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Fathers Jem Thomas Social Science in the City Tart Café Thursday 8 th December 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Fathers Jem Thomas Social Science in the City Tart Café Thursday 8 th December 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fathers Jem Thomas Social Science in the City Tart Café Thursday 8 th December 2011

2 What is it you don’t have……if you don’t have a father?

3 The Politics of Fathering That question has become one of the most intensely political questions of our times.

4 It’s not just on the political right

5 New Labour introduced something like 23 separate bits of legislation that touch on fathers or fathering The Children Act (1989, 2004) The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DH, 2000) The National Service Framework for Children, Young People & Maternity Services (DH/DfES, 2004) Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) Routine postnatal care of women and their babies (NIHCE, 2006) The Equality Act (2006) Maternity Matters (DH, 2007) The Children’s Centre Practice/Planning/Performance Management Guidance (DfES, 2006; 2007) Every Parent Matters (HM Treasury, 2007) Aiming High for Children (HM Treasury/DfES, 2007) Teenage Parenting Strategy & Guidance (DCSF, 2007; 2008) + Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group Annual Report (2008) The Children’s Plan (DCSF, 2007) 2020 Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy (DCSF 2008) The Child Health Promotion Programme Update (DH, 2008) SCIE guidelines for supporting parents (2008) The Welfare Act (2009) The Childcare Strategy (DWP, HM Treasury, DCSF, Cabinet Office, 2009) Healthy lives, brighter futures: the strategy for children and young people’s health (DCSF, DH, 2009) Getting Maternity Services Right for teenage mothers and young fathers DH, DCSF, 2009) Support for All (Green Paper on families) (DCSF, 2010) Teenage Pregnancy Strategy: beyond 2010 (DCSF, DH, 2010) Maternity and Early Years: making a good start to family life (DH, DCSF, 2010) Parenting and Family Support: guidance for Local Authorities in England (DCSF, 2010)

6 The sheer scale of household change in recent times. Away from “tradition”.

7 In the USA around 40% of children will spend some part of their childhood without their fathers - but proportions change strikingly by ethnicity and by class: White28% Hispanic39% Black69%Income > $75,00018% Income $40,001-$75,00028% Income $25,001-$40,00044% Income < $25,00063% Source: DeBell, Social Indicators Research 2008

8 Families with Dependent Children at Home – the UK (Source: Office of National Statistics, 2001 census; 2011 census data not available until 2013) TypeNumber (‘000)% of Total Married parent families4,20058.0 Other families (of which:)3,00042.0 a. Cohabiting parents5006.9 b. Married stepfamilies3805.2 c. Unmarried stepfamilies3104.3 d. Lone mother1,70023.6 e. Lone father1802.5 Total stepfamilies6909.58 Total lone parent families1,88026.1 Stepfamilies + lone mothers2,39033.1


10 A link too with poverty

11 David Cameron on July’s riots, speaking on the 15 th August “Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences. Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control.”

12 Australian journalist Miranda Devine commented, “You only had to see the burning streets of London last week to see the manifestation of a fatherless society. The collapse of family life in Britain has been laid bare, reported to have the highest proportion of single mothers in Europe and nearly half of all children suffering family breakdown by the age of 16. Fatherless families in underprivileged boroughs of London are the norm. “ (Sydney Daily Telegraph)

13 I’m not convinced…(a) The data point to a complex of problems; fatherlessness is just one bit. Poverty, unemployment, alcohol & drugs, educational failure, incarceration……

14 “St Giles’ Rookery”

15 I’m not convinced… (b) 5 or younger6-1011-15Young Adult Mother always was alone 1234 Father has died5678 Parents separated or divorced 9101112 Stepfather present 13141516 Another carer there 17181920

16 “Holding” – the ‘traditional’ view

17 “Dads”

18 Some pioneers of thought about mothering

19 The idea of the “third” The father comes between between mother and child – setting up a new web of relationships…

20 …who leads the child into the wider world

21 So; where does that leave us? Do we need fathers? If so, what for?

22 Emotions around fathering

23 A time to mourn?


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