EAP Professor Aaron Powell Details His Parenting Leave Experience

By Dani Moritz-Long

Welcoming a new baby into the world is a difficult job. As a new mother myself, I would know. Unfortunately, not all parents are encouraged to take the time they and their little ones need to adjust and enjoy the introduction of a new family member. In particular, not all organizations extend paid parenting leave to fathers — despite them playing an important role in all functions of child-rearing. Fortunately, however, Valencia does recognize dads’ starring roles, which is why eligible, full-time new parents qualify for paid parenting leave.

Aaron Powell, professor, English for academic purposes, for one, is certainly appreciative of Valencia’s inclusive policy. A new dad who recently returned from his leave of absence, Aaron shared, “Thanks to Valencia College’s paternity (parenting) leave policy, I just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want to make sure father-to-be colleagues are aware of this generous support offered for families. All it takes is a little bit of planning and a whole lot of love.”

For Aaron and his wife, who works full time as a speech language pathologist, it was imperative that they spend ample time bonding with their daughter, named Maya, in her first several months.

“As educators,” Aaron explained, “we were both acutely aware of how important these first months can be for establishing a bond with your child. That’s not time you can make up.”

Luckily, he says, they turned to Valencia’s flexible leave policy to delay their daughter’s need for daycare and ensure there was plenty of time to get to know their bundle of joy. After Maya was born in October 2017, Aaron took a few personal days and his wife used her parenting leave, which she extended unpaid until March. They were both able to enjoy winter break at home and, during the spring, Aaron worked with his dean to arrange a schedule, which allowed him to spend time with his wife and daughter during the daytime in January and February, while maintaining a commitment to student success. Later, when his wife returned to work in March, he took over via his delayed parenting leave of absence. As a result, his daughter just recently started daycare, and Aaron and his wife soaked up plenty of crucial bonding time with their daughter.

Fondly recalling that bonding time with Maya, Aaron said, “What I’ll treasure from this time are the long, morning walks to the park with our dog, Simon. My daughter still flaps her arms and squeaks when she sees him running across the yard. At home, we played in the garden, danced to the Eurythmics, strummed guitar, rode the office chair and drove boxes. I would try to take her on daily field trips, to the library (story time and puppet shows!), a book fair, the Orlando Science Center, Publix, Home Depot, Tuesday Morning, a Korean market, a bike shop, a thrift store or a laundromat. From a language perspective, I’ve had many opportunities to provide contextual input in English, Spanish and baby sign language.”

Plus, he says, having parenting leave as a dad means he doesn’t need to rely on second-hand information from his wife.

“My wife has commented on how nice it is that she doesn’t have to explain certain things to me,” he said. “Thanks to this time I’ve spent with our daughter, I already know so many of her idiosyncrasies, her different cries, her sleepy tells.”

Reason 558 why dads, like Aaron, need parenting leave, too.

Want to know more about Aaron’s experience. Email him at apowell14@valenciacollege.edu.

Planning on adding to your family or already expecting? Learn more about what to expect from Valencia when you’re expecting by reading this series on Valencia policies, procedures and best practices.

2 Comments

  • Rebecca Toole said:

    Excellent article, Aaron! Thank you for sharing your experiences, and congratulations on your angel, Maya!

    AMTue, 21 Aug 2018 07:38:00 +0000Tue, 21 Aug 2018 07:38:00 +0000am18,7:38 am

  • Natali said:

    Exactly! Parenting leave is important for both parents. Beautiful baby and congratulations!

    PMTue, 28 Aug 2018 17:38:38 +0000Tue, 28 Aug 2018 17:38:38 +0000pm18,5:38 pm

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