What you need to know about paternity leave

Three guys share their secrets to successful parental leaves.

Do men mother?
This story was originally titled "Plan Your Paternity Leave" in the June 2011 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Aaron Del Rizzo is used to people taking notice when he enters a room. Six-foot-five and solidly built with a shaved head and goatee, the Toronto Crown attorney jokes that he's often mistaken for the defendant when he steps into the courtroom. Just imagine, then, the reaction he got at the Rainbow Songs program with his seven-month-old son, Marcus.

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"I'm walking around in a circle, singing silly children's songs and thinking my buddies would laugh at me," Del Rizzo says with a smile. "But at the same time, I'm thinking this is the greatest thing in the world, to be with my son who's obviously having a good time."

Do men mother?
Del Rizzo, who stayed home with Marcus for four months in the summer of 2009, is one of a growing number of men taking paid parental leave. As a previous study has shown, more than 33 per cent of eligible Canadian fathers took a paid leave, says Andrea Doucet, a sociology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and author of Do Men Mother? (University of Toronto Press, 2006). "Women's lives are utterly transformed when they have children; men who take some parental leave get to share in some of this transformation," she says.

Canada's paid parental leave benefits average about 35 weeks, allowing more room for Dad to take a leave without cutting in on Mom's time at home, says Doucet. And with studies showing that women earn more than their husbands in more than 40 per cent of households, it often makes financial sense for Dad to be at home.

"Gender roles are switching at work, with women taking on traditional male responsibilities such as primary breadwinning. Men are also increasingly taking on traditional female responsibilities, such as caregiving and domestic work," says Doucet. She explains that by having more hands-on involvement, dads will be more emotionally and practically invested in their children's care.

Page 1 of 5 – Discover what it's like to be a stay-at-home dad on page 2.

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