A lifelong bond is created in everyday moments

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 6.11.2017 10.22
Column

Early childhood is full of new things, of joy, confusion, fatigue, and love. Family leaves are fathers’ right. They offer an opportunity to fathers to share everyday life with their children. It is important to use this opportunity as a man grows into fatherhood in interaction with his child.

Everyone benefits from contributing to the care of a child: the father, the parents’ relationship, and not the least the child who is entitled to the parent. The purpose of ‘It’s Daddy Time’ campaign launched today is to increase the take up of family leaves by fathers.  Next year we will have the 40th anniversary of the paternity leave in Finland. It is quite surprising that almost a fifth of the fathers still do not take any family leave.

Fatherhood should be more strongly present in our society. At work men are often not seen as parents with worries and going through the busiest time of their lives. This means that the hopes of these fathers to share responsibility for their child’s care often go unnoticed. It is a question of culture and attitudes, also shown by the fact that many of the people who contact the Ombudsman for Equality are men who have been on family leaves.

Parents and employers do not always fully recognise that the six-month parental leave can also be used by fathers. Yet, every employer has the obligation to promote equality persistently and systematically. Equality planning provides one good tool for this. It is important to build farther-friendly culture and practices at workplaces. That fatherhood is seen and heard.

Support and encouragement by the superior is very important. There are always ways to rearrange the work duties. In the end the family leaves are only a brief moment in a work career that often is decades long. A father-friendly culture pays itself back: both the employer and employee benefit if the father can focus and perform well at work. This will be the case when reconciling work and family does not cause conflicts or friction.

The European Commission is also advocating the participating fatherhood, and is co-financing the national campaign that will be heard on several radio channels in the coming weeks. ‘It’s Daddy Time’ campaign takes place at a time when the renewal of family leaves is again topical in Finland. The latest reform gave the opportunity to the family leaves for separated fathers as well.

It is time to show the future generations that daddies do take care of their children and are willing and able to do this. A quote from a father and an expert by experience who participated in the campaign: I encourage fathers to bond with their loved ones.

Annika Saarikko
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services