The marginalisation of fathers in society and presumption that ‘parent’ means mother, has been challenged by the Equal Opportunities Committee in its report on Fathers and Parenting published today.
The Fathers and Parenting report explodes the myth that parenting is solely a mother’s job and highlights evidence from a wide range of fathers from different backgrounds right across Scotland who believe their involvement in childrearing should be the norm.
In order to address this issue at the very outset, the Committee urges NHS Scotland to work with local health boards and local authorities to ensure that new fathers can access pre and post-birth classes and support networks.
While the Committee commends the Scottish Government for taking steps to address the lack of imagery of fathers in its literature and guidance, it also believes more could be done by the Government and all organisations working with parents and children to actively include fathers.
Equal Opportunities Committee Convener Margaret McCulloch MSP said:
“We heard from so many fathers who wanted to take an active part in their children’s lives but who felt marginalised by society right at the start of their role in being discouraged from attending pre and post-natal classes and support groups. Yet, we know that by engaging fathers early, they stay involved with their child, even if the parents separate.
“Equally, we were not surprised to hear that the same childcare and flexible working issues keeping women from actively participating in the workplace, also keep fathers from parenting. We are concerned by this imbalance in parental leave and access to flexible working for fathers. These issues must be addressed if we are to improve outcomes for children and parents right across Scotland.”
The Committee report made further recommendations including asking the Scottish Government to:
- Issue good-practice guidance on including new fathers in written publications and policies that are not perceived by fathers as tokenistic.
- Support the set-up of new groups and help existing groups to grow and help single fathers and fathers in rural areas.
- Continue to present men as a crucial part of the family and support the extension of successful initiatives such as the approach taken by South Lanarkshire Council and West Lothian Council.
- Consider a national awareness-raising campaign to help raise the profile of men in childcare and teaching.