Friday, August 27, 2010

UK Prime minister David Cameron taking paternity leave

A news article caught my attention this morning...British prime minister David Cameron has decided to take 2 weeks of paternity leave after the birth of his newborn daughter. He is the first British prime minister to take statutory paternity leave (although Tony Blair took time off after the birth of his son and was criticized for it).

Until this morning, I had not been aware that Cameron's older son died last February at the age of 6. He had severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

In 2007, Cameron said of his son Ivan:

"He is a magical child with a magical smile that can make me feel like the happiest father in the world. We adore him in ways that you will never love anybody else, because we feel so protective."

Although a conservative politician, Cameron has expressed support for the National Health Service because of the lessons he's learned as parent to a child with disabilities. Previous prime minister Gordon Brown also had a child die--a daughter who lived for only 10 days. In addition, one of his surviving children has cystic fibrosis.

Kudos to David Cameron for taking paternity leave and being an involved, committed dad (while being a prominent politician). It gives me hope that society is changing, even thought it sometimes seems at a glacial pace. (Cameron is 43. I imagine some crusty older conservative MPs cannot fathom Cameron's decision.) The more we can shine a spotlight on children with special needs and publicly talk about them, the better world this will be.

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