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Embracing paternity leave: investing in family time for lasting connections

07 Mar 2024

By Calvin Todd, Group Marketing Lead, Brand and Content 

In mid-November of 2023, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. Bearing witness to our daughter’s birth was single-handedly the most awe-inspiring, special moment of my life. My wife and I went from a two-person family to a family of three overnight, and like most new parents – we left the hospital in unfamiliar territory, unsure of what life had in store for us.

In the whirlwind of today’s fast-paced world, it often feels like I’m navigating through an endless stream of advice as a father. On one side, there’s the chorus of voices singing praises about the importance of taking paternity leave, and at the same time, there’s this lingering narrative that still romanticises the traditional archetype for men, whereby paternity leave is discouraged.

Spoiler alert – I disagree with the latter.

McKinsey & Company’s research reveals that paternity leave benefits the wellbeing of partners, families and fathers. In my own experience, I felt that there’s something incredibly profound about the emotional connections formed during the initial weeks of parenthood. I believe it’s the ability to recognise the temporary nature of that precious time and the special bond it fosters within a family.

But let’s not forget, taking paternity leave means temporarily stepping back from work, and that decision isn’t always straightforward. Law firm EMW found that paternity leave has dropped to a 10-year low, which has had a negative effect on gender equality. The longer you’ve invested in your career, the harder it becomes to hit the pause button, and the more driven you are at building your career, the more paternity leave can be seen as a hinderance. Around three-quarters of men admit there is a stigma attached to paternity leave, with a clear majority agreeing workplace culture needs to change.

However, I’ve come to realise that prioritising my career at the expense of my family isn’t worth it, and neither is compromising my emotional wellbeing. We need to remember that burnout isn’t just a personal struggle; it affects your entire family unit.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that paternity leave enables partners to return to work and increases job satisfaction. Additionally, some studies show a woman’s earnings rise by 6.7% for every month of paternity leave taken by her partner. In light of promoting inclusion, this is why I believe it’s important for progressive parental leave to be discussed. Evidence also shows that such policies can positively influence employee retention and engagement levels.

Looking ahead, I firmly believe that most men would readily embrace paternity leave if they understood its true value. It’s not just about taking a break from work; it’s about investing in personal growth and nurturing stronger connections with your loved ones, ultimately bringing greater compassion, empathy and understanding back to the workplace. For me, it’s about being seen as a support structure for my wife, and solidifying the “we’re in this together” ethos. Yes, this includes the nappy changes at 1am (in the heart of winter).

In my own journey advocating for paternity leave, my biggest discovery is directly linked to what benefits my family the most. Sharing the responsibilities of caregiving isn’t solely about household chores or nappy changes; it’s a declaration of where my true priorities lie. And when my IQ aligns with my EQ, it fosters deeper trust and respect within my professional relationships.

Here’s to continually pushing the dial for a cultural shift that champions and celebrates paternity leave. After all, families thrive when both partners are fully engaged and supported in their parenting journey.

Working with IQ-EQ has been seamless – you and your team understand our business, advise us appropriately, and handle your side of our collective partnership so that we can focus on making good investment decisions. Evan Gibson SVP, Merchants Capital

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