Creating the Space for Paternity Leave - Justin Lioi, LCSW - Brooklyn, NY

A reporter from Refinery 29 interviewed me regarding paternity leave and the challenges of asking for it–and getting it–in today’s workforce.

So many of the guys I work with are coming to counseling because they want to parent differently than their dads. Not that their fathers were necessarily abusive or neglectful, but the standard for how a man is a parent is changing and many of my clients want to be more present and paternity leave would allow for that.

There are a bunch of reasons they want to be more present:

They want it for their child–to have an involved dad for the day-to-day stuff.

They want it for their partner–to ease the burden, to make the relationship more 50/50.

They want it for themselves–they want to be there, they want to grow from this, they want to feel proud.

All are pretty great reasons, though, unfortunately, we’re all within a system that takes our best intentions and puts up barriers to paternity leave. Part of these barriers are society’s (and often our own) expectations for dads. There’s the derogatory Mr. Mom comment or the weirdly laudable Saint comment when a dad goes grocery shopping with his 1-year-old: he’s just being a dad, not doing anything that shouldn’t be expected of him.

The article on paternal leave dips into different fathers’ approaches to being present the way they want to be. Some end up

  • leaving a job
  • suing their company
  • negotiating at work

and these options may or may not be open to you, especially depending on the level of power and financial capability you have.

Embedded in all of this is your relationship–what kind of balance are you looking for together? What kind of father and partner do you want to be? Where are your strengths as a couple? And if you’re doing this on your own–how are you managing it all? Here’s a link to the Refinery 29 article What Do Men Do On Paternity Leave? Become Dads.

Do you know what you want? Because sometimes it’s as simple as asking for it at your place of business–even being the first to do so. If you’re interested in diving down into the type of dad you want to be or figuring out how to be more assertive at work and in your relationships, give me a shout and we can schedule a FREE 20 minute consultation to talk through what’s going on.


Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert based in Brooklyn, NY (and online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been working in family and men’s counseling for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.