Parental Leave Is Not Just for Moms


We hear almost constantly in this country about how terrible our parental leave is. That is mostly because it is. There is no guarantee for any time paid and a measly three months unpaid guaranteed through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These are not good numbers.

But if you think this is just a women's issue, think again. Maternity leave is bad enough, but the options for fathers? Are pretty much abysmal. Finally -- thank God! -- someone is fighting back. Ariel Ayanna, an attorney in Boston, says he was fired soon after he dared to do the unthinkable as a young associate in a law firm -- use the FMLA to help his mentally ill wife after giving birth to the family's second child.

He claims he was harassed for doing women's work and that other associates at his firm bragged about how little time they spent with their own families.

Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and co-founder of the Project on Attorney Retention, told the American Bar Association Journal that she wasn't surprised:

I've been waiting for this case for five years -- [it was] clearly coming. If you talk to young people in law firms, they don't take parental leave, it's not done .... [Often] men are sent ... very clear unspoken messages that they are not to do this.

Sick. Truly, truly sick. My own husband took two weeks, the full "paternity leave" offered by his company, and when I tell people this, they often look shocked, revealing that their own husbands took one or two days, but had to use vacation time.

How are we ever supposed to change anybody's mind about fathers' roles when we can't even get any workplace to understand that home/work balance isn't a "woman's issue" alone? For all of us women who want our husbands to be equal partners and who want a life that includes both parents, not just one parent who works crazy hours to support the other one, then we should also care about this case.

It takes two people to make a baby, and in an ideal world, both people would raise that child together, equally. We women are not automatically better parents just because we have breasts. The notion that we are isn't helpful to anyone, least of all our children.

We owe it to them to do better. I hope this case opens some doors.

Did your husband take leave?


maternity leave


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

toria... toriandgrace

My hubby gets 10 days baby leave, but he'll be deployed, so we'll take it when he gets home. Honestly, I don't see why men need to get paid leave for more than a week or so. Mom needs to be at home to recoup from the birth and nurse the baby. It's nice to have a little help from dad, but he doesn't exactly need a long recovery time and someone needs to be bringing in money to support the family and pay the bills. Just my personal opinion.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Hubby took 5 days with 1st, 2 weeks with 2nd (had a c/s and started school), 2 weeks with 3rd so we could move to our new house. I lived having him there, someone there to see how baby is acting, that I don't sit around watching soaps, putting my feet up, getting my hair done...whatever some people think. My hubbys time was paid. I loved having him home, we kept the kids home during the first week with the 2nd & 3rd. The first week is the hardest, I feel.

vmoni... vmonica17

In the military soldiers get 10 days parental leave, this was a gift from president Bush, he signed that Bill before he left office!!!! 

mamaj... mamajen82

My husband got 10 days paid leave after our daughter was born. Since he is military his assigned place of duty was home with me and the baby. I appreciated the help around the house, but I don't think we needed more than 10 days. It was the perfect amount of adjustment time.

nonmember avatar Kaitlyn

My husband took 10 days also, but he is 100% commission so if you dont work you dont get paid. It was very nice having him home and he loved having the time off to be able to spend time with his new baby. I had a c section so I needed his help too.

Amyin... AmyinMotown

With my first, my husband had just taken a new job so he couldn't take a ton of time off....I think we wangled a week, for which I will be forever grateful (C-section). With our second, he was at a different job that offers crazy amounts of vacation time and had been there for awhile, so he was home for two weeks after the baby was born and then worked two days, then three days, for the next two weeks.


Law associates are notorious for working ridicuous hours as a point of pride. One dad blogger I really like talked about making the swicth to stay at home dad after being at work on a weekend and seeing a colleague come in. They chit chatted and it turned out the guy had just left the hospital where his wife had given birth to his first child a few HOURS previous. Think you have to accept very tradtional gender roles (think Betty Draper) and not want this: "a life that includes both parents, not just one parent who works crazy hours to support the other one" to be married to someone like that. I'll take my underpaid, equal partner social worker, thanks.

Embla Thorsdottir

My husband took 12 months paternity leave (paid) with our first born (He was eligible for all of the leave as I had not been working prior to giving birth) with our second he took 6 months (split between the two of us).

All things considered I LOVE living in Europe!

radic... radicalhw

This man is what a feminist looks like!  Good for him!

Rachel Wellhausen

I think any father who is wanting to take the paid paternity leave should have the option. Some families flow better with dad only being there a few days me on the other hand I love having my husband home. I'm thankful that most of the places he's worked for has atleast 2weeks paid paternity leave it's great. He's now working in a law firm as their network engineer and they also give the paid leave which will be great since our 3rd is due in July and it will be a c-section. With my 2nd child I had a c-section and because I didn't take it easy I ended up getting really sick so having him be able to be around is a blessing. Not everyone has close families where mom, aunt, and other members stop by to lend a hand so him being here is best for us.

No_Di... No_Difference

With my first my hubby didn't simply because we weren't married yet and he couldn't afford to take off work BUT he had her during the day and I had her at night. With my second, he was now in the army BUT he was reclassing and wasn't able to miss any days of classes.  He did however take off a few weeks after we moved shortly there after which helped not only with the baby but with moving too.

1-10 of 53 comments 12345 Last