Things are changing, but there’s still a long way to go. Restrictive masculine stereotypes and cultural pressures are still holding guys back, which can lead to low uptake in paternity leave. While many men becoming a dad for the first time today are seizing the opportunity to care for their newborn, others aren’t so lucky. But being there for those you care about has a huge impact on a man’s life. That’s why Dove Men+Care is supporting positive changes in paternity leave policies – as part of comprehensive paid family leave policies for all parents and caregivers – and encouraging dads to take the leave that’s offered to them.
The evolution of being a dad
What it means to be a father has changed a lot over the years. A generation or two ago, the majority of fathers were seen as breadwinners, not caregivers: leading the day-to-day care of their children, let alone taking paternity leave, were not seen as masculine traits. Now these male gender roles are changing, and we understand that there are a great many benefits of paternity leave – for the parental bond between dad and baby, and for the whole family, too.
Paul, dad to a 21-month-old son.
“Compared to my fathers’ day, we have a different work environment, with more equality for males and females. It's great to see and be part of this wave of change, and I couldn't promote this way of thinking enough. My dad was – and is – someone I look up to so much. If I can be half the dad he is, I’ll consider that a success”
Andy, father of three.
“I’m very lucky compared to my dad – I have a very flexible working life so I don’t have to worry and if I want to spend time with my kids, I can just take a day or two off”
Johnny, dad of two.
“My dad was away a lot when I was a kid. In his day, paternity leave didn’t exist. My dad got to meet me four months after I was born – he was in the Merchant Navy and away from home when I arrived. Then he went back to work. I guess his sense of humour is something I appreciated and have tried to emulate – he liked to be the silly, fun one (this might have backfired – I now get no respect at all from my 6-year-old, while she jumps to attention for her mum)”
Jason, father of a 5 and 7-year-old.
“I think when my father became a dad it was just starting to be culturally acceptable for a man to take time off”
Carnell, dad of one.
“My father wasn’t around when I was a child, so I make sure I attend as many performances, sporting events, and school meetings as possible. I also offer support with homework, but we always make sure we have at least one day a month for ‘boy-time’, where we chat about work, school, worries and events. It’s really important and has allowed us to share a very special bond”
Benji, dad of one.
“My parents are quite progressive, and because of our family circumstances when I was a child, my dad was able to take a lot of time off with me. From him, I learned that being a father means being a friend, being supportive and making sure your children have lots of experiences to enjoy and shape their lives”