Keeping dads in the picture – parenting is not just for mums!

28 May 2012

Jeremy Davies writes: If ever there was an example of how quick we are to omit fathers from the parenting picture, it’s NHS Health Scotland’s decision to remove the word ‘father’ from its ‘Ready Steady Baby’ pamphlet, as reported in the Daily Telegraph. In this case, a single complaint was all it took!

Of course it beggars belief that a public body could make such a misjudgment – but it also comes as no surprise. Many health and other public authorities routinely engage only with the biological mother and make little or no effort to harness fathers as a resource (and/or risk) in their children’s lives. This is just an explicit example of something that goes on every day, up and down the country.

As well as working directly with mums and dads, we at the Fatherhood Institute work with staff across the NHS and local authorities, and often find ourselves having to persuade individuals that engaging with fathers is even desirable, let alone possible or – let’s go mad for a second – vital, if they are to genuinely do the best they can for children (the people on whose needs they should in fact be focused).

Back in the real world, dads and mums (in which we include, of course, mums who aren’t the biological mother!) know better, and we’re excited that through our Raising Happy Children courses, we can be out there supporting all of them (in whatever combination) to work together on parenting, with both able to function effectively as independent carers and understanding how to communicate as part of a parenting team.

Even if the bureaucrats can’t grasp it, we know that team parenting is what works best – and that if you want a team to work well together, you need to address yourself clearly to all its members! You can rest assured we’ll be challenging NHS Health Scotland about the Ready Steady Go pamphlet, and its accompanying, almost-entirely-dad-free website. Meanwhile, our FREE Raising Happy Children courses start in Camden, Middlesbrough and High Peak in early July. Find out more details and sign up here.


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