Much like the topic of my dating life during a family holiday, no one can seem to stop weighing into the discourse around Pete Buttigieg taking family leave to care for his newborn twins with his husband Chasten.
Fox’s Tucker Carlson and “Fear Factor” host-turned-messiah-to-millennial men Joe Rogan have both recently offered their truly unhelpful thoughts as to whether or not men should get paternity leave in America, the way fathers in dozens of other rich countries do.
“Isn’t that supposed to be for the person who gave birth?” Rogan mused on this show Tuesday, in conversation with his guest, comedian Bridget Phetasy.
In the episode, Rogan declared that the idea that both “parents should get maternity and paternity leave at the same time is a little weird” and that men don’t need to take leave.
Phetasy, pushed back and argued that “it’s not just about the baby— the mom needs support in the aftermath of giving birth. It’s not just to bond with the kid.” She noted that many other countries offer paid leave to both parents, to which Rogan replied, “this is America,” and family leave is “a new concept” here.
“When someone in government, who is a man, who didn’t give birth, and there is two of them, and they both are off work and they get free money or what happens?” said the man who is worth a literal $100 million.
“Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went.”
Let’s have a quick chat, men. Family leave is not entirely about breasts, as much as you would like it to be. And “new concept” here or not, the United States is one of the only developed countries to have no federal paid family or sick leave benefit. It’s literally the only nation that doesn’t have a paid leave plan for new moms.
Take those facts out of the equation, and you have an even simpler argument in favor of paternity leave: Paternity leave improves the relationship a parent has with their child and the relationship the parents have with one another.
A paper written in 2019 showed that “children whose fathers took at least two weeks of paternity leave after they were born reported feeling closer to their fathers than children with fathers who did not take leave,” as per the New York Times. The Times also reported that research on married parents has found that “even relatively short periods of paternity leave caused couples’ divorce risk to drop and to remain significantly lower for as many as six years to come, even as their children reached school age.”
Oh, and another benefit? It helps reduce the gender pay gap “by increasing mothers’ wages in the short term and helping to increase total household financial well-being in the long term,” says one study.
But, yes, as we’ve learned from a devastating pandemic that cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives and countless more their livelihoods, giving away “free money” to parents with newborns is truly the thing that’s going to ruin the United States.
Taking it in stride, Buttigieg has since spoken out to say that while “the negativity was unfortunate,” he’s glad it “helped” prompt a “conversation about parental leave.”