With gifts and cards and maybe a dinner out, millions of Americans are honoring their dads today, realizing that tomorrow many dads will head out the door and back to another busy work week that allows for precious little family time. No wonder a growing number of new dads are embracing the opportunity to briefly enjoy an alternate lifestyle where daddy's home. Lee Cowan reports our Cover Story:
Scott Brodrick may be the best one-handed sandwich maker around. That bundle in his other hand is the family's newly-adopted son, Shea.
When they brought him home last month, Scott decided to do something that most fathers in this country simple can't do: He's staying home from work for six weeks so he can soak up plenty of father-son moments.
"He won't remember these times, but I certainly will," said Scott. "And yeah, it's been great bonding time for us."
His company, PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, has a policy toward new fathers that is generous, to say the least. That month-and-a-half Scott's getting? It's all paid.
Cowan asked, "What do other dads tell you when you tell them how much time you got?"
"Jaws hit the floor," said Scott. "It's an unbelievable policy, and really rare for the father to be able to take six weeks off."
According to the United Nations, 71 countries offer paid leave for new fathers, but the U.S. isn't one of them. The U.S. also lags behind in paid leave for mothers. In fact, we're one of only TWO countries in the world that doesn't offer it. (The other is Papua New Guinea.)
There have been some changes on the issue. In 1993, President Clinton signed into the law the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. It grants up to 12 weeks of leave, but that's unpaid, and it's only offered to full-time workers at firms with 50 or more employees. They also have to work more than 1,200 hours in a 12-month period.
That leaves an estimated 40 percent of workers out of luck.
Mark Winiarski, who works as a teacher in Connecticut for special needs kids, just had his second daughter, Hannah, last month. Although he was eligible to take leave under the FMLA, 12 weeks without a paycheck, he says, just wasn't realistic.
"Legally I could have, but financially there's no way we could have done that," he told Cowan. "There's no way."
Instead, Mark had to stitch together his paternity leave. "It's really comes down to vacation time for me because that's my only option," said Mark.
He's taking all his paid vacation and sick days combined. That will give him at least a few weeks at home with Hannah and his wife, Sarah.
He did the same thing when their first daughter, Grace, was born, and he says it was worth every second.
"She sees me and she drops what she's doing and she runs over and says, 'Daddy!' and gives me a huge hug, and there's absolutely nothing that can take away that feeling. It's just really special."
There is growing evidence to suggest that fathers who do take time off after their child's birth are more likely to be involved with the care of their kids over the long term.