Zuckerberg style paternity leave..is it relevant?


Reading about one of the world’s busiest men running the Facebook empire wanting to take paternity leave got me thinking. Does this mean that Silicon Valley is officially recognizing paternity leave as an important step in encouraging and empowering men to share the responsibilities that come from a new born in the family? If so, it certainly sounded good.

Tech companies have always encouraged maternity/paternity leave in the hope of retaining talent. Yet most have not made much use  of the facility, it seems, for fears of missing out on the pace of work. Even in the case of Marisa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, who chose to take minimum time out with both of her pregnancies, worked throughout.

Comparisons aside, Zuckerberg’s statement is a powerful one and highlights the importance of giving family due time. In tech driven businesses, this can be a tough call. Not that it is easier elsewhere. Careers have been put on hold for those wanting to go all the way in caring for children. In the case of Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, it is even more poignant because the couple miscarried earlier. The significance of wanting to spend time with the new born and be around the new mother in a role that both empowers and assists her,must mean considerably to the Facebook founder.

So, does this mean that paternity leave is important for all men whose wives are due to give birth? Or is it just more of the politically correct statements and standpoints to show the world that gender is a key issue in Silicon Valley?

Paternity leave, I’m certain, does help. I remember the aftermath of having my daughter, recovering from a bleeding fibroid and facing the post natal depression blues. Having my husband around helped. It was not just sharing the work – it was also being able to share the fears, the uncertainties, the complications and being able to be comforted and soothed by the person closest to you and the family. Sometimes, what matters is the fact that your husband is around – not even doing anything but just being there so that you can be assured everything is alright. New mothers need an extra hand in reassurance, as we all know.

Undoubtedly, Zuckerberg has set a new standard for all the young, tech driven fathers out there. As a parent who is also a millennial, his decision speaks much for the restoration of faith in families, in fathers wanting to spend time with children and in giving family priority over work. It tells the young generation that work could never replace family, which in itself is a strong delivery. It puts the concept of getting married, having children, raising a family in a new light – for the better.

Now that the founder of the social media giant Facebook confirms paternity leave is ok, we should see the concept gaining momentum at places of work. Argued, evaluated, thought over, mulled over – call it what you may. Every new mother would benefit from an extra pair of hands – especially from the one  who is closest to her.




Cherish the moment…

Cherish the moment…

So many tragedies, so many tears – from the shooting in Oregon to the flooding in South Carolina grabbing headlines the same week…ISIS is still wreaking havoc in the Middle East and at home, we still haven’t established who killed little Seya..it’s a dark world and it is easy to drown in all in sorrow, in one big heap..

But we are a people of hope…I speak as a Christian who believe that my Redeemer lives..I also speak as a mother and a wife and I believe that we must be able to cultivate our moments that empower us to overcome the sadness, the bitter world around us. It is so easy to go along with the flow and feel the negative vibes but we must swim upstream.

Many of us get through the day absorbed in what we do – often, our work. We connect to the world on our computers and smart phones and it becomes so easy to be wrapped up in our own little worlds. Can we step aside and connect with those around us? Can we spend a moment to cherish with our children, aging parents, a lonely co-worker, a neighbour who recently lost a loved one? Could we reach out to other people and maybe take some of the loneliness, the anger, the frustrations away?

It is the moments spent in the company of others that enrich our souls – that make us who we are.Too many of us hide behind our phones or our lap tops as we connect and entertain ourselves ; it is important to switch off the devices and switch on what makes us who we are – the human connections that enrich us.

Dinner table conversation is a good place to start. Teach the children to connect to one another – they are increasingly connected to devices too and sometimes, we are guilty of using the very devices as babysitters. Two year olds are entertained by iPads and by five, they don’t need company, they’ve got it all together, entertaining themselves.

Cherish the moment. Get off the computer and take your daughter or son to a walk in the park. Let not the darkness around us get in. We can light a candle in our own lives – it can and must come from us.

