Fatherhood Institute guide to go to all new fathers from March

18 January 2010

A Fatherhood Institute guide is to be handed to all fathers of newborn babies in maternity units, as of next month.

The Guide for New Dads will be included in Bounty packs – the packs of information, advice and samples of baby care products given to parents at the birth of their children.

Traditionally information given around the time of birth is aimed at mothers, so the Government’s funding of materials to bring fathers up to speed on the importance of their role marks a significant change in public attitudes towards fatherhood. The move comes amidst mounting evidence that both mums and dads would welcome new dads having more information about parenting.

Mums and dads working as a team

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.”

Fathers want to be more involved

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.”

Media coverage of the Guide

To read some examples of national media coverage about the Guide for New Dads, click on the links below:

BBC News



Daily Mail

Sunday Telegraph



Children and Young People Now

Our new briefing: Fathers and family health in the perinatal period

To find out why engaging early with fathers is so important read our latest briefing.

What do you think about the Guide for New Dads’ inclusion in Bounty packs? Share your opinions by posting a comment on GMTV’s website.