All Woman

Paternity leave promotes positive fatherhood

Monday, November 18, 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.

FATHERHOOD can be a very rewarding experience, and a role that many dads would never trade for the world. As a family-oriented company that places emphasis on parental involvement, the JMMB Group provides paternity leave for all male team members, giving them to opportunity to share in the first weeks of their children's lives. It is apt that as we celebrate International Men's Day this year, that the spotlight is shone on some of these fathers, who have led by example by playing an active role in their children's lives and being a part of their special moments.

Here, JMMB dads share their stories on the importance of taking paternity leave and the impact it had on their family life.

 

Milestone moment

Andre Reid, senior trader at JMMB, still recalls the early days following the birth of his now five-year-old son Liam.

“I was grateful for the time off because it was important for me to be there for my newborn son,” he said, admitting that the close knit forged in those days has remained unbreakable.

Reid credits his strong paternal instinct to the example set by his own father, who has played an integral role in his life.

Colleague dad Greig Lindo, assistant general manager, trading and treasury, echoes similar sentiments.

“As a result of being on paternity leave I got the chance to be there for the birth of my daughter Arielle, now 19-months-old. That was such a good experience — a milestone in my life — and it meant so much to me to have the time off without worrying about work duties,” said Lindo.

 

Forging a strong father- child bond

In addition to being present for the milestone moment of the birth of his child, JMMB Group information systems risk security compliance manager Orin Malcolm outlined that during his paternity leave he was able to forge a stronger bond with his children — now six-year-old Leah and eight-month-old Liam, getting to know and understand their little nuances, especially in the case of his firstborn.

“I was able to differentiate when she was tired or hungry or just needed attention,” he said. “The bonding time for me (while on paternity leave) was the most valuable aspect, as I saw how my babies seemingly responded to me in little ways — whether it was my voice or scent.”

Ryan Chung, senior capital markets analyst and father of now eight-month-old Max, said proudly, “It was fulfilling to have had the opportunity to spend undivided time (during paternity leave) with my son. In so doing it helped me to better understand his communication signals and to better cater to his needs. Additionally, it also allowed my wife to get some rest and recuperate (post C-section surgery).”

 

Supporting spouse

Although the dads benefitted from the opportunity to bond and participate in many firsts with their children, their spouses were equally grateful for their presence.

Reid, in dispelling the myth that paternity leave is akin to vacation, said, “By being at home with my wife Tracy I have a great appreciation of what she went through and how demanding a newborn is. I was happy to support with daily household chores and tended to the baby — feeding and changing — while Tracy slept.”

Lindo shared a similar experience, noting that at the time of the birth of his daughter Arielle, his wife had limited extended family support and so she was grateful that he could be on hand to do the heavy lifting to also facilitate her recovery.

Lindo also supplemented his paternity leave with vacation leave so that he could provide ongoing support to his wife in addition to attending doctors' visits.

Jhearnell Lawrence, Malcolm's fiancée, in attesting to the value of paternity leave, said that in addition to the physical support, it was heartening to also have her partner for emotional balance.

“The constant going (with a newborn) can be quite draining, but with him being there I did not experience some of the stresses that other (new moms) faced.

“It was good to just have someone there, to take turns so you can rest, and just knowing you are going through the same experience together.”

Barrington Rose, counter-party risk analyst and father of eight-month-old Sarah, sings praises to JMMB Group for the inclusive approach to family life and promoting work-life balance. He admits that even as early as during his wife's pregnancy, other fathers in his department shared pointers on fatherhood. Additionally his team was also accommodating of the process, allowing him the time to attend doctors' visits with wife Peta-Gaye.

For Rose, the bonding process with his daughter continues months later, as he is able to periodically visit her during his lunch time at JMMB's nursery facility (for the children of JMMB employees) at the company's head office in New Kingston.

Malcolm also commended the company for having an organisational culture that has its team members' best interest at heart, and for seeking to live true to its vision of love by providing benefits like paternity leave, the nursery facility, and flexi-time work hours in a bid to promote positive family life.

“We recognise that although this is not a legal obligation at this time, as a company we saw it fit, long ago, to implement paternity leave so that both parents can be part of their child's life from the onset. As such, we provide leave from work to facilitate fathers within the first few months of the birth of their child, or welcoming a new child in their home through adoption,” said Orleen Batson, JMMB human resources officer.

“We seek to facilitate the bonding process not just for the mothers, but for the fathers too. We are aware that this is a critical period in which both the mother and child will need hands-on support,” Batson said.


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