The Paternity Leave E-Course
When the day for me to become a father finally arrived, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to take a fairly substantial paternity leave. I could not have understood then, how valuable this time would be. It is something I still reflect back on, because it was the single biggest transition of my life.
Of course, I was somewhat clueless when it came to my newborn daughter. That was to be expected as a first time parent. But the truth is, I was pretty clueless about paternity leave too.
The anxiety around taking leave hit me just before it began. Things I hadn’t worried about before, like negative reactions at the office and long term career impacts, were suddenly standing right in front of me. As I have come to discover in the time since, I am not the only one who struggles with these fears.
I have also discovered that there is a HUGE difference between taking a paternity leave, and taking a successful paternity leave. Candidly, the first time around, I made tons of mistakes. I was distracted by work. I hadn’t prepared correctly. And I couldn’t fight the urge to be productive. Just to name a few of my paternity leave shortcomings. It was an incredible experience, but walking away from that time with my family, I couldn’t help thinking… “Could I have been there more for my wife? Should I have done things differently when leaving the office? Was I really there mentally to fully connect with my daughter?”
Fast forward just two short years, and I was determined not to make the same mistakes twice. When my son was born in June of 2017, I knew that I needed to be more proactive in planning a successful paternity leave. I scoured the Internet for resources for dads and came up with few, if any, containing practical advice on taking paternity leave. At first I was disheartened. But then I came to the realization that if those resources don’t already exist, maybe I should create some.
The Paternity Leave Course is Born
As I set out to create my own online resource guide, I was lucky enough to come across Lori and the tour de force that is Mindful Return. It was a perfect match for me to share what I have uncovered about paternity leave. Lori and I share a common vision that parental leave isn’t just some days set aside from work. It really is about creating the foundation for a new life in your most important role as a parent.
As Lori mentioned, the paternity leave landscape is undergoing dramatic change for the better. Fortunately, there is a burgeoning recognition of the tremendous benefits, which accompany a father’s involvement. There is also a recognition that levels of long-term involvement, many years down the line, are closely linked with what is done in those first few months. The routines and connections established at the beginning are irreplaceable down the road.
The trouble – as I discovered first hand – is that simply changing company policies to allow for paternity leave is really only half the battle. Ultimately, for this profound shift to reach its incredible potential, we need to also help new fathers adapt and grow into their role. This includes providing encouragement and concrete advice, something lacking in many HR departments today. It also means building communities where dads can discuss the “challenging” aspects of transitioning to fatherhood.
The Mindful Return Paternity Leave Course seeks to do just that. With Lori’s course-creation guidance, and my firsthand experience navigating multiple paternity leaves, we have created material to make your paternity leave an optimal experience. We cover everything from logistics and preparation, to conquering anxiety and strengthening relationships. As you return back to work, we even explore how to make your paternity leave work for you. By demonstrating leadership and growing your team, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get credit for your well-planned leave.
If you are considering taking paternity leave, are on leave now, or are even newly back at work, this course has something tremendous to offer you. And as perceptions about the roles of fatherhood continue to evolve, it is up to us dads to really step up to the plate.
How to Get Started
Learn more about the 4-week Mindful Return Paternity Leave course and register for Part I (the first week about planning your leave) here! Any questions? Reach out to Jeremy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lori Mihalich-Levin at email@example.com.