‘Dads just as good as me’, say 7 out of 10 mums

2 January 2008



Children missing a month a year with their dad, warns Fatherhood Institute

7 out of 10 mums (68%) believe dads are as skilled at parenting as they are, yet the father role is seen as still secondary by much of society, according to new ICM research launched by the Fatherhood Institute today.

The new institute says involving fathers has a major impact on child welfare yet they spend on average a month less with their children than mums every year, mainly because of unsocial hours and inflexible working. It is calling for a shake up of parental leave, all family professionals such as midwives and teachers to actively involve fathers, and more done to ensure dads sign birth certificates, in line with international best practice.

Reading at school with their children and staying overnight during hospital births are two of the Institute’s new proposals to boost dads’ involvement with kids. These proposals are backed by 71% and 79% of mums respectively. Seven out of ten of all respondents say there should be a zero tolerance approach when dads don’t take on their parenting responsibilities.

Both men and women believe the biggest positive impact of a dad’s involvement is on a child’s behavioural problems, self esteem and school work, according to the poll. This is backed by independent evidence cited in The Difference a Dad Makes, launched alongside the survey findings.

More than 1000 people – as well as an additional sample of dads and mums – were surveyed over the last month. The findings state that:

• 68% of mums say that dad is just as good at looking after the kids as them
• 95% of men and women say it is important for dads to spend time caring for children during their first two years
• 67% of women and 72% of men say society values a child’s relationship with mother more than father
• 6 out of 10 (59%) people say that society assumes mothers are good for children, but fathers have to prove it
• Two-thirds (66%) of fathers regret not having more time to spend with their children
• 70% of people say there should be ‘zero tolerance’ if fathers do not take on their parenting responsibilities.

Duncan Fisher, Director of The Fatherhood Institute, said today:

“Most mums have confidence in dads – and they want them to play a bigger role. People’s instincts about parenting back up what research has been telling us.

"It’s clear that parental leave and services do not meet the needs of the modern family. Government and policy makers need to catch up with reality because involving dads has a huge impact on a child’s wellbeing and life chances.”

The Fatherhood Institute, in a new report The Difference a Dad Makes, launched alongside the research, has today called for six goals for policymakers as a first step to enabling greater positive involvement of dads:

• Shake up the parental leave system so fathers can spend more time with kids under two years-old
• 25,000 more dads per year to sign their child’s birth certificate, to reach international standards and halve the number of those who don’t
• Dads able to stay overnight in hospital with their partner when their baby is born
• Modern and relevant antenatal education for both parents
• Dads reading with their children in all primary schools
• Family professionals – midwives, teachers, health visitors, nursery workers, social workers – confidently engaging with dads as well as mums, and supporting all family types.


For more information, a copy of the research summary and the new report The Difference a Dad Makes, contact:

Victoria Shooter – 020 7793 4036 victoria@dhacommunications.co.uk  
Melissa Milner – 020 7793 4035 melissa@dhacommunications.co.uk  

Notes to editors:
• The Fatherhood Institute is the UK’s fatherhood think tank. The Institute (charity reg. no.1075104): collates and publishes international research on fathers, fatherhood and different approaches to engaging with fathers; helps shape national and local policies to ensure a father-inclusive approach to family policy; injects research evidence on fathers and fatherhood into national debates about parenting and parental roles; lobbies for changes in law, policy and practice to dismantle barriers to fathers’ care of infants and children; is the UK’s leading provider of training, consultancy and publications on father-inclusive practice, for public and third sector agencies and employers. The Institute’s vision is for a society that gives all children a strong and positive relationship with their father and any father-figures; supports both mothers and fathers as earners and carers; and prepares boys and girls for a future shared role in caring for children. Through a separate partly-owned company, DAD, the Institute provides information directly to fathers and their families, while raising funds to ensure appropriate information is delivered to fathers in the most excluded groups.
• ICM interviewed a random sample of 1324 adults aged 18+ (including 593 parents), by telephone between 7 and 13 December 2007. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk