MORE dads are being encouraged to take parental leave because it benefits their children and encourages better father-children relationships later in life.
Father of two Dean Severino took six months paternity leave when his daughter Holly, now four, and son Clark, now two, were born.
“I have a great relationship with my children and I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” Mr Severino said.
Data from the MenCare State of the World’s Father report reveals dads who take parental leave are 20 per cent more likely to help with tasks – like getting up and feeding their child in the middle of the night – than those who don’t.
Diversity Council Australia chief Lisa Annese said paid paternity leave was key was to ensuring gender equality in the workplace.
“We are extremely supportive of paid paternity leave,” Ms Annese said.
“We believe it is vital for more men to be taking it to fully engage women in the workplace.”
Ms Annese said paternity leave was beneficial not only to men and their children, but also to women.
She said a greater sharing of roles would allow women the opportunity to step back into the workplace and further their careers.
“It’s a win-win all round. Workplaces need to become more flexible because we work in a different way to other generations,” Ms Annese said.
Women’s Health Centre Grampians chief Darlene Henning-Marshall said the breaking of gender stereotypes was essential to creating workplace equality and removing barriers.
“Improving the way we balance gender roles and redefine what is considered ‘normal’ for men and women is crucial to progressing to a society that values women and men equally. Paid paternity leave is an excellent way of challenging outdated stereotypes around gender and care-giving,” Ms Henning-Marshall said.
Report findings show women still earn 24 per cent less, globally on average, than men.
The report revealed involved fatherhood makes men happier and healthier.
Studies find that fathers who report close connections with their children live longer and are healthier.
Mr Severino said easily accessible paternity leave was needed to give families greater options.
“In our case, my wife was the higher earner … when I took paternity leave they based it off my wife’s income, not mine which meant we lost our main income, which was a big hit,” he said.
He said the process was difficult and non-transparent and potentially off-putting
“There is always talk about there needing to be better maternity leave – I think there needs to be paternity leave, that would give families many more options,” Mr Severino said.
The time Mr Severino has spent with his children has given him an invaluable connection with them, and a greater appreciation of what it takes to be a parent. He said more support groups were needed for fathers, and that may in turn encourage more fathers to stay at home.