June 30, 2016
By Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Father’s Day and the lead-up thereto were mostly positive across the various news media and pop culture. Oh, there were the usual anti-dad outliers, but more and more they’re exactly that – outliers.
The Diane Rehm Show has never been exactly a bastion of pro-father discourse, but shortly before Father’s Day, it featured Josh Levs and three other guests talking mostly about paid family leave from work, and inevitably other topics as well (Diane Rehm Show, 6/15/16). All in all, it was a strong endorsement of fathers playing larger roles in their children’s lives, particularly just after birth.
Levs is the author of the book All In: How Our Work-First Culture Fails Dads, Families, and Businesses–And How We Can Fix It Together. What he most firmly grasps is the core message I’ve been sending for many years – that greater father involvement in children’s lives is good for everyone. It’s a win/win/win/win situation. Greater father involvement means only good things for kids, fathers and mothers. Why mothers? Because relieving them of some of the burden of childcare frees them to do other things with their time, like work more, earn more and save more. If the corporate grind doesn’t appeal to them, they can do other things – write the Great American Novel, meditate, read a book – with the time they aren’t with their kids.
Greater father involvement means fewer problems for kids and fewer social deficits for adults who were brought up by a single parent. So society would have fewer educational problems to deal with, less crime, less drug and alcohol abuse, fewer mental/emotional problems, etc.
And finally, with the reduction in all those problematic behaviors, public treasuries would find relief from the need to address them and their all-too-persistent rise.
The Diane Rehm show focused on parents being able to take time off after a child is born, and Levs made the vital point that those early weeks are hugely important to the bond between parents and kids.
It’s incredible. You know, the more that you get in those earliest days, the more those bonds last. And we also have longitudinal studies that show that when a dad is home at the beginning of a child’s life, it makes a difference throughout that kid’s entire childhood. And it makes a difference in the balance of responsibilities and the extent the dad and the mom feel confident in playing all these different roles that you need to as a parent.
Right. Parents and children need an opportunity to establish those all-important bonds without which parenting is harder and children feel less secure. Of course a few weeks shortly after a child’s birth is far from the end of the story of what kids need in terms of contact with their parents, but the opportunity afforded by parental leave is certainly one part of what’s needed in a dual-earner parenting situation, which most are.
Thanks to Josh Levs for keeping himself in the spotlight and promoting the vital issues of both parents forming bonds with their children.