The benefits of paternity leave
Even in places where paid parental leave is available, paternity leave can still feel like a relatively new idea. But there are endless benefits to taking paternity leave for the whole family – from supporting your child’s development to gaining confidence in your parenting. We looked at the research and spoke to dads about their experiences to lay out some of the benefits of paid parental leave.
Improved confidence in caring
A report (PDF) (4,507 KB) called The New Dad: Take Your Leave, found that father-and-baby bonding during paternity leave actually improves a dad’s ability to care for children in the long term, and means he’s a more engaged and involved parent. As the report puts it, being a dad who’s around in those early stages gives lasting confidence in his caregiving – and establishes him as an equal partner in parenting. Evidence also suggests this extra bonding time can lead to a stronger father-child relationship later down the road.
Benefits of paternity leave are long-lasting
It doesn’t just give you the opportunity to bond with your baby – a number of studies have shown that paternity leave has positive effects on a child later in life, too. The University of Oslo found kids whose fathers took time off showed an improved performance at school, and an OECD report has shown that kids have both improved cognitive scores and mental health outcomes as they grow older.
Parental leave benefits the parents' relationship
A newborn baby is a challenge – but when both parents share the responsibility, their partnership becomes even stronger. Paul gave a great piece of dad advice. “Now I appreciate what goes into being a parent,” he said. “It’s about helping and supporting each other.”
Paternity leave benefits the new mom
Research shows that when caring for their baby, more support from the father can increase the mother’s well-being – plus they’re less likely to experience depression after the birth. “The most important thing I learned during my paternity leave was to give the mother time to rest, sleep and be herself for periods of time,” teacher Carnell told us. Many of the fathers in The New Dad: Take Your Leave report agreed, believing that taking paternity leave is the best way to support your partner during their emotional and physical recovery.
The paternal bond makes you happier
The MenCare State of the World’s Fathers report shows that men are generally happier and experience fewer health problems (both mental and physical) when caring for young children. Gareth told us the impact becoming a dad had on his well-being. “Since the birth of my son, my mental health has improved,” he said. “He has totally changed my perspective on life.”
An incredible life experience
Becoming a father is a life-shift like no other. From the challenges to the heart-warming moments – like seeing that first smile on your child’s face – being a new dad is like nothing else. As Johnny, journalist and father of two, says, “It’s the most maddening, but ultimately rewarding, thing you’ll ever do.”