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Taking Father Time

Paternity leave issues.
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The Paycheck Pop

Possible work discrimination isn't the only issue -- taking three months of unpaid leave is another very real barrier for most dads. Pruett concedes that until paternity leave is paid for, it will remain largely a privilege of the wealthy rather than a viable choice for lower- or middle-class families. "To have 12 weeks of unpaid leave not only drops them into a different tax bracket but also into a different social bracket," he says.

The Clinton administration agrees. In an effort to help working parents afford time off when they have or adopt a child, President Clinton announced on June 10 the publication of a Labor Department regulation that encourages states to provide unemployment benefits to both mothers and fathers taking parental leave.

But until the states support the rule or another solution is found, time off will remain unpaid -- leaving most families deciding to have Mom take the time off while Dad brings home the bacon.

For Alex Garcia, the biggest obstacle is making the most out of the limited time he has to spend with his baby daughter when he comes from work. "The recurring challenges," he says, "are having a particularly hard day at work and wanting to keep up my end of the bargain at home." That said, he gets up to attend to the most pressing matter at hand: a full diaper.

Daniella Brower is a freelance writer based in Berkeley, Calif.

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