Dads: Would you want 13 months off to care for your kids?

So Dads,  let’s pretend your company says you can 13 months of paternity leave (2 months paid) without penalizing you at promotion time, would you take it?

Many of the Dads in Sweden are. In fact 85 percent of fathers take paternity leave with some interesting affects. Not only have the women come to expect the help at home, the women’s pay checks have increased at work. (One study found women’s pay increase 7 percent for each month of work their husband took leave.)

From The New York Times:

“In this land of Viking lore, men are at the heart of the gender-equality debate. The ponytailed center-right finance minister calls himself a feminist, ads for cleaning products rarely feature women as homemakers, and preschools vet books for gender stereotypes in animal characters. For nearly four decades, governments of all political hues have legislated to give women equal rights at work — and men equal rights at home.”

“Swedish mothers still take more time off with children — almost four times as much. And some who thought they wanted their men to help raise baby now find themselves coveting more time at home.”

“But laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.”

“Companies have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and not to penalize fathers at promotion time. Women’s paychecks are benefiting and the shift in fathers’ roles is perceived as playing a part in lower divorce rates and increasing joint custody of children.”

The story is much, much longer but I found these main two concepts very interesting:

  1. Splitting the child rearing responsibilities completely – not have a lead parent and a helper.
  2. The idea that a woman’s pay could be higher if she could work more and not be home with the kids even for a few months.

Things I’m not clear on:

  1. What kind of job – not employer – would allow someone to take 13 months off and then pop back on after the leave?
  2. Also what happens to the mom’s job after the Dad’s leave is up? She keeps working I guess and the child goes to daycare but they just were able to have more time at home with the Dad’s leave?

So what to you think: Dad would you want to stay home for 13 months? Would you still feel macho if you did? Could someone fill in for you while you were gone and then let you come back?

Moms, if you could go back to work if Dad could be home would you? What do you make of the pay increasing 7 percent for each month of leave?

31 comments Add your comment

Michelle

June 11th, 2010
10:28 am

If my husband could be a stay at home dad, he would! (He has said so) I really like the idea of the parents getting a better opportunity at “splitting” the child rearing. You don’t see that too much here in the US (at least I have not).

I cannot believe that the women would get 7% increase PER month? Am I understanding that correctly? Does that amount stay effective after the dad goes back to work?! That would be great!

Becky

June 11th, 2010
10:35 am

My husband is self employed, so it wouldn’t be a big deal for him to be off..He actually has had our two for the last month during the day already..He’s great with them..They have been to the beach 2-3 times, they help him wash his car, they ride the bikes..A couple of weeks ago, they rode on the Silver Comet trail for a total of 36 miles..

So, no I don’t think he would feel less macho..Of course, I’m of the mind set that no one can make you feel less of anything if you don’t let them..Would I go back to work right after having a baby, if I had the option of staying home? No, not even for more money..I just think that if a woman has a chance to stay at home with her child, she should..I know that there are a lot of women that can’t and some that don’t want to and thats fine..

Working mom stay at home dae

June 11th, 2010
10:37 am

We have been reversed family for years and take constant criticism, I work and my husband stays home but if he had a job before the kids and would pay him to stay home then its ok?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 11th, 2010
10:40 am

Working mom — I’m so impressed that you can do it salary wise — I’ve never earned anything close to what Michael has earned and now that I’ve been home for 9 years the gap is even greater. I have no chance to catch up.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 11th, 2010
10:51 am

I don’t believe the 7% per month raise either, compounded that would mean that a woman would be making double what she started at the end of the paternity leave.

I think the critical part of this is the amount of paid leave that is granted. I would take the time off, but I don’t really see how I’d live a year without income.

On a personal side, I don’t think it’s my employer’s responsibility to pay me to take paternity leave, or for me to not be present for over a year and be given the same consideration during raise and promotion time as the man or woman who was there while I watched over the kid. kind of feels like a free lunch and that I’m taking away from someone more deserving who did the work for my employer while i was gone.

Working mom stay at home dad

June 11th, 2010
10:59 am

Thank you…I don’t make a killing but it works for us. He keeps our 3 boys in line. I love summer vacation, I have been coming home with no cleaning to do or yard work they have it all done! They don’t sass him when he says to do it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 11th, 2010
11:01 am

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 11th, 2010
11:01 am

@TWG “I’ve never earned anything close to what Michael has earned and now that I’ve been home for 9 years the gap is even greater. I have no chance to catch up.”

