Alexis Ohanian would not trade his paternity leave for the world!
The 36-year-old businessman and founder of Reddit began a new personal essay for The New York Times about his decision to take his 16-week leave when he and his wife, Serena Williams, welcomed their 1-year-old daughter, Olympia, in September 2017.
“Nothing could have dragged me away from my wife and daughter in those hours, days and weeks – and I am grateful that I was never forced to choose between my family and my job,” he wrote.
Ohanian noted that Williams was confronted with ‘near-fatal complications’ during the birth of Olympia and expressed how important his free time was for their families.
“Serena spent days in recovery, fighting for her life against pulmonary embolism. When we came home with our baby, Serena had a hole in her stomach that needed bandage changes every day, “he recalled the tennis pro who had an C emergency section. “She used medication. She couldn’t walk. “
Ohanian noted that his time at Olympia made him more confident of himself as a parent from an early age.
“Spending a lot of time with Olympia when she was a newborn gave me confidence that I could come up with this entire parenthood,” he wrote. “As the only child without cousins, I didn’t grow up around babies; in fact I had never held one until my daughter was born. In the beginning she scared me. I am a giant and she is so small .. “What if I break her? I didn’t – which was encouraging – and then I learned how to cry her, rock her to sleep, and gracefully treat her toddler years.”
He also insisted that traditional gender roles in their household were erased thanks to his paternity leave.
“Taking leave also put me on the right track for sharing parental responsibilities,” he said. “Two years later there is no stigma in our house about changing diapers, feeding Olympia, doing her hair or anything else that I might have to do.”
Ohanian speaks out to promote more fathers who take paternity leave. In the essay, he acknowledges that many families do not have the “privilege” of having so much or no free time, and notes that the US is “the only industrialized country that does not require any form of paid family leave.” He added that even when dads get paternity leave, they don’t always feel comfortable with it.
“Men are conditioned to be exclusively breadwinners – and another mouth to feed requires more bread on the table (not to mention tuition fees) – so we go to work,” he wrote. “I understand that not every father has the flexibility to say goodbye without the fear that this could have a negative impact on his career. But my message to these guys is simple: leave pays, and it continues to pay me dividends two years later. “