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‘I Hope You’re Never Afraid When I’m Around’: Dads Share Their Stories

In honor of Father’s Day, this week’s episode of Inside Appalachia is dedicated to dads. 

A man’s brain is rewired when he holds his newborn baby just after birth. Scientists have found that after holding his infant in his arms for 30 minutes, a dad’s brain gets flooded with dopamine and oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as “the love hormone.” In just a few moments, his brain chemistry is changed forever. 

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Credit Glynis Board
Baby Cai on his dad Chuck Kleine's chest.

This episode includes stories from new fathers who have spent more time with their children during the coronavirus lockdown, a dad remembers his daughter’s birth 37 years ago, and we include  a personal essay about what it's like to become a foster dad. 

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Credit StoryCorps
Thomas Burger and Renee Frymyer

In this interview, recorded in the StoryCorps recording bus in 2018, Renee Frymyer and her father Thomas Burger discussed an uncommon practice for a dad back in the 1970s. He stayed home as a full-time father for a year while his wife worked. 

Only two percent of fathers stayed home with the kids back then, and 40 years later, it’s only reached to four percent. A Pew Research Center survey from 2013 found that eight percent of people in the U.S. said children are better off if their father is home and doesn’t work, while more than half think kids are better off if their mother holds down the fort.

There hasn’t been a lot of research yet into how the pandemic has affected the role of dads at home. Several fathers have said the pandemic has given them more time to bond with their kids.

We talked with dads about paid paternity leave. In the United States, this luxury isn't available for the majority of men. Nine out of 10 dads take some time off work when their baby is born, but most of that is unpaid, according to the Department of Labor. Beginning this October, two million federal workers will get up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Earlier this year, President Trump signed into law the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which allows paid time off for federal employees who are new parents, including foster and adoptive parents. The law doesn’t apply to workers in the private sector and it’s still far less time off work than what parents get in many other countries. 

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Credit Courtesy Hani Saad
Hani Saad lives in Morgantown, W.Va. with his wife and daughter. He's been working from home during the pandemic, which has allowed him more time to spend with his newborn daughter.

If you’re a parent, did you get paid parental leave? How long did it last? Keep this conversation going. You can tweet us at @InAppalachia.  

Several members of the team that produce this show each week decided to share their own stories of fatherhood.

You’ll hear Inside Appalachia producer Roxy Todd’s birth story from her father, associate producer Eric Douglas’ ruminations on fatherhood as his children have grown up, reporter Molly Born’s reflection on grief after the death of her father and guest host Zack Harold’s story about becoming a father through the foster care system. 

wvpublicnews · ‘I Hope You’re Never Afraid When I’m Around’: Dads Share Their Stories

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Credit Courtesy Joe Buckland
Joe Buckland is a father in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was by Jason Isbell, John R. Miller, Spencer Elliot, David Bowie, Dinosaur Burps and Blue Dot Sessions.

Roxy Todd is our producer. Eric Douglas is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Glynis Board. She also edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Molly Born, Kara Lofton and Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. 

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

You can also send us an email to Inside Appalachia@wvpublic.dot.org

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.
Eric is a native of Kanawha County who graduated from Marshall University with a degree in journalism. He has written for newspapers and magazines throughout his career. He is an author, writing both nonfiction and fiction, including a series of thriller novels set in locations around the world. You can reach Eric at edouglas@wvpublic.org