Choices…..Michael was at the office working and missed out on special time with his newborns that you got. He has no chance to catch up or get back that time. I mean, that’s the reason you made your choice, right, to not miss that time.

You can’t ride both sides of the fence. You guys chose for Michael to be in the workforce and you to not be. It’s not intellectually honest to start the process by saying “I’m willingly foregoing my professional progress for the sake of my children”, and then turn around and imply in any manner an unfairness about how the professional world and those who stayed in it moved on in promotions and salaries without you.

motherjanegoose

June 11th, 2010
11:10 am

Greetings from Montana…my 50th state!

My husband was home with our then 0-2 year old during the day and worked nights.I taught half day Kinder. He was great with him and did a super job…from 7:30-1:00. He typically does not do a lot of house work: laundry, cooking “meals” ( not a bowl of mac and cheese or a frozen pizza) , grocery shopping, cleaning etc. I have mentioned this before. This would most likely be left for me, when I got home. That would have been to much for me to handle, working all day outside, working at home and with an infant.

Being with our son did not affect his “machosim” ( sp?) They had a wonderful bond~

If I could take the 7% NOW ( not when I was 27 and then had my son or 32 and then had my daughter) we could perhaps do this. We have always lived on 2 incomes, even when mine was quite small. We would have starved on what I made in the early 90’s.

TechMom

June 11th, 2010
11:33 am

Other things to note in the article:

“Parents may use their 390 days of paid leave however they want up to the child’s eighth birthday — monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly — a schedule that leaves particularly small, private employers scrambling to adapt.”
We spent 2 weeks in Sweden last summer and I guess this explains why most women ‘get a year off’ as we were told… the other added reason most women take a full year the first year- daycares in Sweden don’t start until babies are a year old. So realistically only 1 of parents can go back to work, otherwise you have to find an in-home sitter/nanny.

“Taxes account for 47 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 27 percent in the United States and 40 percent in the European Union overall. The public sector, famous for family-friendly perks, employs one in three workers, including half of all working women.”
Do we want to pay about 20% higher in taxes? I will say the people of Sweden are pretty content for the most part even considering the higher taxes. Culturally I wouldn’t want to live there… then again, if I was expecting a baby, I might change my tune since my employer only guarantees what FMLA requires.

HB

June 11th, 2010
11:51 am

I think the 7% increase per month in FUTURE earnings (may mean 10-20 years out) makes sense, but you have to look at how it breaks down. The fathers are not taking 13 months off. 13 months of parental leave is granted to families, at least two of which are currently reserved by law for dads (11-2 mom/dad split), but families can choose a more balanced or dad-heavy split if they wish.

So the study results would mean on average, the wives of dads who take 4 months of the 13 alotted eventually make 14% more than families where dads only took the two months. That could be a direct result of moms going back to work sooner or it could be a reflection of attitudes and practices of families that choose to split leave that way. Dads who stay home longer may be in families where duties are more evenly split between parents and equal consideration is given to both their careers before and after the leave period. For example, in those families even after leave ends, mom may not be expected to pass up opportunities/projects that could require longer worker hours for a while, may not be expected to stay home from work more often with a sick child than dad would, etc.

JATL

June 11th, 2010
12:20 pm

@Working Mom -I can’t believe people give you flack because you work and your husband stays at home! Hello, people, it’s 2010! You’re certainly not alone. My youngest boy’s playgroup has several stay at home dads and moms who bring home the bacon, and I know a number of other households who do this. Keep up the good work!

I would love it if everyone had more leave with a new baby -moms and dads!

Valstake

June 11th, 2010
12:48 pm

And those never married, or childless, male or female, end up having to pick up the slack because so many moms & dads are out of the workforce. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably good, social policy, but as a childless widow, it would annoy me greatly that I’d probably have to work harder, longer, to make up for less “bodies” in the office (or wherever.)

SuwaneeMommy

June 11th, 2010
12:58 pm

This idea would not fly in the US. We are far too focused on business and producing to take off more than a week at a time for vacation (many of us). I know my husband took off two weeks when our baby was born and even then, he was checking in with work and taking care of business. Plus, with so many people out of work for parental leave, I can’t imagine how much production would slow and how much our economy would suffer. Our current system isn’t perfectly ideal, but we have choices. And as a mom, now, I’m acutely aware of what my family demands of me, both because I don’t want to be seen as a slacker for having to take time off of work for my child’s illness, but because I don’t want my childless or not married co-workers to resent me because I do have a child.

