Notepad on Life

September 12, 2012

Paternity leave – odd as it sounds, gentlemen, you need to grow a pair…

Filed under: Family,Kids — - @ 8:57 am
Pfc. Tierrine Wesley holds his 7-month-old son...

Pfc. Tierrine Wesley holds his 7-month-old son for only the second time following his unit’s welcome home ceremony at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii. Soldiers on deployment when their child is born are allotted up to 10 days of paternity leave that must be used within 60 days of returning home. See more at New Soldier-dads get administrative leave, Army says (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These things tend to fly off your radar when they don’t personally affect you, so forgive me if I’m a little late to the party in discovering only while driving home last night that a man can claim up to 28 weeks off work for paternity leave, on almost full pay.

I nearly crashed the car. Rare are the times that you will find this blog sympathetic to Big Business but next time I hear its spokesmen complaining about over-regulation, I shall no longer be so quick to put it down to rampant self-interest.

Only if this is some over-reaction to the modern commercial tendency for people to be worked like dogs does it begin to have any shred of credibility. Increasingly elastic working hours, Sunday working, Bank Holiday working – there’s a debate to be had there all right but SEVEN MONTHS…?!

I’d wind up in a rut I might never climb out of, were I to have half-a-year off work. Besides, I do think this ‘bonding’ thing is  overstated and somewhat symptomatic of a country gone soft. You’ve got the best part of two decades to interact with the little blighters before they leave home and if you think they’re fascinating now, wait ’til they start talking politics and ambitions with you, bringing stunning young women home or taking you out for a beer.

I went paintballing with my two at the weekend. We laughed together, ran about like mad things together and got shot together, by each other wherever possible. Great as the early days are, I would take that particular fathering experience over a whole week of aimlessly shaking fluffy toys above a cot with a vacuous grin on my face. To behold developing intellect and sharpening wit in your own flesh and blood is humbling and exhilarating in equal measure. Those first six months, in comparison; well, you’re basically a glorified zookeeper.

And all the while, our Armed Forces are out there firing guns for real, implementing the half-baked folly of politicians, while their own kids sweat it out for weeks on end, learning to hate the ring of a telephone. Do you really want to shrivel up in shame next time you find yourself drinking alongside men in uniform or are you comfortable with the idea of being a bit pathetic?

Six weeks. Tops. Come on, guys, man up.

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