TODAY

TODAY   |  June 14, 2013

Why are so many dads turning down paternity leave?

As more employers are offering paid paternity leave, a lot of men are choosing not to take it or to take only part of it. TODAY’s Matt Lauer reports and Denene Millner of MyBrownBaby.com, comedian Jason Good, and Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal discuss the phenomenon.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now what grabbed our attention, why dads don't take paternity leave even at a time when more and more companies are offering paid time off.

>> reporter: 37-year-old brent daily is doing what he loves most, spending time with his son and baby daughter but this boulder, colorado software executive sacrificed a lot during their young lives .

>> when my daughter was born i took three days of paternity leave and our company affords us a month of paid leave.

>> just after his daughter was born, brett turned down almost all of his paternity leave .

>> we were in the midst of a lot of big projects at the time.

>> reporter: a new survey shows 15% of u.s. companies provide paid leave for new dads. 2 to 6 weeks , yahoo 8 weeks, bank of america , 12 weeks. still a lot of new dads are reluctant to stay home with the baby.

>> we're living in this economy that is so pressure filled right now to do a good job that any time taken off is a weakness.

>> reporter: men that work for smaller companies don't get paid leave. they're worried about putting the stigma before their work in france, new fathers get 28 weeks off. germany 52 weeks and sweden 61 weeks mandated by law. the vast majority of men take a week or two at most. still not everyone feels that way. many young fathers day paternity leave is a benefit that shouldn't be thrown away.

>> i feel professional driven and i want to succeed at my job but you're never going to get this time back.

>> she is a best selling author and editor of my brown baby.com. and jason good is a dad, comedian and writer. good morning to all of you. nice to see you. guys, who has kids? one, two -- okay. how many weeks off, how much time did you take off.

>> i took off less than two weeks.

>> less than two weeks.

>> i took all of my vacation and then a month unpaid.

>> so you took a lot of time off.

>> yes.

>> do you think, as we just heard in that piece, do you think there's still a stigma attached, guy takes paternity leave , if his company gives it to him or not, do you think at work he's viewed by his peers or employer as weak for doing that.

>> i don't think so even though i'm being a hypocrite because i have my own business and we offer 4 weeks paternity leave but what we find is when people don't take leave other people say you should take out more time and spend it with your family.

>> why do you think with more and more companies and 15% -- although we haven't caught up with europe, at least the move is in the right direction. if more and more companies are saying to their male employees you can take paid time off, why do guys have a problem with it?

>> i think that they have a problem with it for two reasons. one is because they want to get back to what they believe is a competitive work environment.

>> are they left behind if they're gone.

>> if they're ambitious. i wasn't particularly ambitious. so i took more time. but i also think there's a period where they want to go back to work because it's such chaos in their home.

>> it's a double edged sword.

>> you feel like get a burp cloth, do this, do that and you're like have to get out of here where i can tell somebody what to do.

>> when you had your children your husband did not have paid paternity leave ; is that true.

>> he did not but the first baby he was a freelancer and author working from home and the second time he took his vacation days.

>> how important was that to you?

>> it was tremendous i had a new baby and the second baby i had a toddler and just the sheer physicality of it i needed someone to help me because i had a baby but it was emotionally just awesome because i had my husband there to help me start this new family.

>> we put a poll up and asked people what they thought was the appropriate paternity leave for a new father. 44%, the largest group says 2 weeks. same amount of time as moms, 36%. one week 16%, none at all, 4%. we did this discussion in our office yesterday and one of the dads there said he did take two weeks off but he said he thought about it the entire time he was off. he had guilt about it the entire time. is that normal to you, you think?

>> i think so but you're also up in the middle of the night so you're probably thinking about a whole host of things but it's just a characteristic of when i pull out my cell phone i want to be checking my e-mail constantly.

>> is this a case where men are now being forced to grapple with the same questions that women have been grappling with for years.

>> absolutely. welcome to a mom's world. when we have our babies we're thinking about work too. we're thinking about how it's going to effect our position at work and what everyone else is thinking about it but we also have this baby and everybody expects us to cut it off and focus on the child and geb welcome to our work.

>> more and more men deal with it. 15% of companies offering this and that number is on the rise. guys, ladies, thank you we appreciate