Becky

June 11th, 2010
12:58 pm

@Working Mom..Ditto what JATL said..I can’t imagine why it really matters which one in the family works as long as it suits your family..As MJG (I think) posted, my sister and her husband worked different hours for years, so that their kids weren’t ever in daycare..He was a teacher, so his hrs. were pretty typical, she only worked on weekends and very few nights..So, I wouldn’t worry about what others had to say..

catlady

June 11th, 2010
1:23 pm

unfortunately my son in law has had 25 months with my granddaughter, as he has been unemployed (except for working for the census,which was projected to last 2 months and was done in 4 weeks).

TechMom

June 11th, 2010
2:56 pm

@catlady, I hope you mean it’s unfortunate that your son-in-law has been out of a job and not because he’s spent the past 25 months being the primary caregiver for his own daughter.

Denise

June 11th, 2010
3:33 pm

@catlady, that is real! We are talking about working men in this forum because of the article but you really brought another dynamic…men who are blessed with the time but would give anything to have 13 months of WORK. Thinking of it in that way, it seems almost a shame that anyone can be out for 13 months and be able to step back in to their jobs, bumping whoever it was that covered them in the mean time. I didn’t read the article so I don’t know if that is the policy/trend there but it could happen I suppose. I think, here, that you are guaranteed A job when you get back, per FMLA, but not YOUR job. If that is the case, how is the person integrated into an environment that got used to them not being there, where they are used to someone else performing a particular function? Do they hire outside people under contracts just until the regular employee comes back? I don’t know.

waterbug24

June 11th, 2010
7:24 pm

@catlady, Congrats! My sister and I hit our 50th state in 2008! Already started tracking my sons states!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

Active Duty Mom

June 12th, 2010
6:35 am

TechMom, Valstake, and catlady you hit the nail right on the head. Everything has a cost, whether it is time, money, etc., not to mention the current unemployment rate in this country. Many people who have jobs are trying to hold onto them and some employers are having issues with maternity leave, much less paternity leave. It would be nice if these articles that compare the services that are available to Europeans and not Americans would also mention how much the Europeans pay in taxes, otherwise it is comparing apples to oranges. How about more discussions on how to economize in these tough financial times right now, especially if you are a one-parent family? How about some discussions on how to navigate the job search as a parent if you have been laid off for some time? Food for thought.

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

June 12th, 2010
9:53 am

@Tiger: The point is that there are some societies that don’t require that stupid choice between future earnings and present nurturing. In the USA, yes. Women who take care of their kids (and probably, to a much lesser degree, men who do the same) will never be able to hop back in at a comparable level. But why does it have to be that way? It doesn’t.

See, this is why looking at other cultures is so beneficial. We get accustomed to things here–even injustices–and shrug, saying “That’s just the way things are.” It seems natural.

But it *isn’t* natural. It’s constructed, meaning we *created* this society and we can *change* it. There is nothing inherent in the universe that says that people having children must trade away their work futures. That’s just the way WE have set it up HERE. And it would be better if we would set it up differently.

The funny thing to me is that we say we have more choices. It looks to me like we have some no-win choices, sure (career OR family OR have both with crazy stress), but the Swedes have more freedom.

So yes, it would cost more in taxes. Whoop de frickin’ do–pay more taxes to have more freedom and fewer no-win choices? Deal. See, money is NOT the arbiter of freedom. Freedom is. We have bought into this myth that says freedom is only when I get to keep my money… and that’s why we aren’t the happiest nation on earth, we don’t have the best health care outcomes or the highest life expectancy… wealth is not everything–which we claim to know but refuse to practice.

Kat

June 12th, 2010
11:23 am

A former London-based co-worker of mine gets 9 months of paid maternity leave, but they certainly feel it elsewhere!

Beck

June 13th, 2010
1:16 am

Preach it! – Not Going to Use My Usual Name!

G.R.I.T.S.

