From tomorrow, the 1st of September, every employer in Ireland must offer new dads two weeks’ paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child. This is hugely momentous for all families, particularly first time parents in light of the transition from partners to parents. Paternity leave is significant in terms of new parents having time together to support each other and help each other to adjust to their new identity as mother/ father.
The two weeks paid leave can be taken any time within 6 months of the birth or adoption of a child, which is useful as there is usually a huge amount of support available to new mum’s immediately after the birth of a child. This affords the parents the chance to negotiate the new roles and responsibilities involved and help them both adjust and adapt to these. Paternity leave will of course, also help the father build a relationship with the child.
Other supportive factors such as listening and sharing feelings, spending time together and maintaining a sense of humour and fun in the relationship can help dissipate stress, and help parents maintain intimacy and a sense of connection.
Given the recent media attention to fathers and the refusal of access to their children following breakups, etc. it is appropriate timing for the introduction of paternity leave. It’s an encouraging step forward in formally acknowledging the role that fathers play in child-rearing and hopefully families across Ireland will reap the benefits.