"The negativity was unfortunate but, in a way, maybe some good comes out of it too because it's helped us have a conversation about parental leave," Buttigieg said this week.
Buttigieg was slammed for paternity leave during the supply chain crisis from Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who criticized his absence from work.
"Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went," Carlson said during a segment earlier this month.
Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet official in U.S. history, and his husband announced the birth of twins Penelope Rose and Joseph August. Buttigieg reportedly started his leave in mid-August.
Carlson's high-profile criticism drew attention to Buttigeig and the larger issue of paternity leave, something the Transportation secretary went on to talk about during a series of appearances.
During an interview, Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Buttigeig said that "paid family leave is important" and noted that "it's not a vacation."
Definitely, on CNN's "State of the Union," he said it's work that "every American ought to be able to do" when they have a new child.
He has claimed that paid leave is still working when asked on ABC's "The View" how to shed the stigma around paternity leave.
"Culturally, we do have to get across the idea that this is work. My workday as secretary of Transportation starts at a relatively normal hour. My workday as a job starts around three in the morning," he said.
He also said that parents need to be backed when they take leave, regardless of gender.
"This is important for women who find their ability to get ahead in their careers influenced by these judgments that are being made about whether you can be a parent and an effective employee at the same time. But also men. If there's this idea that, you know, men have access to paternity leave but it's frowned on if they actually use it, obviously that doesn't work for a marriage like mine but also for a man who's married to a woman," he said.
The White House has also brought awareness to the issue and pushed back on a Newsmax reporter's challenge this week about whether it would have been wise for Buttigieg, who is known to bike to his office, to "get back on the bicycle, so to speak, and come back to work?"