I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Family policies 'dad-proofed' to give fathers bigger role - but no extra paternity leave

This is a most interesting development for the UK. They are behind most countries in most areas when it comes to father involvement and many, many countries treat men as not necessary at all - so it isn't saying much about the UK. Nevertheless, if this is implemented its a positive step.MJM
• Minister says services are too 'mother-dominated'
• 'Dads' dialogue' website will mirror mums.net

Ministers have ordered Whitehall to "dad-proof" its family policies, amid concerns that schools, hospitals and other services are preventing fathers from taking a more active role in their children's lives.

Civil servants have been asked to make sure the government is targeting its parenting initiatives at fathers as well as mothers to break the current "mother-domination" of family policy.

Plans already under way include an order to schools to send children's reports to their absent fathers as well as their home addresses, and moves to encourage maternity wards to let fathers spend their child's first night at the hospital instead of being sent home alone.

Campaigners for fatherhood welcomed the plans but were unhappy that the government was still refusing to improve paid paternity leave beyond the current two weeks.

Beverley Hughes, the minister for families, said: "Everything is so mother-dominated in public services and we're trying to change that. The benefits for children of fathers being involved in their early lives are considerable: not just for boys, but there is a particular effect with sons. The relationship with the father is important for a boy's attainment, behaviour and emotional resilience."

She said she wanted to change attitudes because, for some men, the school gate or children's centre could feel as alienating as male-dominated workplaces are for women.

"When we had small children, my husband would sometimes be asked at the healthcentre where the mother was. I hope that level of suspicion is not there now, but fathers tell me there is still some resistance," she said.

Policies being developed include:
• Plans for schools to send children's reports to fathers who live elsewhere.

• A new government-run website for dads to mirror mums.net, the online community for mothers. Its working title is "dads' dialogue".

• The Department of Health is looking at ways hospitals can make it possible for fathers to stay the night after their partner has given birth.

• Activities at children centres will target fathers specifically.

• A dads' version of a baby handbook which has in the past been given to new mothers is being published with the slogan: "Because they don't come with instructions".

• A campaign to get employers to allow more fathers to work flexibly.

• A drive to encourage dads to read to their children.

• Training for all professionals who work with children on how to communicate with dads as well as mums.

• Promoting childcare services to black and minority ethnic fathers.

Evidence shows that today's children are spending increasing amounts of time with their fathers, although mothers still provide the bulk of the childcare.

The last major survey of parents' roles was the Office for National Statistics time use survey in 2001, which found that mothers accounted for more than three-quarters of time spent on childcare activities during the week and two-thirds at weekends. On average, fathers of under-fives spent one hour and 20 minutes a day on childcare activities during the week and two hours and 30 minutes a day at weekends.
Duncan Fisher, founder of the Fatherhood Institute, said: "Fathers' influence on children is crucial to their development, and if you ignore that, you sacrifice a chance to help children.

"The current health and education systems engage with whatever parent turns up. This new plan is to make the effort to talk to both.

"Many fathers feel like the odd one out at the school gate. Fathers are marginalised from the very beginning."
He added that the biggest change the government could make would be to extend paid paternity leave for fathers, who currently qualify for two weeks' paid leave. They can also take up to 13 weeks of unpaid parental leave, but many families cannot afford that option, he said.

"The paternity system is hopeless. We have the biggest deficit between men and women anywhere in the world. That sets the scene for mums to scale down their careers, and fathers to become the breadwinners. It makes a formidable economic force for mothers to leave the workforce. It's hopelessly unfair and it pushes parents apart."

Hughes said that the government was currently challenging an EU regulation which prevents benefits being removed, so that it can replace some paid maternity leave with shared parental leave, allowing mothers and fathers to share paid leave as it suits them. Simply adding extra paid paternity leave was not being considered because of the "financial consequences", she said.