ME DÁ LICENÇA - © KARIN HUECK

Ivan Barbosa,
36, social activist
How he took his leave: he got fired when his first child was born, and ended up staying home for 4 months. When his daughter was born, he had paid leave for almost one month.

Photo courtesy of Ivan Barbosa

I am the oldest of four boys and I was seven years old when my first brother was born. Many times I had to do the care work, which usually ends up being done by girls. I was from a very poor family, my father and mother were always working. So on many days I was the one getting my brothers ready in the morning, taking them to school - it was all very precarious because I was a child too. So fatherhood wasn’t something new for me, because I had already experienced it somehow, in some instances.


 

I am a very peaceful person. But after becoming a father, I discovered that I could be a violent person too. I would do anything to defend my children. And that's very strange. Me, a peaceful person, was suddenly fantasizing about how I would act violently if someone did something to my children. I find that very odd.

"I didn't decide to take a leave. When my first child was born, I was forced to stay at home because I was fired. In the second one, they gave me the leave. But if I hadn't had the chance, I probably wouldn't have taken that time. We would have huge financial problems if I stopped working."


 

I'd like to feel less possessive and less scared of the things that might happen to the children - things that will eventually happen someday. I am very afraid, and I end up protecting them too much. I hope that I will be able to free myself from this in the next few years.

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"The biggest difficulties during that time were the financial ones. My ex didn't talk to her family for a while, and that left us without support from them. We ended up in a social housing program. Nothing works when you don't have money."