Should dads really take paternity leave?

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has missed the first three games of the baseball season to be with his wife who went into labor with their son Monday.

According to Major League Baseball, players are given three days of paternity leave to spend with their wife and newborn, and Murphy took them. No big deal right?

Well, yesterday, former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason shared his thoughts on Murphy’s decision:

“Quite frankly I would’ve said ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day. This is what makes our money, this is how we’re going to live our life, this is going to give our child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”

Set aside for the moment Esiason’s apparent extreme controlling macho-ism whereby you can dictate exactly what your wife needs to do because you make the money, and look at what Esiason is suggesting–an, at this point, unnecessary surgery that carries with it complication risks and longer recovery times so that a player could be at Opening Day.

His co-host, Craig Carton, weighed in similarly:

“To me, and this is just my sensibility, assuming the birth went well, assuming your wife is fine, assuming the baby is fine — 24 hours, you stay there, baby is good, you have a good support system for the mom and the baby, you get your ass back to your team and you play baseball.”

I’ve blogged recently about Family and Medical Leave and the importance of a work-life balance. But even more so, as a father, Esiason and Carton’s comments are insulting. It’s part of a broader issue with parental leave, in that we’re often legally (or, in some cases, procedurally) entitled to it, but that using it isn’t responsible if your job is calling, but honestly, that would take too much time to explain.

The ultimate issue is why shouldn’t a father use the time to be there with his child in their first few days? It’s shoving off neonatal care solely on the mother, and that the father either doesn’t or shouldn’t play in a role in it–especially if they have a job. A man has a job, and it’s not to care for children, so think Esiason and Carton. Is this really how we want to treat dads who make a personal decision to take THREE DAYS off of work to help care and bond with their children? That being a real man-dad is about telling your wife to get a C-Section so you don’t have to worry about taking parental leave?

Daniel Murphy should be praised for his decision to take a few days to be there for his family, not taking heat for it.

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One response to “Should dads really take paternity leave?

  1. I’m taking 8 weeks. Couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. On their deathbed who wishes they worked more?

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