We know that paternity leave is good for babies. Fathers who are involved in their baby’s life are more likely to be involved in their life later on. We know that paternity leave is good for mothers. Paid family leave is shown to increase the earnings, retention, and retirement security of workers, especially mothers, who need to take time off. We know that paid leave is good for employers. It can improve employee morale and boost productivity in the workplace.
And now, we now know that there is happy marriage case to be made for paternity leave. Couples that take care of their babies together stay together. When fathers take paternity leave, they have more time to be involved in their baby’s life, and a new study found a direct link between involved fatherhood and long-term relationship stability.
Involved Dads can be 40% less likely to break up with partners
Looking into the relationships of more than 13,000 heterosexual couples, researchers found that the amount of time a father spent with a new baby alone in the father’s first year of parenthood could predict the couple’s relationship stability up to seven years after the birth of a child, regardless of other factors like ethnicity, gender-role attitudes and household income. Dads that were hands-on in the beginning of their child’s life were up to 40% less likely to separate from their partners later on.
Does this mean if you do not get up at night to check on the crying baby your relationship is doomed? Does every diaper change count? Not necessarily. The researchers found that the type of task that a father was involved in did not significantly determine a relationship breakdown, but the solo time a father spent with a child did.
The first years of a baby’s life are a stressful, sleepless time for parents. When both parents are committed to their baby’s childcare, it means that they are united in making sacrifices of personal time together. This shared mission can smooth over couple arguments of who did what when. Shouldering the burden of raising a child alone can create stress and resentment. When fathers spend more alone time with their baby, it frees up time for the mother to focus on herself — her career, her mental health, her personal goals.
“If I have a bit of time out I feel refreshed and happier when I come back,” Helen Norman, one of the authors of the study and a mother herself, said. “It also allows the mother to engage in paid work outside of the home and she can compete on a more equal footing with her partner.”
When fathers spend time taking of their babies without the help of their partner, it shows commitment to their child and to their partner that together, they are going make this wonderful, difficult period of life work out.