Just last week, we visited some of my husband’s relatives in the country – the beautiful surroundings of Dodanduwa, Hikkaduwa. The old house had been beautifully restored and the sprawling garden and a cool well was a treat to behold. Just sitting in the old verandah, doing nothing but listening to the sounds of nature, laughing and catching up with a few, many such a difference in our lives that day. It gave me a memory to cherish. I can still close my eyes and see in my mind’s eyes the fireflies gathering as the night fell, the sunset slowly coming over the greenery of many hues.

Let us not let a troubled world trouble us too. We can and must take refuge in what we do everyday -find the time to cherish moments spentwith each other.



Busy lives often means tight careers and even tighter personal spaces. It’s a tough battle to keep everything on the burners all at once but that’s the standard formula for today’s busy woman – whether she is powering a rewarding career or is an entrepreneur who must put in an insane amount of hours per day. Still, children must be taken care of, home chores done and family held together through it all. When all is said and done, the one last on the list is the woman of the house. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is perfectly alright to consider yourself important too. If you are not up mentally, physically and spiritually to meet the challenges of life, then chances are that no one around you , whether family or colleagues will be, either. Over-worked, depressed and demotivated women (or men) are likely to take wrong decisions, break easily and allow themselves to spiral downward in face of adversity. There is no better individual to be taken care of once in a while than you yourself. But for most women, that’s the hardest thing to do.

Experts recommend that you spend some time on yourself everyday – they call it the ‘Me time’ to recharge, regenerate and recover from the daily hum- drum of life. The ‘Me time’ can be spent in prayer or meditation, reading, sitting down, being pampered in a salon or simply sitting down by yourself with a good cup of tea. The idea is to unwind and give your systems a chance to clear the clutter and calm down.  Some companies and organizations encourage the concept of “me time’ where top executives actually get some time off during the week to engage in ‘me time’.

Finding the time to spend doing nothing is also considered vital in keeping the work sanity balance. A Saturday afternoon can be set aside for the doing nothing session. Ideally, this portion of time must be totally unplanned and kept for spontaneous activity such as watching a movie, going shopping or just hanging around. Although we can and often do get into a work mode by default, it is important to keep this part of the week to do nothing on purpose. It can be rewarding once you fit it into a busy week and before long, you begin to enjoy the stress-free half a day that really enables you recuperate from an insanely busy week.

Spending time talking is also a key therapeutic element in achieving the successful work-life matrix. Whether it is the kids, ageing parents, the spouse or colleagues, spending some amount of time connecting is important, especially in today’s highly entertaining environment of social media , smart phones and the internet. With all those communicative devices, we increasingly find ourselves checking our smart phones while waiting for the bus or our turn at the doctor’s or the supermarket counter.

We no longer make polite small talk that used to turn strangers into friends and acquaintances into colleagues – we can easily be content with our speakers connected to our smart phone playing You Tube videos or music. Or check Facebook status. Making conversation is a dying art – I remember reading that following the power outage caused by the infamous storm in New York, a mother discovered that her children actually could not make conversation with other children of the same age when they had nothing to do when their electronic gaming devices and smart phones went out and could not be charged. In fact, we would do well to realize and discover that those who could make conversation an interesting choice are likely to make new social and business connections easily than others.

Do we spend time recharging, researching and updating ourselves in our chosen field of work? This is an important area – for an example, doctors are expected to update themselves regularly on status of research findings on various relevant illnesses and other heaps of information that flows steadily from on-going research projects. For professionals and others, updating today is no longer a tedious task given the plethora of information available on line at the click of a button. But it is vital that we choose to find the time to update ourselves regularly. Otherwise, we can become like software that is not updated – we lose track of the new developments, the new trends and innovations and thereby, lose the edge in keeping ourselves relevant.

We should find the time to challenge ourselves by never giving up on thinking new ideas and concepts. There is something fundamentally powerful about innovative ideas whose time has come. If not for brilliant ideas, half of the most successful products and services would not have been created. From Facebook that started out as a social network among friends to eBay and Google, some of the web’s most powerful companies and of course Apple, among others, ideas evolved into a powerhouse of growth and financial success.

In a nutshell, keep looking for ways in which you can allow yourself to stay as sharp as the knife that has been consistently sharpened. That’s the only – and the smart way to stay on top of things.