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Bringing up baby: Maternity and Paternity Leave

It’s really crap that men aren’t allowed to take time off to be with their newborn kids.

Yes, they aren’t the ones who carried them for 9 months inside, gave birth to them or are able to feed them for the first little while, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair.

I think it would be great to give men the choice if they wanted. No stigma attached, only encouragement.

It would take the burden off women having to sacrifice their careers, just because they’re biologically able to reproduce.

Something like the first 6 months for the mom, and another 6 months for the dad sounds fair to me.

(In an ideal world, which also assumes you have money saved or a wonderful government and company who supports such things.)


In Sweden, home of where one of my favourite authors lived (Stieg Larsson), not to mention being one of the most memorable cities in the world to visit, men take paternity leave.

From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave.

Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues.

As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.

Can you believe it? Those who DON’T take paternity leave, are asked why.

Then you read this:

…laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.

Not only do women get 13-months of paid parental leave, men are entitled to 2 months of it, possibly 4 months by now.



It was so much easier in the past. Women who worked in the fields, would strap that baby on their back or to their front, and go on with their day.

It was definitely not easy having to tote around a squealing, fragile, bundle of joy, but in terms of being able to work and have children, it was better.

Today, women would get weird looks if they brought their newborn babies into work… or would they?

Check out these pictures: Licia Ronzulli with her daughter at work.

She started when the baby Vittoria was just 6 weeks old!!

“The working mum took advantage of relatively relaxed rules allowing women to take their babies to work by cradling Victoria in a sling during the debate.

But while Mrs Ronzulli juggled being a mum and an MEP with ease, baby Victoria was clearly worn out by the lengthy discussions, sleeping throughout the experience.

Since then, the 37-year-old, who is a member of the environment, health and food safety commission, has brought her child with her to many voting sessions.” Via

This is a more a recent picture taken of Licia and Vittoria. Don’t they look adorable!?

I am down for this!

The only thing is that her job is probably more silent than mine would be.

I talk and work a lot with other people in meetings when I work, whereas hers seems to involve headphones and silence, and that would not bode well for babies, I think.

What do you think?

If you live in a country other than the U.S. or Canada, how does parental leave work there?


  • RR

    Fathers can absolutely take leave here in Canada. It’s called Parental leave. The way EI works in Canada, the first 15 weeks are maternity leave…only mom can take those. There are also 35 additional weeks that can be taken as Parental leave…meaning either parent can use those. They can all be taken by mom, in which case mom gets EI payments for 50 weeks, or dad can take some, and mom the rest. The parents can take them one after the other or at the same time, but no more than 35 parental weeks total. So if they split it and take them at the same time, mom is going back to work much earlier. I think you skipped your research on is subject, because we actually have very generous leave for parents here, and dads are entitled to it as well, it’s just that moms usually end up taking all the parental leave because that’s how most families seem to prefer it.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Encouraged to take it? I think not.

      I had friends who went on mat leave and the fathers were told informally their careers would be at stake if they took more than a week off, plus the 3 weeks of used vacation.
      It is even worse in the States for their “careers” in addition to not wanting to hire women who MAY have kids and will go on a 3-month short term “disability leave”.
      All well and good on PAPER but not really encouraged in practice.

      • RR

        I didn’t say that all jobs encouraged it, only that they have just as much right as women to take it. I have taken leave for 2 kids so I know how it works here, and I’ve seen many men take a portion of the parental leave, including my own husband. Honestly most men (not saying all) do not want to be home with a baby for 6 months…or even 1. So they take a few weeks because that’s what they feel comfortable with. And most prefer the wife to be home as long as she can so baby does not go to child care too early. So it’s not often that you see it being taken simultaneously although it can happen. And trust me, it’s just as begrudged when women take mat leave as when men do. No one likes losing a worker for the better part of a year. It’s hard on any company. We have it far better than many countries in terms of mat leave, Sweden just happens to be probably the best, but we are right up there. It’s time to stop complaining about great benefits we do have. Men are entitled to it, and if they are desperate to take it they can suck up the dirty looks at work, cause we women get them too. The benefits are there, and of course no one is happy to lose a worker for several months to a year.

  • MelD

    Switzerland is not a welfare state as many others in Europe, so we do not have quite such generous leave as e.g. Germany, which is desperate to get its birthrate up and not doing too well despite the perks on offer (including up to 3 years mixed/paternity leave). However, where there are allowances for parents they are valid for both fathers and mothers equally. Only recently have many young mothers begun to continue to work after having children, simply because there was no financial pressure to do so and mothers enjoy bringing up their children in a society that still expects a mother is unlikely to work more than 60% because it is hard to run a home and family in addition, even if dads help… Naturally there have always been possibilities for part-time work or working from home etc. for women who wanted or needed to work. I also know many families where the fathers work reduced hours to take on some of the childcare, working 80% (4 days = 32/36 hrs instead of 40/45 hrs, the norm here), so that the mother can keep her oar in her field. Here, it is not automatic to go “back to work” when kids start school at 6 because they have irregular school hours and are home for lunch, so parents get very creative about working hours. There are few outside childcare options and often relatives help out (or dads!).
    E.g. my daughter works one full day, one half day and a weekend day; my son-in-law (100%) is usually home to pick the kids up from KG or nursery because work starts early and we grandparents (self-employed/semi-retired) take over the one lunch hour that is unnaccounted for…

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I think part-time or just above part-time for both parents is a nice idea. Or at least flexible hours because you have to pick your kid up..
      Here the hours are very rigid but don’t match up with parents’ hours unless they can stagger them to accommodate their kids.

  • Sense

    I just looked this up not too long ago, to compare to the US’s policies. NZ moms get 14 weeks of paid leave, fathers get up to 2 weeks leave, although it sounds like they can transfer the leave to one another. Both partners can share up to 1 year of total leave (the remainder unpaid)–just means you can’t lose your job during that unpaid leave.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      But are fathers encouraged to take time off?

      I had the distinct feeling that with men’s careers they’re discouraged from doing so, to avoid losing time and cachet.

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