Dear Mark Zuckerberg,
As a struggling author and full time father/homemaker I never really thought we had much in common, outside of the fact that we both have Facebook accounts. At least that was the case until I heard that you’ll be a dad soon (mazel tov!). Raising a kid is the hardest, funnest, and most rewarding thing you’ll ever do, and while I normally shy away from giving advice to new parents, when I heard you were taking only two months of your potential four month paternity leave, I’ve changed my stance. So if you’ll allow me, I would now like to give you a little advice, dad-to-dad: take all four fucking months.
See, you’re the legendary founder of one of the world’s most dynamic companies, and in dynamic companies the team takes their cues from the leader. Thus, you shape a lot of lives by your actions. Like if you get a hoodie, all your employees will get hoodies. Or if you make limiting scope creep a priority, they’ll make limiting scope creep a priority. And if you only take two months off for your child’s birth, they’ll only take two months off for their child’s birth.
And that. Is not. Enough.
You see Mark, parenting ain’t a full time job. Full time jobs give you weekends and nights off. You get sick days. Vacations. None of that shit happens in parenting because parenting’s an all-your-time job. One that takes a lot of effort, and that can put a tremendous strain on even the strongest marriage. And that’s why people need their leave; to adjust to this new normal, to get the hang of their new roles, and gain some perspective on how much work a baby is so nobody gets taken for granted or treated unfairly. This new equilibrium takes a while to get the hang of. And that while is a hell of lot longer than sixty days.
So when Facebook employees follow your lead and only take two months for their own children they’re doing a lot more than merely proving their loyalty, drive, or toughness. They’re sacrificing the time they need to strengthen the bonds with their spouses and babies. This can lead to an instability within the family, greater stress, and I predict lower overall performance. But more importantly it also leads to less memories. Less joy. Less laughter. Less love.
And that’s for families not just in your employ. This will also affect other companies who look to your leadership, and will alter their parental leave policies accordingly. And frankly, American families already have enough to deal with.
So Mr. Zuckerberg, Mark, you changed the world for the better as the CEO of Facebook. Now it’s time to do that again as a dad.
And take all four fucking months of parental leave. Your employees, your country, and your wife, will thank you.