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Paternity Leave Grows More Popular

June 13, 2014, 10:05 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Paternity Leave Grows More Popular

For many moms, taking time off after a baby is born or adopted is pretty standard. But what about dads?

A number of countries not only require paid maternity leave, they also mandate paid paternity leave. The United States is not one of them. In fact, it's the only industrialized nation that doesn't even mandate paid maternity leave.

A new study out this week reports that even though about 90-percent of U.S. dads think paternity leave is important, it's not encouraged by most companies.

Rob and Laura Brown keep busy with their four kids.

"Four is just four. We go all the time. We never slow down," Laura said. 

Even though their youngest is now two, they still remember the days of late nights and frequent diaper changes.

"We were both scared. She was scared. So just having someone there, and sometimes just having someone there when you need to just walk away," Rob said. 

"It was different because I remember just like having it three, and then when Wright came, it was kinda different," daughter Mollie Brown said. 

Oldest daughter Mollie was still young when her little brother was born, but she remembers her parents working together to keep the house going.

"They would, like when we needed dinner to be made or help setting the table, then they would help us. And they helped my little sisters pour their milk," Mollie said. 

"I wasn't able to do most everything that I wanted to do, which was difficult for me. But he was there to help me do that. He made sure that life kept going," Laura said. 

Rob was lucky enough to get 40 hours of paid paternity from his employer, Avera McKennan. But few new dads get that perk.

According to the Families and Work Institute, only 14 percent of U.S. employers offer paid paternity leave. Those who don't get it are expected to use vacation time or just go back to work.

"I feel bad for them. They're really missing out on something that you're never going to get back. That first week of your child's life, when they come in and they're in the house. It doesn't matter if it's your first child or the tenth child. Every child is different," Rob said. 

"I couldn't imagine, you know, coming home from the hospital and him having to go to work the next day. And having to get up and do everything all on my own while he's at work. Having that time, him with the kids, having that special time too is important," Laura said. 

Laura says the bond and teamwork built in those first few days has carried on throughout their kids' lives.  And the kids definitely seem to notice.

"I like how they work together as a team, and how they love us," Mollie said.

Rob says the best advice he can give new dads is to give mom a break as much as possible.

The Family and Medical Leave Act does require employers to give up to 12 weeks of paternity and maternity leave.  But it doesn't have to be paid.

While only 14 percent of businesses offer dads paid paternity leave, 58 percent have paid maternity leave for moms.

Even though almost 90 percent of dads surveyed said they think paternity leave is important, they weren't willing to lose money for it.

87 percent said they would not take the leave unless they were paid at least 70 percent of their salary; 45-percent required full pay.

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