It’s clear: ALL parents deserve time to care for their children and families. This year, we’re celebrating Father’s Day by highlighting the voices and stories of dads around Connecticut who need paid family and medical leave.

We asked dads: why do YOU support paid family and medical leave? Here are your stories…

“The minute my children were born, there was an immediate bond with both. That bond needs to be made as strong as possible, and to a newborn child the only way to strengthen it is by spending time together. Having to go back to work immediately, based on monetary necessity, can rip apart new families. It takes a good deal of time to adjust to a newborn and learn how this small miracle now fits into your life (and vice-versa). Fathers need to be there not only for their child, but for new mothers post-birth as well. A new mother needs to focus on one thing – making sure that beautiful baby is nourished and well fed via breast milk. It is the duty of the father to ensure that mom and baby are taken care of during this very critical stage. As part of the working class in America, we typically give up 65% of our waking hours to focus on producing for our employer. The thank you for all of that labor mixing should go beyond a weekly paycheck. There is a human element that has been lost along the way. We are all in this together.” – Christopher, North Haven 

“My daughter was born 2 months early while we were in NH for the weekend. I used up all my vacation while she was in the NICU in Manchester before she was big enough to take an expensive ambulance ride back to CT. Fortunately my wife had paid leave and could stay with her. I had to go back to work which was very hard.” – Merrill, New Britain

“My wife and I welcomed our first child, a daughter, in December 2017. As my wife had a long labor and a c-section, she was unable to lift our daughter for the first 6 weeks. During those critical first few months of bonding and caretaking, I was the primary caretaker for both my wife and new daughter. My wife and I are blessed, lucky and privileged to have been able to access a combination of paid and unpaid leave to cover our expenses during that time. I can’t imagine trying to do this as a single parent, when making minimum wage or without either spouse having access to paid leave. In our society where two incomes are often needed to make ends meet, it is critical for fathers and mothers to have access to paid leave. The economic and social life of our state relies heavily on our ability to attract and retain young adults and families so this is an incredibly important investment in making CT a great place to live.” – Scott, North Haven

“To bond with your newborn child and/or enable me to focus on providing care for a sick relative without worrying how I will pay the bills. My first child spent 10 days in the ICU at birth. I was lucky enough to be eligible for FMLA and enough paid vacation time to cover that scary period and then some. No one should worry about financial matters while going through such a difficult time.” – Edward, Wolcott

“It is important to take time to bond with the new child and provide support to the other parent.” – Anonymous, Wallingford 

“Supporting my wife’s career is important to me. While she may the one who has to take time off to give birth, recover, and care the most for a newborn, I see it as my responsibility to take my leave to care for the child later, allowing her to get back to work sooner.” – Anonymous, New Haven

“In 1997 my daughter was born nearly four months premature, after my wife had been on total bedrest in the hospital for three months. Justine was in the neonatal intensive care unit for four months before coming home. My employer at the time didn’t have a formal paid leave policy, but they treated me as they did: I was able to take a full month off, paid, with no concern about whether my job would be there when I returned.

In addition to the intensive care our baby needed when she came home, being able to enjoy those first weeks together was so important. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to decide between that and keeping a job (which was essential for my employer-provided healthcare insurance benefits).

Many years later, still with the same employer, I took a four month paid medical leave, made possible by the short-term disability benefit the company offered. Without that I would have had to quit my job, the stress of which would have made my recovery much more difficult.

While practically it may make more sense for mothers rather than fathers to be home with a newborn, there is immense value for fathers being present and involved during the first few weeks of their children’s lives. Paid family leave makes that possible.” – Jonathan, Cos Cob

“As a father It was important to me to be available to bond with and care for my daughters as well as provide support and assistance to my wife as we transitioned to parenthood. We were more fortunate than most. I was allowed to take all of my vacation and we were able to save enough to cover most of my wife’s unpaid leave. The downside to this is that our children were both born in late spring, and that meant we had no time left for sick days after returning to work. I think the time spent together as a family allows parents to adjust to the changes in life together. I think paid leave is critical for fathers because it allows us to be active and involved rather than placing all expectations of child rearing on women. It also allows us to bond with children during the most critical developmental time in our children’s lives.” – Michael, South Windsor

“Paid family and medical leave is important for me because it demonstrates a value placed on family involvement and obligations. It also takes away unnecessary stress caused by work during otherwise stressful times. I firmly believe that family should always come before anything else and so it is important to have policies in place at work that help ensure this is possible.

In a two income household, it is just as important for the father to have access to leave as the mother does. Gone are the days of a single income household, financed solely by the male income. Having a gender based bias at this point in time seems antiquated and discriminatory. We seem to live in a culture that is quick to assign blame to fathers, particularly concerning the lack of presence in their children’s lives. Yet society in general does not seem to address the inequality in policies allowing for both parents to care for and spend time with their children; an inequality based simply on gender.” –Anonymous, Chester

“Paid leave is a family friendly policy that recognizes that there are times when we need to take care of a family member or self. Paid leave relieves pressure that one has to choose between taking care of a family member (or self) or continuing to work knowing you need to be elsewhere. As a dad I want to know that if one of my children needs care that I can afford to be there. Care giving is not just a women’s responsibility! As for me I needed 2.5 months off for bilateral knee replacement when I was in my mid-fifties. Fortunately, I had accrued a goodly amount of sick time and vacation time, otherwise I do not know how the family would have managed financially, other than depleting part of savings.” – Steve, Cromwell

“Paid leave is critical to fathers in order to attend to personal and familial needs.” – Michael, Waterford