Young dads have difficulties, that doesn’t make them deadbeats

young-dad

There was great feature on Young Fathers by Yvonne Roberts in this weekend’s Observer newspaper.

Fatherhood is one of the key issues addressed and the National Conference for Men and Boys so if this topic is important to you then book your tickets for the conference online today here.

The feature highlights research that shows that children with involved fathers generally have fewer behavioural problems, greater emotional self-regulation, increased language development and improved cognitive skills. Evidence also shows that the more fathers are involved with their children when they are babies, the more likely their relationships with their children will be sustained over years, in spite of divorce or separation.

In the UK, the proportion of fathers who aren’t living with their child’s mother from birth is higher in Britain than in most other European countries. Though an often overlooked fact is the nearly half of these fathers attend the birth and are involved in some way at the beginning of their child’s life.

In terms of young fathers,  Roberts says, “if the relationship between father and mother is fragile, and the mother denies access, many teenage fathers lack the resources to fight for the right to be in their child’s life.”

Roberts highlights the work of the academics Charlie Lewis and Michael E Lamb, who since the 1970s “have challenged stereotypical and one-dimensional portrayals of fathers as “deadbeat dads” or “play partners” incapable of the serious business of rearing a child.”

According to Roberts, Professor Lamb argues that “good enough” fathers perform very similar roles to that of “good enough” mothers; they offer love, interest, boundaries and security.”

“For young fathers, however, the barriers to becoming a “good enough” dad are multiple and complex not least because, too often, their own needs aren’t addressed,” says Roberts.

“Many have little or no contact with midwives, health visitors, social workers or the staff of children’s centres. A study for the Department of Work and Pensions published last year describes ‘a cycle of disengagement’. ‘Low self-esteem leads to an inability to find appropriate support both because of a reluctance to seek [it] and a lack of available services. That leads to increased frustration and conflict with the mother’.”

Roberts quotes Chris Facey at the charity Working With Men who says:

“It’s very difficult for many of these young men. They have to sit through meetings with lawyers and social workers. Everyone has a negative perception of their abilities and they have to keep their cool. At risk is the real chance that if they show their frustration, even by an inch, their child may be put up for adoption. It happens. It takes maturity to handle a situation like that.”

Roberts also quotes the American author Mark S Kiselica who said in his book When Boys Become Parents: “For too long our culture has treated boys who become fathers… as detached misfits who are the architects of many of our nation’s problems, rather than seeing these youth for who they really are: young men trying to navigate a complex array of difficult life circumstances that place them at a tremendous disadvantage.”

You can read Yvonne Roberts’ full feature here: Too Young To Be A Dad 

To buy your tickets to the conference today please click here now. 

10 Media Articles About UK Fatherhood

imagesFatherhood is always one of the top topics of conversation and debate at the National Conference for Men and Boys and this year will be not exception.

If you can’t wait until to September to join the debate then here’s a summary of ten conversations about dads that have been taking place in the media in the past month.

And if you haven’t booked you place at this year’s conference why not take action and buy your tickets online today here…

1. One Million Children Growing Up Without Dads

The Centre for Social Justice (the centre right  think tank set up by the former Conservative Party leader Ian Duncan Smith) released a report on fatherhood in the run up to Fathers’ Day. The report warned that a “tsunami” of family breakdown was creating “man deserts” with a million children now growing up without fathers. Responses ranged from Peter Hitchens  in the Daily Mail saying the the “national experiment in fatherlessness” was costing the country £49 billion a year to “Scouse Bird” in The Guardian  saying that fatherless was the result of Liverpool mums not putting up with the stupid, incompetent, gobshite behaviour of dads! The Centre for Social Justice is now shifting its focus to researching some of the barriers dads face to father involvement—they probably won’t be asking “Scouse Bird ” for advice!

2. The Left Needs to Talk About Dads Too

David Lammy continues to be the Labour MP who seems to be  most concerned about fatherhood and while he didn’t endorse the tone of the Centre for Social Justice report he said “at least the right is engaged in this issue…..hen did a left-leaning thinktank last publish a report about fatwhers?” In the past month Lammy has submitted a report on fathers to Labour’s policy review and penned a commentary on fathers in The Guardian and and article on young fathers at Central Lobby.

3. The Media Discriminates Against Dads

Nine out of ten parents claim children’s shows don’t represent real-life dads and three out of ten say the way dads are portrayed in the media is a “subtle form of discrimination” according to a survey by netmums. “The type of jokes aimed at dads would be banned if they were aimed at women, ethnic minorities or religious groups” says Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard.

4. Dads Arent Duds. They Deserve Better

The Observer picked up on the Netmums survey in a positive editorial about dads to mark Fathers’ Day. “The majority of fathers want to spend more time with the family while research tells us the most stressed men are those who work full time and regret not having sufficient hours to ‘father'” said the Sunday newspaper.

5. Fathers 4 Justice Makes an Art of Protest

Fathers 4 Justice has had a colourful month heading to Westminster in June to launch a political petition sponsored by the Respect Party MP George Galloway and subsequently declaring that it was “refusing to deal with the government” after two high profile protests targeted works of art including a portrait of the Queen and Constable’s Haywain. The issue has sparked media debate include commentary by Ally Fogg in The Guardian, Iain Dale at Conservative Home and Glen Poole (part of national conference team) at The Good Men Project.

6. Courts Treat Dads Like Sperm Donors Says Author

The link between art and fathers’ rights was deepened further when the best-selling author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernier—patron of the charity Families Need Fathers—spoke out on Fathers’ Day. He highlighted the “general mythologising of fathers as irrelevant and feckless abusers” and slammed the family courts for treating “fathers heartlessly as mere sperm donors and bankers”.

7.  Gender Neutral Laws Discriminate Against Dads

“Gender neutral laws in a gender biased society, deliver gender biased outcomes” says Karen Woodall at the Centre for Separated Families. “Dads are discriminated against in family separation policy” she said last month, “that is why they are disaffected, disappearing and desperate.  There is nothing more, nothing less to say about it.  In a gender analysis, it is quite simply a fact.  Now we either live with it (and the fatherless society that it creates) or we do something about it.”

8. Children Lack Male Authority Figures Says Gove

The Education Minister, Michael Gove, spoke out about the impact of fatherlessness on children at a Church of England seminar saying “more children are growing up in homes where the male authority figure will be fleeting or absent, where there will be what we now call ‘guesting parents……while it’s very far from being a majority of parents, manifestly, it is a growing and troubling minority and often concentrated in particular areas.”

9. It’s Time For Dads To Pull Their Weight

Gideon Burrows, author of the fatherhood book “Men Can Do It”, probably agrees with Michael Gove that children benefit from involved fathers, though it’s hard to imagine him using a phrase like “male authority figure”. Burrows is an advocate for men and women sharing childcare equally and says in The Guardian article “why men don’t pull their weight” that men only pay lip service to equal parenting.

10. Happy Gay Fathers’ Day

There are thought to be 12,000 same-sex couples raising children in the UK, an increase of 300 per cent since 2010 according to a feature in The Scotsman exploring the lives of gay dads north of the border.

And remember it doesn’t matter if your are of interest is young fathers, separated dads, dads sharing parenting, policy on fatherhood or the experience of gay, bisexual and transgender dads, whatever your interest in fatherhood you are welcome to join us at the The Third National Conference for Men and Boys.

Buy your tickets to the conference online today here