The 6 months which I was able to fully concentrate on my son have positively influenced our relationship to this day
When our son was born in 2015, my wife and I were legally entitled to 12 months of paid parental leave, which we were allowed to split independently. Financially, this meant that the person on parental leave continued to receive about 65% of their previous salary. Financially, we were off the hook and could plan without financial pressure. We divided the leave as follows: the first 4 months my wife took parental leave, while I continued to work. The next 4 months we took simultaneously, and I took the last 4 months. Logistically it was simple; all we had to do was to fill out a few forms and had an appointment at the parental allowance office.
Our friends and colleagues were really supportive and understanding. In our circle of friends, most of the dads actually took advantage of the opportunity and took several months off work and we all looked rather pityingly on the fathers who were denied parental leave despite their legal entitlement. Unfortunately, there are still some cases where the employer puts pressure on employees - mainly men - not to take parental leave But overall, there are a lot of men taking parental leave now in Germany. I checked the latest figures and in 2020 420,000 men took parental leave which means that every fourth parent taking parental leave was a dad.
In retrospect, I believe that these 6 months, during which I was able to fully concentrate on my son, have positively influenced our relationship to this day.
I think it's fantastic that it is natural for my son to rely on two parents in all areas and with all his needs and that he does not worry about gender-specific roles. He doesn't care which of us plays with him, does his homework, picks him up from school, comforts him or puts him to bed. Apart from the fact that it is wonderful for me to get to know my son in all his facets - and not only in the “classically male” ones - it also has some rather practical sides.
Anyone who has experienced the typical everyday life of a family with one or more children knows how difficult it is to coordinate job, family and one's personal needs without one or more of the three falling behind. Since my wife and I are "equal" caregivers in all areas for our son, we can plan much more flexibly, both go to work, and manage to keep these three pillars in reasonable balance. Occasionally, we even have a few hours left over to meet friends without family and reminisce about the "good old days” when we were young.
In my eyes, it is incomprehensible when a society, for whatever reason, denies fathers this opportunity.
Certainly, at first glance there are financial disadvantages for employers, higher costs for the state or other reasons that could be put forward. At second glance, however, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion: families that can adapt flexibly to social reality and do not break down due to constraints; children for whom the father is not just the person who brings the money home, but a real caregiver; since job and family can be combined with halfway reasonable all-day care for both partners, significantly more gainfully employed people who pay into pension and social funds, and the list goes on and on.
I wished all fathers would get the opportunity that I had, because if not, I think, they are missing out on something crucial that is hard to catch up on.
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