Importance of play time
THE benefits to be gained from paid paternity leave continue beyond a father's initial bonding period with his baby, resulting in significant positive outcomes in the child's life.
Paid paternity leave can vary from the two weeks proposed for Australian fathers, starting in January 2013, to Sweden's stipulation of a minimum two months' leave to qualify for payment in their country.
Research confirms that mothers and fathers bond in unique ways with their children.
While the mother-child bond relies on the nurturing aspects of child care, fathers establish their bond through play.
Dr Richard Fletcher, author of The Dad Factor, has completed research into the effects of the father-child relationship.
He states that a father's early involvement in a baby's life yields emotional and social positives that will continue to benefit the child for life.
The newborn baby is alert to the father's tone of voice soon after birth and Dr Fletcher suggests that when fathers engage in early caring interaction, it paves the way for healthy emotional, physical and cognitive development.
Dr Fletcher suggests that stimulating activities such as "peek-a-boo" can assist brain development in an infant.
Ongoing active involvement which eventually evolves into rough and tumble play can enhance the child's ability to handle the stresses that accompany learning.
The University of Florida's report, titled The Hidden Benefits of Being an Involved Father, promotes the value of encouraging and providing opportunities for fathers to engage and bond with their children.
The report states that a father-child bond can decrease problem behaviours for boys and improve mental health for girls.
This bonding provides positive outcomes for dads as well.
They enjoy great relationships with their children, have an enhanced ability to cope with everyday hassles, develop a willingness to trust others more and feel increased satisfaction in their workplace.
The benefits for a child, in having both parents actively involved in their upbringing, are undeniable.
Paid paternity leave provides an opportunity for fathers to engage with their baby without the added distraction of work and it acknowledges the value of the father-child connection.