In a recent interview with CNN, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian spoke about his experience as a father so far and how becoming a dad has changed his outlook on life and business. Ohanian, who is married to tennis superstar Serena Williams, expressed his gratefulness for getting to take paternity leave after his daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., was born in September 2017.
“To have those moments and feel that closeness was just spectacular and there are things we have with each other that I’m grateful for. Being able to develop that connection to the little one, but then also to my partner, my wife was so valuable as well.”
Ohanian also admits that before becoming a dad, he did not fully grasp the importance of paternity leave but once his child was born, he immediately saw how lucky he was to have the opportunity to spend time with his family. He also noted that paternity leave wasn’t just a pleasant experience, it was also a necessary one, as it gave him the opportunity to support Williams when she had health complications after giving birth.
“I had every intention as co-founder and executive to lead by example and take that whole period, and I didn’t realize though just how important that would be. My wife had had a really great pregnancy but then complications during and after the birth meant she was dealing with a lot herself and I had to do everything I could to be the supportive husband and supportive father, and it really put into perspective for me how important creating this family leave policy is for men and women who want to become parents.”
Sadly, the United States is still woefully behind the rest of the world when it comes to providing paid leaves for parents, especially dads, but, thankfully, people like Ohanian are starting to understand that giving generous parental leave doesn’t just benefit the new moms and dads, it benefits companies as well.
“What it’s ultimately going to mean for the organization is a way healthier, better functioning organization. I think what is lost on a lot of people is your teams are not robots, they are humans and if you really are expecting them to do great work, they need to be in a great state of mind.”