This Radio Host's Rant Reveals a Harsh Reality About Why Men Don't Take Paternity Leave

April 23rd 2017

Ready for some locker-room talk?

Boston sports talk radio host Michael Felger doesn't like paternity leave. In fact, as he explained during a recent broadcast of the "Felger and Massaroti" show, "it's one of my core things."

Typically, Felger's rants are focused on professional athletes who take time off from work to be with their wives and newborn children, but on Friday he directed his ire at a co-worker.

During a seven-minute debate with fellow 98.5 The Sports Hub employee, Michael Hurley — who recently took time off for the birth of his child — Felger asserted the following:

  • Paternity leave consists of two weeks of going "goo goo, ga ga."
  • His daughter wasn't impacted by his refusal to take paternity leave because, "never never mentioned it."
  • Hurley is "soft" for taking advantage of his employer's paternity leave policy.

Much of Felger's rant was delivered in typical sports talk style; meaning it was highly exaggerated with the intent to provoke. But at least one of Felger's lines seemed sincere, and it's revealing about why so many men refuse to take paternity leave:

"Why do you think I get to summer in Nantucket? Because I work my ass off, Hurley! Because I work my ass off! And when my wife had a baby, I went into work two days later because my work’s important to me. I didn’t think you were serious. You’re serious! You want a tissue? Why do you think I summer in Nantucket? You think that was handed to me? You asshat!”

Felger is arguing that he'd earned the right to take expensive vacations because he "worked his ass off," which includes not talking time off when his children were born.

A lot of men feel like Felger.

In June, CNN Money cited a survey from professional consulting firm Deloitte, which found that 36 percent of men wouldn't take paternity leave because they feared it would hold them back professionally.

In 2013, Forbes spoke to a several fathers who declined to take advantage of paternity leave policies offered by their employer, with one dad saying:

“I could have taken the whole week off after my son, Lyle, was born, but they said they really needed me, and they did, because it was the end of the fiscal year. I could tell they weren’t going to look kindly on my taking the whole week, so I didn’t."

So, what's to be done?

Back in May of 2015, The Economist gathered research on the benefits of paternity leave. They reported that men who take paternity leave continued to be engaged fathers even after the leave period ended. They also reported that the children of men who took paternity leave did better in school, and that their wives had more professional success.

Given these benefits, some governments have been testing mandatory parental leave, essentially eliminating the fear of falling behind by forcing everyone to take a break for their newborns.

As the Guardian's Gabrielle Jackson found:

"When Germany legislated that of a possible 14 months parental leave, two months must be taken by fathers, the percentage of men taking paternity leave went from 3 percent to more than 20 percent – in only two years.

"When Quebec introduced a similar scheme, with reserved 'daddy-only' time, participation increased by more than 250 percent. In 2010, 80 percent of Quebecois dads were taking paternity leave."

To put this in Felger's language, sometimes it's important for the coach to tell a player to sit his ass on the bench for benefit of the whole team.

[h/t Deadspin] 

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