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Measure would grant paternity parity in military parental leave

When it comes to views on parental leave the United States still tends to lag behind other developed countries. Most new Texas parents likely would agree with this assessment. Mothers tend to get the lion's share of the time off compared to what fathers get.

Why that is could probably stoke the flames of a lot of heated arguments. Perhaps it's the result of some paternalistic bow to childbirth. Maybe it stems from some notion that mother and child deserve the longer block of time to properly bond. Of course, the question that raises is, what about the father?

Current thinking within the social sciences and the law seems to recognize that paternity is just as important as maternity to the overall well being of children. Still, in practice fathers may find it a challenge to exercise their rights, or alternatively may find themselves facing obligations for support and care which they may not feel are deserved. In the face of confusing and complicated legal questions, getting the help of a qualified attorney is crucial.

When thinking of bastions of progressive thinking on this issue, the Department of Defense might not spring immediately to mind. But there are some indications that things could be changing.

For example, earlier this year, the secretary of defense ordered all military branches to adopt a standard policy granting 12 weeks of leave to service women after a birth. Up to that point the branches had been able to set their own leave limits. At the same time DOD officials say they're discussing whether to expand leave times for fathers and adoptive parents.

Interestingly, there are some in Congress who want to push the issue beyond discussion and into reality. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House that would boost parental leaves to 12 weeks for all service members, and it wouldn't matter if it was for a birth, an adoption or even a foster placement. Right now such leaves are at just 10 days for men and can be denied at a commander's discretion.

Few expect the bill to pass. Some observers say they do expect what will happen is that a Pentagon proposal to grant 14-day paternity leaves will be approved.

What do you think should happen?

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