This article examines recent parental leave initiatives in France and the UK within the context of broader debates about family policy. Specifically, it analyses the 2006 Work and Families Act and changes to the Complément de Libre Choix d'Activité. It argues that the discourse of parental choice in both countries is deployed to open up the space for public policy and renegotiate the boundaries between the public and private spheres. However, the dynamics of family policy remain highly path-dependent. In Britain, the equalities lobby is important but the abstract logic of the market dominates, while in France natalist policy focuses on the 'working mother'