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What happens when men get paternity leave (and actually take it)? In America, most fathers take less than two weeks off after the birth of a child so there's not enough information to draw any data, but in Spain when fathers got parental leave they started wanting fewer children.

As first reported by Quartz, most dads in Spain have been getting two weeks of parental leave since 2007, and the amount was doubled to four weeks in 2017. In 2018, the dads got another extra week and more increases are expected. It makes sense that the program will be expanded because it's been super successful: Dads who take parental leave still go back to work, but are more engaged with their children, and the moms are more likely to get back to work because they have an engaged partner to help carry the load.

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That's what researchers found when they looked back on the data, but that also found something surprising: After taking parental leave, the dads in Spain now want fewer kids.

In a study published in the Journal of Public Economics researchers suggest the reason Spanish dads might want fewer kids now is because they're more aware of how hard it is to bring up kids. At the same time, mothers started showing an interest in having slightly more children, suggesting that when the workload is more evenly shared, motherhood is more enjoyable.

There are a number of factors at play here, and it's really impossible to say if the paternity leave policies are the only reason why Spanish moms and dads are rethinking the right number of children for their families, but we know this: Right now a lot of dads want to be doing more childcare, but feel like they can't. At the same time, fathers are happier than mothers because when they do spend time with their kids, it's more often on fun things.

A recent study out of the University of California Riverside found that dads are more likely to be playing with the kids while moms are more likely to be doing the "work" of raising kids. But as the Spanish data suggests, when dads are able to take the time to do some of the day-to-day stuff, both parents benefit.

It follows that parental leave for dads is good for fathers and mothers and babies. Dads don't go back to work so early that they feel like they're not really a parent, moms have support and a partner who truly understands the demands of parenting, and babies are healthier. We also know that when dads take leave they feel more engaged in fatherhood and infant mortality rates go down.

Other countries can't copy and paste Spain's paternity leave policy, but we can certainly learn from it when making our own.

[This post was originally published May 16, 2019.]

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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