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Modern dads: Fathers' rights to take paternity leave

In the past, Texas fathers rarely took time off work after their children were born. When their wife was in labor, they drove her to the hospital, stayed there until she gave birth and immediately went back to the job as if nothing happened. Now, today's new fathers are fighting for their rights to paternity leave - and not just a day or two. They want to be entitled to six or 12 weeks or longer - just like new mothers.

The Family and Medical Leave Act grants unpaid time off - up to 12 weeks - to new mothers and fathers. However, not many families can survive for that long without an income stream. Currently, most men who want to take time off after their baby is born must use accrued vacation time, although some companies are starting to offer some form of paid paternity leave.

Paternity leave benefits an entire family. Men get to spend time with their children in their early years, babies get the benefits of two parents caring for them and women feel more comfortable returning to the workplace after their babies are born.

Men are increasingly concerned with balancing work and family life. Although more and more companies are becoming supportive of fathers' rights, there is still a stigma associated with men taking time off after a child is born. They may face criticism from coworkers and bosses. Some men have filed lawsuits against their employers for offering a lack of paid time off after their children are born. This may be an option if an employer's time-off policy is unfair or unlawful in any way. Father's rights are important to both the father and the child, and should be defended, whether it be in custody battles, visitation rights, or paternity leave.

Source: The Atlantic, "Daddy Track: The Case for Paternity Leave" Liza Mundy, Dec. 22, 2013

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