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More and more fathers are taking parental leave because they want to

On the occasion of Father’s Day, the Share the Care Foundation, in partnership with Gillette, launched the third edition of the Men at 100 PRO campaign. This initiative highlights the crucial role of fathers in their children’s lives and underscores the personal benefits that fatherhood brings to men.

On the occasion of Father’s Day, the third edition of the Men at 100 PRO campaign was launched, which reminds of the importance of the role of dads in children’s lives, but also how fatherhood serves men themselves. It also aims to educate parents about the new fathers’ rights that came into effect in 2023. Thanks to the new entitlements, 19,000 fathers took parental leave in 2023. Between January and May of this year – 16,200 already.

Involved fatherhood refers to the active and informed role of men in the upbringing and lives of their children. It ranges from day-to-day care activities to participation in education, emotional support, and building a strong bond with the child. Today’s men want to be actively involved in their children’s lives, which not only benefits the children, but is also good for themselves. This year’s ‘Men at 100 PRO’ campaign takes place under the slogan ‘I’m a dad at 100%. Because I want to.”

It is organized by the Share the Care Foundation, which, together with the Gillette brand, a strategic partner of the project, emphasizes that fatherhood is not only a duty but above all a pleasure and an opportunity to build deep, emotional bonds with children.

Is involved fatherhood becoming the norm?

The trend of involved fatherhood is becoming more and more noticeable. Men are increasingly becoming involved from the moment of pregnancy – they can be seen together with mothers in gynecological and obstetric surgeries and in delivery rooms. They can be seen at medical appointments for vaccinations and when children are ill, at meetings in nurseries and schools.

The Empowerment Children Foundation’s cyclical ‘Dad’ survey confirms what we see out of the window – fathers see more and more space for themselves to be involved in their children’s lives. 85% of fathers believe that both mother and father should equally talk to their child about their problems. 83.7% say that important decisions concerning the child should be made together. When it comes to playing and helping with learning, 81.6% and 78.2% of fathers respectively favor an equal division of tasks.

However, it is worth quoting the results of a qualitative study conducted by IQS agency on behalf of the Foundation with Share the Care from 2022. “What surprised us at the time was that although the role of the father in the child’s life is changing, the child’s bond with the mother was still considered more important than with the father for the majority of respondents, especially in the first year of the child’s life. Fathers did not realize that they had a role to play in their children’s lives that was independent of the mother. We were shocked that many of them considered themselves an inferior substitute for mum,” says Karolina Andrian, president of the Share the Care Foundation. The aim of the ‘Men at 100 PRO’ campaign is to make fathers aware of the important role they have to play in their children’s lives and why parental leave is a great opportunity to build a bond with their child.

“It’s very important to emphasize that this involvement of the dad is important from the very beginning. Not only when the child starts to communicate verbally, but right when the toddler is not yet able to speak, and involvement means mainly nursing activities, cuddling, and chattering,” – emphasizes Renata Szredzińska, president of the Empowerment Children Foundation, and adds that children who have fathers involved in care from the beginning draw on this secure emotional bond throughout their lives.

“Above all, this translates into greater trust in the dad. The child gains another person besides his mum to whom he can turn to in difficult moments for himself, also in later life. And this is important. At the moment in Poland we are talking a lot about the mental health crisis of children. It is important to remember that children who have had fathers involved from the beginning are less likely to develop mental health problems, less likely to engage in self-destructive behavior, such as self-mutilation or suicide attempts. Children who have a good relationship with their dad, precisely because of this involvement from the beginning, have higher social competencies, perform better in their relationships with their peers, and are more able to resolve conflicts constructively. They are also better at mediation because they have role models from both mum and dad, not just from one main carer. The emotional development of these children is also at a higher level. These are the children who manifest a higher sense of self-worth because they are important to two people, not just one. Such children, who have good contact with both parents, are less likely to commit crimes, engage in risky behavior or turn to stimulants in their teenage years. Splitting parental leave between mum and dad is a really great preventive measure against many problems,” – Renata Szredzińska enumerates.

Since the work-life balance directive came into force in April 2023, men are increasingly taking parental leave. According to data published in a joint report by ZUS and the Share the Care Foundation “Dads on parental. What the figures say about fatherhood in Poland”, 19,000 men took parental leave last year and the number is growing steadily. Between January and May this year, a further 16,200 fathers exercised their right to be with their child.

The results of a survey conducted in June 2024 by the WiseRabbit agency show that there is a growing willingness among Poles to share parental leave. 66% of respondents aged 18-64 (both men and women) indicated a willingness to share leave. Legal awareness of the new regulations in Poland is also growing. “The survey has shown that activities concerning the promotion of the EU work-life balance directive granting fathers the right to a non-transferable 9 weeks of parental leave are bearing fruit. Already ¾ of the respondents declare that they have heard of this directive. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the various forms of leave for fathers still create confusion in the minds of Poles. While paternity leave speaks for itself (that it is only for fathers), parental leave is still, according to the majority, intended for mothers, and less often for fathers,” – comments Dr. Marta Bierca, co-founder and partner at WiseRabbit agency.

Therefore, educational campaigns that build legal awareness of parents, including fathers, who until now have not necessarily felt targeted at parents, are important. This was also due to the fact that such messages were often accompanied by pictures of mothers,” – says Karolina Andrian and emphasizes that it is important to target the message directly at fathers. She points to the good practices of employers who, following the amendment of the Labour Code, have revised communication, procedures, and processes in the company to meet the needs of fathers.

Alongside these measures, it is important to promote so-called role models. “Today, more than ever, people need inspiration from others. People they can aspire to be. We’re talking about role models, and we believe in the importance of role models in ensuring younger generations have positive figures to aspire to, and we want to celebrate them” – says Federico Casati, Gillette’s brand director for Central Europe.

The epitome of the brand’s mission is the recent ‘Because I want to’ campaign. In the advertising spot, we can see the new brand ambassador Mateusz Damięcki, who talks about how realizing himself as a dad is a pleasure for him, not a duty. He takes care of his sons because he wants to. “Fatherhood for me is, above all, a lot of joy and happiness. But it is also a responsibility, which I understand as entering into a relationship with a child. It’s important to be with your child, to learn from each other and to make sure you don’t miss something. Because time cannot be turned back. It is a big responsibility, but it is really enjoyable. When you see the results of this involvement, the satisfaction is immense,” admits Mateusz Damięcki.

Sylwia Ziemacka
Sylwia Ziemacka
“I believe our unique selling point is that we focus on what brings us together. Poland Weekly offers something you will not find anywhere else: a truly international and unifying perspective focused on content that builds cooperation and mutual understanding. This attitude doesn't make us naïve, but it allows us to focus on mutual understanding and a search for solutions. There are so many new challenges that we are all facing, such as energy transformation, climate change and supply chain disruption, to name but a few. By working together and sharing good practices, we can achieve so much more.”