On the first Sunday of June, celebrating Father’s Day, we have talked with the dads working at Danske Bank, whose families do not share the old-fashioned stereotypes about gender. The dads are certain that an open mind and honest conversations between partners allow them to create a family atmosphere where dad feels great for taking a long parental leave, and where kids can enjoy their childhood without following the outdated norms that are still rather prevalent.
„Will I be able to take care of my kids? This question really surprised and even insulted me.“
“We have been living in Lithuania for 2.5 years and during this time I have experienced myself that the gender stereotypes are still existing to some extent, especially in terms of family and how it should function. For example, when my wife went on a longer vacation with her friends, this surprised some people around me and I was asked whether I will be able to take care of my kids for two weeks. Will I be able to take care of my kids? This question really surprised and even insulted me,” told Michael.
According to him, gender stereotypes are passed on to children, thus limiting their abilities to freely choose their favourite activities, colours, and toys, or even to express their emotions. Michael tries to avoid this. He openly talks with his sons about the norms imposed by society and tries to create an environment where his kids can develop awareness and are able to choose for themselves, ignoring such labels as “this is for men” or “this is for women”.
“Yes, my wife is better at sewing, and I feel comfortable managing our family’s insurance affairs, but this relates to personal choices, experience and acquired knowledge, rather than gender. She is great at handling a hammer, while I believe I make more delicious desserts. She teaches the boys how to fish, and I teach them how to dance. We try to distance ourselves from any stereotypes associated with gender, whether it would be related to raising children, or their care when they get sick,” said Michael.
„Enjoy your time with your kid, have fun, play. Even if you are not going on a parental leave, you are the best dad for your child, so use the time you have with him or her properly,“
“My wife Guoste and I came to this decision together. I felt that my then-current job became a somewhat boring routine, and I wanted something new. At the time, my wife was planning a change in her career, which required more time. So we came to the natural conclusion that this is worth trying. During the first three months of the parental leave, all of us stayed at home together, with my wife spending more time on her studies and me getting used to taking care of the child. Later, when my wife found a job, Vytis and I stayed alone and had fun time together,” shared Jonas.
He said that such a decision did not generate any negative comments or raised eyebrows from others. Jonas believes that the people around him understand that every person, just as every family, chooses their own way that they understand and envision best.
Jonas also told that his return to work after a long parental leave was rather smooth. The biggest effort was needed during the first months after the parental leave, when little Vytis started going to a kindergarten – then he and his wife had to recalibrate their duties to find the most suitable balance for their family. After a short while, the young family was back on track. Now, Jonas himself can share some advice with current and future parents.
“Enjoy your time with your kid, have fun, play. Even if you are not going on a parental leave, you are the best dad for your child, so use the time you have with him or her properly. Don’t forget mom, discuss any concerns in your family openly, and together you will find ways to solve them. Everything will be alright,” said Jonas.
Currently, more than 250 employees of Danske Bank are on a parental leave. Still the majority of them are women, but more and more men also choose this path. Our organisation tries to ensure that all employees continue to feel part of our bank so they do not lose touch with their place of work while being on a parental leave. Employees who are on a childcare leave are provided with critical illness and accident insurance and a discount on health insurance, they can use all the discounts provided by partners and are welcome in the sports clubs located in our offices. Also, they receive invitations to events, Christmas gifts and quarterly newsletters with information relevant for employees. Additionally, a lot of attention is paid to their smooth return to work: employees’ salaries are reviewed according to the situation in the market, flexible remote work opportunities are provided, and a child-friendly environment awaits them upon return.