The new dad of two is sending an important message to policy-makers with his own actions.
He may run the world’s biggest social media network, but family still comes first for Mark Zuckerberg: The new father-of-two announced last weekend that he’s taking the rest of December off for some paternity leave bonding time with his daughters, which is still less than the 17 paid weeks of paternity leave Facebook offers employees.
“I'm going on parental leave for December to be with August and Max, so you'll hear from me a little less,” the 33-year-old Facebook CEO shared on Saturday as the caption of a sweet picture of him walking with 2-year-old Max. “We have a couple more Facebook and philanthropy announcements this year and then I'll see you all in 2018!”
Zuckerberg’s actions speak volumes about the importance that should be placed on family bonding time after a new baby joins the fold. Not only are there precious snuggles to be had, but parental leave has also been shown to lessen the rates of postpartum depression, boost employee morale and even promote the baby’s brain development.
It’s a win-win scenario. And, yet, we aren’t all Mark Zuckerberg.
Across the United States, the average father takes just one week of paternity leave. Considering only 12% of private sector workers have paid parental leave options, that isn’t surprising. (Adding a child to the family is expensive and someone has to pay the bills.) But that doesn’t mean we should just be content with it, especially as short paternity leaves breed resentment in relationships.
For Zuckerberg and other influencers like him to advocate for better parental leave policies is a major step in the right direction, but it’s going to take more than that. We need to tell our policy-makers. We need to tell our employers. We need to tell others in our generation and those younger than us: Paternity leave shouldn’t be a privilege.
That’s a message it would be great to see more of on our favorite social networks.