Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) is making a pitch for the paternity leave proposal that's included as part of President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE's American Families Plan, saying having fathers take time off after the birth of a child is "not about masculinity."
"All of the social science has told us that men need time with their children, too, and that children benefit from the father being there in those early days," Allred, 38, said in an editorial in People magazine published Monday.
"It even increases gender equity in the home when the father is able to be there as well. It's overwhelmingly beneficial to have some time for men to be with their children," wrote Allred, a former Tennessee Titans player who in 2019 became the first member of Congress to officially take paternity leave following the birth of his son, Jordan. Allred also took a month-long leave in March when his wife, Aly Eber, gave birth to the couple's second child, Cameron.
"But we have to break down the social stigma associated with that, and if a former NFL linebacker talking about paternity leave can help crack that a little bit, then that would be a good thing, because it's not about masculinity. It's about what's best for your family," he wrote.
Allred said he's trying to "deprogram" his young sons "a little bit from what I know is going to be coming in terms of gender expectations and masculinity."
"I want them to understand that gender equity doesn't mean that they have any less rights or any less capacity to chase whatever their dreams are, but it just means that women are every bit as equal, every bit as deserving of a chance to chase theirs as well," said the lawmaker.
"I've thought a lot about what being a 'good father' is, and I think number one, it is setting an example," Allred wrote. "There's just no substitute for time spent, for being there whenever your kid needs that input, needs that feedback."
Allred argued that Biden's $1.8 trillion proposal, which calls for the creation of a national paid family and medical leave program, would "acknowledge the reality that I think Americans have already arrived at."
Taking paternity leave, Allred said, will likely make him a better member of Congress.
"I think it will allow me to serve my constituents better," he said, "for having had that time and that understanding."