When You Want To Be A Man And Take Care Of Your Kids — But You Can’t
Ryan: I took the 12 weeks of leave assured by the government — that’s unpaid. I was lucky in part because I had accrued a couple weeks of paid time off at work at the time she was born, so I took about five weeks total — a good portion of that was unpaid. I basically took as long as I could before I had to go back and start paying the bills. I didn’t want to go back to work — I wanted to spend as much time with my new baby as possible.
We needed to put her in daycare early — she was only two or three months old. The problem is, when you’re that young, you take home everything that comes into the daycare. I don’t think I’d gotten sick in the last few years — but now I’ve gotten everything under the sun this year. And then I was short on leave, so I get sick and I’m forced to decide: Do I stay home or try to make the money we need? If something were to happen to a family member, I’d be out in the dark.
"You have to be a man and take care
of your children, help them grow and
further your fathering skills by learning
I’m one of the more fortunate cases. It’s a story of what if’s: What if right after my child was born, someone in my family became ill — what would I have done then?
I wish I had more time altogether. I honestly think both parents should be home as much as possible in the first months. Not only is your child learning and developing critical things, but you’re learning parenting skills as well. The stigma out there is probably that the mother is the one that has to be home, but the father has to do more than provide. You have to be a man and take care of your children, help them grow and further your fathering skills by learning first-hand.
Twelve weeks guaranteed, and separate from any sick time — that would be a life changer.
Ryan’s former workplace, the Hartford, has since updated its policy from zero paid leave for fathers to two weeks paid leave for all parents, as of January 1, 2016. For birth mothers, this is in addition to any short-term disability leave.