June 13th, 2010
7:07 am

i agree with not going to use my usual name.,…(just wondering why the usual name wasnt used) you said it very well….i cant imagine americans being ok with such a great amount of taxation….i dated (years ago) a man from sweden and i learned then how much more swedes are taxed…and how many more expectations they have of their government. he became ill with a devastating disease whenhe got older and ended up being taken back to sweden for medical care that he couldnt recieve here because of limits on his insruance, back in sweden he received the very best of care until his death. thats a death thing and away from this topic of birth lol….but…i also cant imagine any job being help for that long and would like to read about how the companies cope with this. i can see a company having to give you a job back…but paying for it and raises too while you are gone? how do they do that? iand i cant see for instance someone in my position at work being gone for a year and stepping back into my same job…unless there happened to be an opening…someone is going to have to do that job while im out…whats gonna happen to them when i come back?

Matt

June 13th, 2010
7:13 am

Sure I would want it if I knew 100% that the job would be there when I got back. However, the Swedish concept is so foreign to me I can’t imagine it. I was lucky to get one week off when my children were born and that is with two different companies. If I had taken any more time, they would have cleared out my office and found a replacement-that I am sure of.

Producer

June 13th, 2010
8:35 am

Hey Dads, pass out cigars and get back to work! Don’t make your workplace carry you for a year after your two months of paid paternity leave runs out!! Isn’t this progressive attitude thoughtful!? Sheesh!

Judy

June 13th, 2010
8:59 am

My husband works for a great company and received 7 weeks of paternity leave at 100% pay. We live in Atlanta. He stayed home alone with our infant son for 6 weeks (10 weeks old to 16 weeks old). It was a wonderful experience for them both. We feel so fortunate he was able to spend such quality time with his son.

However, it was interesting watching how he was received at work. Many women take long maternity leaves at his company that last 6 to 9 months. Never are they asked to do any work at home, never are they called by a coworker to help out on an account, never are they asked to sit in on a conference call with a customer during week 4 of their leave. All of this happened to my husband and I guess we should see it as a good sign that they missed him in the office! He certainly did not receive the same treatment the new moms do and the childless coworkers seemed to think he was on some sort of vacation eating bon bons all day. Taking care of an infant is a consuming task and luckily his coworkers with children made this clear to the others.

We look at the experience as a positive one and one we were lucky to experience. I wish more American companies would work this benefit into their job packages. It certainly helps retain workers (which saves money). My husband knows he’s not going anywhere until we have our 2nd kid and can use the paternity leave again!!

great blog, Thanks for posting

Judy

observer

June 13th, 2010
9:04 am

Life is a series of choices. You choose where and how much you want to work, with whom you will raise a family, and how and who will raise your children. How do you jump back into a position at work and move up after taking 13 mos off? Are there not other co-workers seeking promotions, who are looking to move up and see your absence as opportunity? I know that when I announced that I was pregnant and leaving, there was a lot of jockeying going on in the forefront and in the background.

rdh

June 13th, 2010
10:00 am

Last year, I was laid off for 9 months . Our baby was only 3 months old at the time, and my wife was in nursing school full time. Thus, the majority of child care fell on me.

It was really difficult, though. My wife was breastfeeding at the time, and our baby would not take a bottle. So while I took care of her for 8 or 10 hours a day, she would not much and was generally miserable. I think that if she had taken a bottle (my wife pumped), it would have been a much better experience for both of us. Some things a Dad cannot do for a newborn!

The outcome of all of this was that my third child (daughter) is a lot closer to me now than my other two children (now 16 and 18) were. She wants me to feed her, read to her, put her to bed.. and it has been that way for the last year. She trusts me and wants me the way most babies want their mothers.

All in all, I wouldn’t want to take 13 months off, but I can see the advantages of Dad getting in there a lot more, which he can’t do if he works 50 hours a week.

Shaye Breed

June 13th, 2010
10:04 am

My husband and a good male friend of mine are Swedish. It works well by all accounts I’ve heard/read, and the government has been really pushing lately to get more men to take advantage of the leave–which is totalled between the 2 parents–to make it more equal. Kids should have 2 parents, not a mom and a sperm donor who comes to visit sometimes. :P I think it’s a wonderful idea, but I can’t see US companies, most of whom who only grudgingly give women 6 weeks maternity leaveff, warming to it, until some attitudes change a bit more. I think it would be beneficial to society as a whole in the long run.
And yes, Swedes pay more in taxes, but once you add in the cost of health insurance and all those other things that are “included” for them, the tax burden is not so different. Essentially, there are fewer rich Swedes, but there are a hell of a lot fewer really poor Swedes. Their education, standard of living, etc. are in many opinions better than here. As with anything, there are pros & cons–the US has some things better, and Sweden has some.