Taking Father Time
Paternity leave issues.
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
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,