This morning, I left the house early to work out. My husband Peter arose with the kids—Penny, age 8, William, 5, and Marilee, almost 3. I returned to find them in various forms of protest, insisting I make their breakfast even though their dad is equally capable of slicing banana bread and strawberries.

The morning progressed and Peter tried to help out—packing lunches, showers, getting dressed, making beds, brushing teeth—as our children continued to resist his assistance. They swarmed me for most of the time, with one break to pillow-fight with their father.

Liza Mundy's recent article in The Atlantic, Daddy Track: The Case for Paternity Leave, suggests that the parenting imbalance in our household has a specific root. I took maternity leave. And although my husband and I talked for years about sharing parenting responsibilities, he took only a few days off from work after each of our children was born.

Peter said he would stop working or work part-time so he could be with the kids and I could work more, but his job provided our housing and health insurance. What's more, as a writer, I brought in approximately $2 an hour, leaving me to find a better-paying job I didn't really want or to keep plugging away at writing during the kids' naps.

With time, it didn't seem to make sense for us to switch roles. I knew the routines. He liked his job. We secured some childcare so I could keep writing. And finally, as much as I bemoaned my life as a part-time SAHM, I also cherished what I learned from being around these little ones every day. The small decisions about who sang the kids to sleep and who changed the dirty diapers and who planned the meals all became patterns of life together.

It has worked out for us, and yet I wonder how much our children have missed out as a result of our bifurcated roles. While separation of tasks makes many decisions easier, it also comes at a cost. Peter brings different qualities to the household than I do, so I've often wished we could more fully share both aspects of adult life—the responsibilities at home and the work hours. Moreover, in his role as father, Peter can offer an understanding of our heavenly Father that I cannot. It's not to say he is a perfect parent, nor that my mothering won't provide our children with some understanding of God's character. But Jesus teaches us to pray to our Daddy, and for kids to experience the care and leadership of a good and loving earthy father can pave the way for them to better understand God's grace and truth in their lives.

Mundy's article points out that the positive social gain of maternity leave, initially offered for medical reasons, has nevertheless led to a separation of home and work roles among male and female. This separation is evident even in "progressive" societies like Sweden, in which paid year-long maternity leave has led to an even harder glass ceiling for women in the workplace.

Thankfully, Mundy doesn't propose abolishing maternity leave and getting women back to work quickly in order to overcome this problem. Rather, she advocates for the positive personal and social value of paternity leave.

Paternity leave encourages men to bond with their children, to learn the routines and needs of the household from day one. It establishes patterns that enable men to continue their involvement in the household even once they resume working—including spending more hours with their kids on workdays and taking more time for family vacation. Furthermore, it changes the culture of the workplace so that both parents become concerned with the health and stability of the family and the possibilities for a meaningful work-life balance.

Progressive feminist thought has often thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Instead of advocating for greater social and personal supports for women with unplanned pregnancies, and instead of calling upon men to take equal responsibility for the children conceived, we've legalized abortion. Instead of advocating for self-control and mutual respect and care in sexual relationships, we've determined that girls can be just like boys in their hookups, infidelities, and exploits. Much of the feminist movement has not empowered and protected women or called men to greater responsibility for their actions and relationships. Rather, it has encouraged women to become just like men.

Paternity leave certainly counts as progressive social policy. But for once it supports families rather than undercutting them. This policy allows workplaces to support men in becoming active participants and leaders within their households from the moment their children are born. Generous paternity leave is an example of feminism gone right, in which families as a whole are strengthened.

As Mundy points out, right now, only the states of California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey mandate paternity leave. A few other states are due to follow soon. The church has an opportunity to get out on the front end of a cultural trend that strengthens families while enabling greater female involvement in church leadership by instituting generous paternity leave policies. Such policies would not only do good for the people involved but would also send a positive message to our culture about what (and who) we are for instead of what we are against.

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Last month, a photo of an African-American dad with his two daughters went viral. It shows him with an infant strapped to his chest combing his two-year old daughter's hair. The father—who also happens to be a portrait of masculinity with muscular arms, dressed in camoflauge shorts—had taken paternity leave. The viral response to this photo demonstrates how unusual it is to see a dad (and an African-American dad too) involved in domestic childcare duties. And yet the image hints at the strength and stability a family gains when both mother and father can care for their children and work outside the home.