Bounty packs for new mums to include material for dads

19 January 2010

Fatherhood Institute guide for dads will feature in Bounty Packs, as Institute hails decade of ‘major shift’ in public attitudes towards fatherhood

Government-funded materials to bring fathers up to speed on the importance of their role will now be put into men’s hands on maternity wards – marking a significant change in public attitudes towards fatherhood, according to leading think-tank the Fatherhood Institute.

For more than 50 years, in the struggle to do the best by Britain’s babies, important information and advice has been provided to all new mothers via the NHS – but none targeted at dads.

The Guide for New Dads, produced by the Fatherhood Institute, will be included in Bounty packs – the packs of information, advice and samples of baby care products given to mums at the birth of their children. The move comes amidst mounting evidence that both mums and dads would welcome new dads having more information about parenting.

With research showing that when fathers do more at home, both parents tend to be happier, the Guide includes tips on how parents can work together as a team, as well as information promoting family health and effective ways of juggling parenting and breadwinning. The Guide also challenges a number of myths around fatherhood, including ‘men are insensitive with babies’ and ‘mums are naturally better at caring for children’.

Rob Williams, Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said:

“The inclusion of government-funded materials specifically aimed at dads is a huge breakthrough and reflects a major shift in public attitudes towards fatherhood in the last decade. Traditional gendered roles of mother as carer and father as breadwinner are dissolving; meaning a generation of families is developing where both mum and dad play an active role in childcare.

“Over the last 30 years, fathers’ involvement with their children has increased massively. There’s also been a rapid rise in fathers’ dissatisfaction with the amount of time they’re able to spend with their children – and a notable increase in the availability and take-up of flexible working by fathers.”

Figures support the claim that attitudes are shifting and dads are now more involved than ever in their children’s lives – and want to be:

• 82% of full-time working dads say they don’t get to spend enough time with their family; this is 12% more than 20 years ago and is the highest percentage ever recorded
• 93% of fathers who live with the mothers of their children attend the birth
• 65% of younger mums want dads to be more involved with the children than they are now, with 71% wishing their partner had had longer paternity leave
• 48% of dads attend ante-natal classes (many more would attend if places were available) and 86% attend at least one scan
• 93% now sign their babies’ birth certificates
• the average time spent by fathers of young children on childcare has increased eight-fold since the 1970s.

Leo West, a new dad from Brentwood said:

“After my child was born, I found that most professionals were very engaging of my partner. I think this was because the literature available was geared towards mums; I looked for information directed at dads which at the time seemed very vague. Not much of this literature gave me sound advice how to do best by my partner and new baby. The introduction of this new pack is the first real step in enabling and empowering dads to be able to support their families. Having something like this guide would have been fantastic.”

Adrienne Burgess, Head of Research at the Fatherhood Institute said:

“We know that fathers want to be more involved and that mothers and babies do well when they are. Now we need to match that aspiration with practical support. Not only does this Guide contain important information that dads are unlikely to see anywhere else, but the fact that it is to be given out to every new father is an effective way of signaling his value – of saying ‘this isn’t just about mums – dads really matter’.

“A close father-child relationship in childhood and adolescence is one of the best protective factors against teenagers’ drug and alcohol misuse, educational failure, gang membership and teenage pregnancy. It’s crucial that this is recognised and the father-child relationship supported right from the start of every child’s life.”

Ends.

Notes to editors

For more information and interviews with Rob Williams and Adrienne Burgess from the Fatherhood Institute, or a case study, contact Melissa Milner 020 7793 4035 / 07976 636 228

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, will announce the inclusion of materials of dads in Bounty Packs at the ‘Engaging Fathers in Preparation for Parenthood – A Summit by Secretaries of State ‘ at Victoria Park Plaza, London on Thursday, 21 January 2010.

More than 600,000 copies of ‘Guide for New Dads’ will be included in the Bounty packs from March.

• Read the Fatherhood Institute’s new briefing ‘Fathers and family health in the perinatal period‘.

Download the Fatherhood Institute’s Dad Test – a tool to help services assess how father-inclusive they really are.

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