It takes a village to raise a child and the role of a father in a child’s life cannot be overstated. The initial days after childbirth are equally important for a father and his child as they are for the mother-child.
While paternity leaves help a new father bond with his child and strengthen family relationships, only central government employees in India are entitled to 15 days of paternity leave, while most private sector employees are not covered by any formal policies.
This Father’s Day, we spoke to three new fathers about the impact paternity leaves had on their lives and their families’.
For Roshan Jose, a market research professional based in Thane, availing his company’s paternity leave helped create a bond with his daughter and prioritise his family. With the first few days meaning sleepless nights as the baby needs constant attention, he says, “I spent most of my paternity leave helping attend to my little girl so that my wife could get some break and time to recover from the delivery process. Additionally, you tend to create a special bond with the kid and it helps create a positive impact on the entire family.”
An often overlooked part of the post-pregnancy journey is postpartum depression. With paternity leaves, the new mothers get a much-needed break and assistance. Agreeing to this is 32-year-old Ronson Dcosta, who says, “Paternity leave helped me see the struggles of postpartum a new mother goes through. I spent the initial days helping my wife and managing the household chores. Also, I was happy to spend the morning with my baby.”
Believing it is not only a mother’s “job” to look after a newborn kid, Prince Agarwal, a banking consultant who welcomed his son in December 2020, says, “As soon as me and my wife knew we were pregnant, I planned to apply for the paternity leave. I took it for six weeks, so right from the delivery to changing diapers, showering the baby and making the baby sleep, I made sure I was there. It helped me to pamper my wife and develop a healthy bond with the baby, not to mention that it is not only a mother’s “job”.”
Does paternity leave help close the gender gap that exists between men and women? Agarwal states, “Not really, that is a completely different battle. Hopefully, it begins with recognising that women are not on ‘leave’ when they are on maternity break.” On the other hand, Jose mentions, “While paternity leave does help close the gender equality gap to some extent, the duration of paternity leave is way too short to create a meaningful impact.”
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