Monday, August 30, 2010

In which I (kind of) disagree with Nick on Paternity Leave

Most babies are cute, but they actually don't come much cuter than Florence Cameron, the Prime Minister's new baby daughter, as the first photos of her showed. I don't often link to the Fail, but there are rare occasions, when they print pictures of beautiful babies, that it's appropriate. She clearly has her daddy wrapped round her little finger, which is exactly how it should be. He looks completely  knackered with great big bags under his eyes. He clearly hasn't had much in the way of sleep but he's utterly besotted! Very touching.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg  is now standing in for David Cameron for a further period as the Prime Minister takes paternity leave.  He told a Q and A meeting in Croydon the other day of the Government's plans to reform parental leave so that it becomes more flexible and interchangeable. This I fully support as it treats families like grown ups and lets them make the decision that is right for their family. He went on to say that being forced to take paternity leave when the baby was just born wasn't fair. Again I agree.

However I will take a bit of issue with this comment:
 "You take two weeks off at the beginning, bluntly, when the baby is barely aware of your existence and you're of least help."
This view has been echoed by Dazmando on Bracknell Blog who said:

I also think it would be better if paternity could be taken at a later date if required, say in 6 months time when it may be more practical to help out as a father (I'm not going to be very good at breast feeding). 

People must have the choice to decide for themselves, but I don't want any dad or impending dad to think he's of no help in the first couple of weeks. I don't know how I would have survived without Bob who was at home with me for 3 weeks when Anna was born.  I will spare you the gory details, but the path to blissful breastfeeding was quite a traumatic one. At one point, he was sterilising various equipment for me every 2 hours so we could get milk into her. He did the washing, the shopping, the cooking and fully supported me as I recovered from giving birth. He was utterly magnificent, I have to say. He was worked pretty much round the clock and we didn't even have any other kids. 

I just felt it was important to emphasise how much dads help in these first few weeks - clearly a lot more than they think.

Having said all of that, I like the way that this new Government is giving people choice in this, rather than the Labour way of "this is how it's going to be, take it or leave it". 

1 comment:

dazmando said...

I guess for me I'm lucky enough to have my mum come over and help when im lucky enough to have my first son. I Think that being flexible is better. And I will be off work myself in the first week and working at home for a while afterwards.

Think is a more flexible paternity leave would really help, esp with bonding. I could be wrong of course I will be a first time father. And I bow to your greater knowledge and experiance.


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