Across the world, most family interventions and services, whether they’re focused on health, parenting, education or any other aspect of family life, are aimed at mothers – with dads, at best, an afterthought.
But a strong and growing body of research suggests that if you’re serious about improving outcomes for children – and for women too – you need to get fathers on board as well.
Take early education as an example. Did you know that five-year-olds with two supportive parents score higher on language development than those with one or none? Or that 1- to 2-year-olds whose fathers read frequently to them, are more likely to be interested in books later in life? Or that children’s ‘school readiness’ is associated with high levels of fathers’, as well as mothers’, sensitivity?
Are dads being welcomed in?
The Fatherhood Institute’s free new factsheet, Making the most of fathers to support children’s early learning, launched on International Men’s Day, outlines key ways, like these, in which dads really matter. It’s essential reading if your job involves supporting children’s early learning and development.
Now it’s true that dads may sometimes not seem to be queuing up for support from family services. But contrary to popular belief, most of the time this isn’t because fathers lack interest in their children’s progress. Often they won’t even know a service exists; they may feel (justifiably?) that it’s not really aimed at them; they may believe that mums are the only ones who really matter; and they may have never explicitly been invited.
To help get beyond such obstacles, the other resources in the ‘Bringing Fathers In’ #bringingfathersin series include top tips on how to engage dads and the biggest mistakes to avoid; great ideas on ‘messaging’ for anyone advocating for more father-inclusive services; and advice on how to design and evaluate services with fathers in mind.
To find out more about the resources, including ten research summaries that support the series, visit the #bringingfathersin page of the Fatherhood Institute website here
This blog was produced by the Fatherhood Institute.
- ‘Dangerous, feckless and disinterested’ — former social worker on how stereotypes about dads put families at risk
- Parenting programmes exclude dads, says fatherhood charity
- We need to unlock dads’ potential to help kids read
- What’s it like for dads who experience the loss of a child through miscarriage?