When dads take paternity leave, the whole family benefits. Researchers know this and so do a growing number of families. Unfortunately, cultural norms often prevent fathers from taking time to be with their newborn babies. Companies don't always offer paid parental leave to men, and even when they do, some men don't feel they can justify taking it. But if we want fathers to be equal parents, they need an equal opportunity to parent in those early weeks and months.
That's why we love to see high-profile fathers talking about paternity leave. By showing the world that they're playing this important role in raising their children, they can change attitudes everywhere.
From tech founders to athletes to musicians, these fathers understand the value of paternity leave:
1. Daniel Murphy
Murphy was an infielder for the New York Mets in 2014 when his wife gave birth to their son Noah by C-section just before the first game of the season. He flew to Florida to be with his family, and was actually criticized by some for missing two games.
"My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day— that being Wednesday—due to the fact that she can't travel for two weeks," Murphy told WFAN at the time. "I can only speak from my experience—a father seeing his wife—she was completely finished. I mean, she was done. She had surgery and she was wiped. Having me there helped a lot, and vice versa, to take some of the load off. ... It felt, for us, like the right decision to make."
2. Alexis Ohanian
Before his daughter Olympia was born, the Reddit co-founder announced his plan to take six weeks off to care for her. But when wife Serena Williams suffered life-threatening complications during childbirth, Ohanian changed his plans and took 16 weeks off—the full amount allowed at Reddit.
Two years later, he wrote about how important that time off was for him and his family in an essay for the New York Times.
"Spending a big chunk of time with Olympia when she was a newborn gave me confidence that I could figure this whole parenting thing out," he wrote. "Taking leave also set me off on the right foot for sharing parental responsibilities. Two years later, there is no stigma in our house about me changing diapers, feeding Olympia, doing her hair or anything else I might need to do in a pinch. They're all just dad things (not 'babysitter' things—I hate it when people refer to dads spending time with their kids as babysitting)."
3. Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook offers four months of paternity leave to employees, and its founder wasn't about to skip out on the opportunity (though he didn't take all four months). He took two months off when daughter Max was born in 2015. In 2017, when wife Priscilla gave birth to their second daughter August, Zuckerberg split his leave, taking one month off when she was born and another a few months later.
"At Facebook, we offer four months of maternity and paternity leave because studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, it's good for the entire family," he wrote on Facebook at the time. "And I'm pretty sure the office will still be standing when I get back."
4. Prince Harry
In the U.K., the standard paternity leave is two weeks, which is what Prince William took with his first two children, George and Charlotte. (Poor Louis got the third-child treatment when his dad went back to work two days after he was born.)When Meghan Markle gave birth to baby Archie in May, Harry was widely expected to take time off as well. Much to everyone's surprise, he appeared at an official engagement just three days later. It turns out the Duke of Sussex decided to have a partial leave, appearing at just one event a week for the first month of his son's life.
5. Chance The Rapper
After the birth of his second daughter, Marli, in September, Chance the Rapper took to Instagram to announce that he had decided to postpone his tour to stay home with his wife and daughters.
"When Kensli was born, I went on tour 2 weeks later and missed some of the most important milestones in her life, but more importantly I was absent when her mother needed me the most," he wrote of his first daughter. "At this point as a husband and father of two I realize that I can't make that mistake again. I need to be as helpful and available as possible to my wife in these early months of raising Kensli and Marli."
6. Jalen Ramsey
When the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback took paternity leave in September for the birth of his daughter in Nashville, things were complicated, to say the least. Ramsey had already requested to be traded to another team, so many saw paternity leave as some kind of excuse not to play.
"Months ago in the offseason, Jalen notified me that he was expecting the birth of his second child in late September," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone announced. "We spoke about this recently and again today after practice and decided it was best for Jalen to fly to Nashville tonight after meetings to be with his family during the birth of their daughter. He will return to the team when he's ready, and we will provide an update at that time."
Critics and commenters made this about everything but the baby, but it when dads take paternity leave it's not because they want to upset their bosses. It's because they want to bond with their babies. Can't Ramsey's decision to take paternity leave just be respected as that?