Men taking Baby Bonding Parental Leave

Making family a priority

Robert McKeon Aloe
4 min readDec 29, 2020

When I started working, parental leave wasn’t an interesting job benefit, but for anyone who doesn’t have children, why would it be? Once I had a baby on the way, the benefit seemed vital to my ability to be a good husband and father.

When my first baby was born, I was working from home 60% of the time and commuting from Pittsburgh to DC the rest of the time. This situation worked well for three years before my son was born. It was cost effective and gave my wife and I a little break from each other. This all changed as did my willingness to commute for work.

That company didn’t have a parental leave policy in part because nobody did back in the early 2010’s, and most people didn’t have kids at this young start up. I didn’t even consider that benefit when accepting the job, not like I had tons of choices due to the economy.

The year my son was born, five other men at the company became new fathers. I was given four days after her giving birth, and then I could work from home for two months without coming to DC. At the time, it was the best one could hope for. I could take Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time, but they would deduct it from my accrued PTO time. You could say that’s fair, but it leaves me in a bind between having time to break from work and having time to take care of my family. Even my wife didn’t want me to use that time because it would interfere with our plans later in the year.

The travel was difficult as it takes more than 6 weeks to recover from a c-section. It takes more than 6 weeks to recover from giving birth no matter the condition. There is so much new and so many body changes.

Suddenly, I was looking for a new job because the travel was unbearable and the company seemed like it was going under.

When I started at Apple, they gave six weeks paid paternity or baby bonding time, and usually a bit more under the table time off. However, six weeks was guaranteed. My son turned 1 year old when he moved out here, so I didn’t immediately benefit.

A few months later, they changed the policy to be 6 weeks of paid leave, and you could take an additional 6 weeks using sick time, vacation time, or unpaid. This was awesome! It meant another 6 weeks because I don’t use sick time often. When my second son was born, it was suggested to me by my manager at that time to take some time at the beginning and some at the end of their first year to get to know him.

We used all 12 weeks. We used a few weeks at the beginning, some combined with Christmas break for a longer stay, a trip to Italy, and a longer break for Thanksgiving. The extra benefit was that my vacation days continued to accrue for the next year.

Some people don’t take the full 12 weeks or they don’t realize they could use sick time. Some times, they don’t think their projects will survive or they feel more tied to their work.

If you’re not using a benefit provided by work, you’re just throwing money down the drain.

I suppose my view of paternity leave is colored by my father. He worked long weeks for years for a company; he sacrificed time with his family to help take care of us financially. However, when push came to shove, he left a company he had once considered family. So while I have a great fondness for my company, at the end of the day we have a contract where they pay me in money and benefits, and I work.

When I graduated college, my great uncle pulled me aside and said, “You can always get paid for your time, but you can never pay to get that time back.”

That has stuck with me. I’m sure I’m making a dent in the universe in my current job, but my family gives me something that money can’t pay for, an opportunity to love unconditionally.

If I don’t use the benefits my company provides, they are getting something for free because that was part of the contract. So I recommend everyone to use your baby bonding leave. You only stand to regret not using a benefit you’re paying for with your time.



Robert McKeon Aloe

I’m in love with my Wife, my Kids, Espresso, Data Science, tomatoes, cooking, engineering, talking, family, Paris, and Italy, not necessarily in that order.