You’ve been waiting nine months to meet your bundle of joy and, in a blink of an eye, you must go back to work. No one should have to choose between staying home with their child and paying the bills. As a new father, you have the right to take leave from work.

State policies may vary regarding unpaid and paid leave. Missouri recently expanded paid parental leave to include more state employees. Governor Greitens signed an executive order granting paid paternity leave for more fathers in the state of Missouri. Research done by The Women’s Foundation found that paid family leave benefits families, employers, and the economy.

Benefits of paternity leave

Although paid leave is a concern for working women, paid parental leave is also important for fathers. Fathers who take paternity leave may be more likely to take an active role in caring for their child. Hands-on bonding could encourage a strong long-term parent-child relationship. Compared to fathers who do not take leave, your leave may link to the involvement you have with your children, such as feeding, bathing, and nighttime reading.

The first weeks of the baby’s life are not only an opportunity for you to build a relationship with your child while taking some pressure off a physically and emotionally drained wife. Being a hands-on father could benefit your child’s cognitive and development. Research has suggested that longer paternity leave associates with higher cognitive test scores.

Paternity leave may also benefit the mother’s career. Time away from the office solely being on the mother could affect her experience and promotions. This burden could lift when men bear more of the responsibility. When paternity leave is taken, mothers can increase full-time work that can lead to higher wages.

The benefits of paternity leave outweigh the bad for many families. In the words of Attorney General Hawley, families are the foundation of the state of Missouri and when families thrive, so does Missouri.