Paternity Leave: More than a policy

Imagine this: a father pushing his child in a stroller, fulfilling his duties as a father, seen as attractive and potentially “the new kind of manly.”  Author Katrin Bennhold describes this new definition of masculinity in her article, “In Sweden, Men Can Have It All,” as a “most striking example of social engineering.”  Ms. Bennhold chronicles the country’s progressive policies that currently provide men with up to two months paternity leave, roughly 15% of the time allotted for women.  Currently, the elections in September could possibly grant more time off for fathers.

The current policy as well as the support to increase paternity leave is a bold and innovative concept.  Providing paternity leave to fathers not only assists mothers in child-rearing, but it also reinforces the role that fathers play in raising a child.  Moreover, women have received larger incomes and reduced divorce rates as a result.  A study that examines this public policy’s effect on children, specifically graduation rates and juvenile delinquency has the potential to influence policymakers.

I strongly believe that policies like the aforementioned could create a huge impact in any society.  The task at hand, however, is daunting.  A policy can only go so far.  The individuals, in this case the fathers, themselves have to understand that it is hard work to care for a child.  They also have to be willing to put in the work.

I would like to wish all of the fathers out there a very happy and safe Father’s Day.  And please, take an active role in your child’s life.

Any thoughts as to whether a policy to establish paternity leave could pass in the US?  Please, if you have any questions or comments, email me at

Ramon P. Llamas, MPH, CHES

View posts by Ramon P. Llamas, MPH, CHES
Ramon holds a Masters in Public Health degree with an emphasis on health promotion and health education from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and a BS in biological sciences and biomedical engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He is a member of the Men's Health Caucus of the American Public Health Association. His background includes health promotion at the US DHHS in Washington, DC and Director of Programs for Men's Health Network.


  1. JonathanJune 25, 2010

    In a lot of cases men are becoming the primary caregiver of the family aside from their financial contributions. You see more men taking their kids with them to run errands and handle duties traditionally considered a females obligation. When a newborn arrive men have to change their daily routine with the mother to ensure things run smoothly in the house. This is a time in which both mother and father should participate in the newborn experience. If this means both mother and father having maternity leave then so be it. This could improve the connection between mother and father as well as the child.

  2. JennyJune 25, 2010

    I believe a paternity leave policy would have a great impact on the US. Not only would this allow father’s more time to bond with his child early in their life, it would also allow working mothers an easier transition to motherhood. More importantly, a paternity leave policy would deter much of the discrimination in the workplace against women who want to become mothers in the future.

  3. Guys are okayJuly 13, 2010

    Family leave policies in the USA apply equally to both mothers and fathers. Getting employers and fellow employees (men and women) to accept family leave for men is another matter. You can read more at:

  4. Ahsan SayedJuly 14, 2010

    Although this in of itself is quite fascinating, its especially interesting to note that the increase of paternity leave has had a positive affect on divorce rates. Our country suffers from such high divorce rates that most first time marriages are not expected to last. Perhaps this can be another step we can take to save our families.

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