Disney: Don't leave dads out of the magic!
From: Wesley, Disneyland Cast Member
To: The Walt Disney Company
As a Disneyland Cast Member for the past six years, I’ve been a part of making magic for thousands of families. What really makes Disneyland the “happiest place on earth” isn’t just the enchanting stories or characters, it’s the experience of spending time with your family, an experience I get to facilitate every day as a Guest Relations host.
When my wife and I decided to have our first child, I was excited and looking forward to being a new dad and getting to share the magic of Disney with my daughter, but that was when I discovered that the magic Disney brings to families around the world doesn’t always apply to employees like me.
Disney only offers three weeks of paid parental leave for new dads and adoptive parents, which is hardly enough time for a new father to really bond with his daughter. Only birth mothers get any appreciable paid leave to spend with their new children without having to worry about bills; they can receive up to 12 weeks paid.
For my family, this made it especially difficult. My wife was in labor for three long days, ending in a cesarean birth. This took a significant toll on her, physically and emotionally, and left her reliant on me to take care of both her and our daughter (my wife was restricted from even driving a car for the first two months). What’s more, my daughter had to be kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to complications during her birth, and she was very delicate for those first days. The three weeks of paid leave Disney allowed me weren’t nearly enough to be able to sufficiently care for my wife and daughter, and to also really bond with my sweet little girl.
Dads and non-birth parents are discouraged from being a significant factor in their children’s development due to policies like these, relegating them to the position of merely “breadwinner” for the household. All their employees should get an equal and sufficient amount of time (12 weeks paid, minimum) to really bond with their children without having to worry about bills piling up. Disney has been a pioneer in many areas of equality, from LGBT spousal benefits to diversity of race and gender norms in their entertainment, and it’s time for them to take the lead here as well.
Disney is a magical place for the families of their guests, but the reality for the families of their employees is not nearly as magical. Disney’s child-bonding leave policy is archaic, stuck in an era where only the fathers worked and the mothers stayed at home, something even their movies today contradict. Every day at Disneyland I get to see dads sharing incredible moments with their children, and I want that same experience for myself and all the other fathers that work for this company.
Join me in calling on Disney to be a leader once again by extending its paid parental leave policy so fathers like me have the same opportunity to be there with our children when they need us the most!
--Wesley, Disneyland Guest Relations, Anaheim, CA