Time with Dad

Time with Dad is our campaign to improve support for fathers. Let’s give men the help they need to care for and spend time with their children – and to play their part in supporting their health, learning and development.

Sign up here.

We launched the campaign in summer 2021, inspired by our longstanding commitment to building a society that supports men as actively involved, caring fathers – and new evidence from the Covid-19 lockdowns about the positive benefits that flowed from the extra time dads spent with their children (check out the video for our Nuffield Foundation-funded study, Lockdown Fathers: The untold story), and the negative effects of excluding men from services that help families when children arrive.

Time with Dad offers a space for you to get involved in research, advocacy and campaign actions focused on three key areas where change is needed:

  • FAMILY SERVICES: We need maternity, health visiting and other family services to routinely and systematically support fathers’ close attachment to their babies, and involve them in supporting their children’s health and development.
  • WORK: We need employers to recognise and support men’s fatherhood – through well-paid and substantial leave in their baby’s first year, and access to flexible and home-based working options wherever possible.
  • EDUCATION: We need schools, early years and other family services to routinely and systematically engage and support fathers to help their children learn and develop.

We know that to achieve change in all these areas, we need new approaches from the ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’. With that in mind, we’re lobbying for national-level changes in policy and practice, and working with fathers, mothers, employers, trade unions, schools, early years providers and others to explore new ideas, form powerful partnerships and trial interesting, scaleable approaches.

Here are some examples of the work we’re doing – and how you can get involved:

FAMILY SERVICES

Becoming Dad. There’s a lack of well-written, evidence-based information designed to recognise fathers’ importance, and help men navigate their personal journeys into fatherhood. We wrote Becoming Dad in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, to help men make sense of what’s happening to them; look after themselves and the others around them; and do the best possible job of becoming a confident father. As of 19 November 2021 (International Men’s Day), the guide is available for free to dads and the family practitioners who support them.

Sign up to receive the Becoming Dad report, via this link http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/2021/becoming-dad/.

If you think it’s a useful resource, please help us spread the word about it, by sharing the link with other expectant fathers, your GP, midwife, health visitor or other professional. Maybe you could share it on your social media? Here’s a sample tweet you could use.

Fatherhood is a huge journey, and men need a map. Here’s one I’ve found useful – and it’s free http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/2021/becoming-dad/ #timewithdad.

We offer training and other support to a range of family professionals, including midwives, health visitors and staff from Family Hubs, to help them understand how much fathers matter, and devise the best strategies for engaging with and supporting them. Our new brochure provides more detail on the many courses we offer – including training for professionals to run Becoming Dad sessions for expectant fathers, and the highly evaluated Family Foundations programme for parent-couples.

We’re also developing a ‘Dad Hub’, to bring fathers, mothers and maternity professionals together to think about how best to build a more father-inclusive service. This feels especially important after fathers were routinely shut out during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Maybe you had a baby during lockdown, or are a midwife, doula or other maternity practitioner, and want to have your say. To register your interest as a possible Dad Hub participant, please email Jeremy at j.davies (at) fatherhoodinstitute.org, who will keep you on a list and get in touch.

WORK

We want to make flexible working the default position for all jobs, putting the onus on employers to state in job adverts what flexibility they can offer – and explain their reasons in fair detail when they can’t. Most parents want this, and many can’t work unless flexible working options are made available to them.

We are part of the ‘Flex for All’ campaign, alongside the TUC, Pregnant Then Screwed, Mother Pukka and Young Women’s Trust. As part of this campaign, we are asking dads to make their voice heard in a government consultation that’s happening now (it finishes on 1 December – see more details below).

The government promised to make flexible working the default for all employees from Day 1 of their employment. Instead, they’re consulting on making the right to request flexible working a Day 1 right. That’s not the same thing at all; and is nowhere near as good for staff.

At the moment, half of flexible working requests are turned down (often without a clear, justifiable reason) – and even just asking to work flexibly can lead to discrimination.

Making employees ask for flexible working places them in a vulnerable position, because their employer may not take the issue of flexible working seriously – so by the time they’ve asked the question (whether it’s on Day 1 or at a later point), the damage is done.

The right to request flexible working has existed for all employees since 2014. But flexible working still tends to be thought of – if at all – as an adaptation for working mothers, and it is certainly not widely promoted as an option for fathers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, research suggests dads are less likely than mums to ask to work flexibly. And if they do ask, they are more likely to have their request rejected.

It’s not that dads don’t want to work flexibly – our Lockdown Fathers study found that 76% of dads who were at home full-time during the spring 2020 lockdown, wanted more flexible working options post-pandemic, for example. A 2019 survey by the Working Dads and Working Mums websites found that 70% of working dads felt stuck in their job because of concerns they wouldn’t find another one with the right flexibility. This suggests that even if you can achieve a level of flexibility you’re comfortable with, it can still feel difficult to have the conversations necessary to replicate that elsewhere. Also, a fifth of those who did work flexibly, said they felt discriminated against by their employer; and 10% of dads said they had even quit a job after having a flexible working request turned down.

Push for a better deal on flexible working

Please help us make sure dads’ voices are heard in the government’s consultation. Here’s a link to a survey we’ve created with the TUC and other Flex for All partners, to make it easier for you to do this. Just fill in the online form to feed in your views and experiences.

If you’d like to hear more about the Flex for All campaign and why this consultation matters, join us for this online event at 7pm on 22 November: https://actionnetwork.org/events/flex-for-all-organising-call/

Commission a webinar

We offer presentations, webinars and other forms of support for employers and workplace parent networks. Find out more http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/2018/workplace-seminars/

Join our parenting leave consultation

Early in 2022 we will be publishing our proposals for a new, fairer and father-inclusive approach to parenting leave. We will notify all our Time with Dad supporters when we publish this, and invite you to contribute to our consultation about it – so if you haven’t already, join our database now.

‘Gig work’ dad?

We want to find out more about how fathers who work in the ‘gig economy’, are juggling their work and caregiving commitments. Recent research published by the TUC suggests that men now make up more than two-thirds of so-called ‘platform workers’ (68% in 2021, up from 49% in 2016). They are also most likely to be in the 25-44 age group – coinciding with the peak period for becoming fathers. Are you a dad who works for Uber, Deliveroo or another platform? If so, we’d love to pick your brains. Email Jeremy at j.davies (at) fatherhoodinstitute.org.

EDUCATION

We train schools and early years education providers to offer Fathers Reading Every Day, a simple ‘reading for pleasure’ programme for dads and their children.

We are also co-investigators on the PIECE (Paternal Involvement and its Effects on Children’s Education) study, alongside Dr Helen Norman, senior research fellow at Leeds Business School. As part of this work we will be inviting mothers and fathers to share their experiences of supporting their children’s early learning, via a survey and online events – and we’ll be producing resources to help parents and schools work more effectively together.

If you’re part of a two-parent household with a child or children under 12, we’d love you to be part of our PIECE survey, coming out before Christmas 2021. It’s not quite ready yet, but email Jeremy at j.davies (at) fatherhoodinstitute.org, and he’ll send you the link once it is.

Press coverage and events

Watch our recent BritainThinks webinar, Transforming workplaces, transforming families.

Listen to our ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ podcast with Ed Miliband, Geoff Lloyd and the Prime Minister of Iceland.

Read this Sunday Telegraph feature for Father’s Day 2021.

This article in The Conversation, summarising research by a team at the University of Essex, draws on our Lockdown Fathers study to outline the importance of the time fathers spend with their children, and their confidence as caregivers.

In this piece in Grazia, our fellow flexible working campaigner Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka set out why we need to stop talking about flexible working as a female problem.