When parental leave gets real

September 3, 2015 by

My husband isn’t technically a millennial, but he’s close. That, and the fact that we’re juggling a new baby and two careers made me especially interested in Claire Cain Miller’s “Millennial Men Aren’t the Dads They Thought They’d Be” in the New York Times a few weeks back.

Miller writes that while millennial men aspire to more egalitarian relationships—more so than any other generation—as they advance in their careers, they adopt more traditional roles.  She attributes the shift to unsupportive workplace policies and a gender divide in the way workers respond to the pressures of employment.

“The research shows that when something has to give in the work-life juggle, men and women respond differently. Women are more likely to use benefits like paid leave or flexible schedules, and in the absence of those policies, they cut back on work. Men work more,” Miller writes.

My husband works for a small architecture firm, and they’ve generously let him cut his hours to accommodate spending Wednesdays with our son. Similar to what many working moms have experienced for decades, he already feels the tug of what a reduced schedule means for his opportunities and perception at work.

According to John Oliver, the US and Papua New Guinea are the only countries that require no paid maternity leave. And while there’s been some good news recently about strengthening of family workplace policies with Microsoft and Netflix expanding parental leave, we obviously have a long way to go. In the meantime, I am grateful to have an almost-millennial partner who’s committed to working through the challenges of balancing family and work, and taking advantage of modern workplace policies that allow him to prioritize parenting.

Maybe by the time my son enters the workforce, we can come up with something more useful to offer parents than a free meal at Hooter’s on Mother’s Day.