All Woman

Free up the family time!

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

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IMD: Making a difference for men and boys
IT was in 1999 that International Men's Day (IMD) was officially launched in Trinidad and Tobago, and it's now celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide. This year's IMD is being celebrated under the theme 'Making a difference for men and boys', with a challenge for men to lead by example, as a way to create a society in which all individuals will flourish.
Over the next several pages All Woman celebrates IMD 2019 though a series of articles celebrating men as partners, parents, friends and role models, highlighting those who lead by example, as well as ways for other men to use the opportunity to make practical improvements to their lives, and that of others.

A proposal for national paternity leave is fresh on the table, and Government has been facilitating discussions with groups which have been advocating for the development of policies that will potentially lead to institutional arrangements to accommodate this leave by way of a Paternity Leave Act.

Those against have cited the proclivity of Jamaican men to not only sire multiple children with different women, which would make their total leave entitlement difficult to calculate, but that they're also generally not involved with child-rearing. Those in favour have listed the plethora of benefits to the young child and mother of having a father bond with his baby in the critical first months after birth.

But while the debate rages on, there are men who are currently in the thick of child-rearing who will tell you just how much even the discussions mean to them.

Calvin, 43, soldier and married father of three:

My wife gave birth to our third child recently. Truth be told, I was worried about her because when she had the second child it was a lot of pressure. A toddler is very demanding and at the time we couldn't afford help. With two older children and me working it was hard on her. This time around I had to pay someone to stay with her. It was an emotional time and she would have preferred if it was me or at least someone close to us, but none of those two things could happen. I wouldn't expect the same three-month period as women get, as I know a lot of small businesses can't pay for that, but if it is even four weeks I am sure many families would be grateful. I know people will try to abuse the system, so I would recommend using acknowledgment of paternity type paperwork if the couple isn't married. Also, the child's mother would need to confirm that the man is supportive and that he is actively involved with her recovery and in bonding with the child.

Anthony, 29, teacher and father of one, in a committed relationship:

I fully support the proposal for paternity leave. I recently became a father and this would really be helpful for families like mine because babies take a lot of work — I didn't realise just how much until I was in the position. A second parent around would be really helpful. Some situations can make the whole birthing and recovery process so much more difficult, for example, where the mother gets a C-section. She won't be able to do much, and what if she doesn't have any family member close by and cannot afford to pay somebody to help her out? The father, given paternity leave, could help his lady around the house and ensure that both she and the baby are okay. He would be able to take charge of other things she would otherwise have to stress about like the laundry, preparation of meals and so on, while she gets to rest. After my babymother's surgery and I realised the struggle of post-partum pain both physically and emotionally, I had to take some days off to assist her and our baby. So trust me when I say paid leave would definitely be a big help.

Mark, 38, entrepreneur and married father of two:

I think that fathers should be granted paternity leave because women, as strong as they are, need as much help as they can get after giving birth. I understand why the Government would be hesitant — people will try to abuse it — but I am sure something can be worked out, because for too long women have had to do it alone. The first four or so weeks were the toughest, and it really got to my wife emotionally. Listen, post-partum depression is real and it's a big war women have to fight, but it would be easier if they had the support from their partners. But many times with work and the traffic a man is useless by the time he gets home.

Mason, 38, physiotherapist and father of two, in a committed relationship:

I believe that more men are becoming family-oriented. A period that is especially sacred and would, I believe, allow for better bonding as a family, is that period right after birth. I don't just want to be there for my partner who is likely to not be strong enough to handle the demands that come with parenting a newborn alone, but I also want to be there for my child. I want to show the child love, to be a real-life security blanket, to speak positive words to him, and to nurture him. I am not married, but I am part of a common-law union and I hope that provisions will be made for us men to be there for our families when our little ones are brought into the world. As far as how much time we will get — I am willing to take anything at this point, I just know that this is long overdue. Free up the family time!

Shawn, 35, teacher and married father of two:

I agree with real fathers getting paternity leave; however, there should be some conditions. Some men will definitely help while others will just want it to skylark. Some men think because we say women are natural nurturers they shouldn't get involved in the early aspects of child-rearing, but the good can't suffer for the bad. Mothers are extra tired after giving birth so they need all the help they can get. There are men who want to be there to support their partners and to bond with their kids and they should get the chance to do this.


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