New Research Challenges Young Dad Stereotypes, Showing Their Commitment and Determination to be Good Parents
According to common prejudice, fathers below the age of 25 are inherently ‘risky’, uncaring or irresponsible.
According to common prejudice, fathers below the age of 25 are inherently ‘risky’, uncaring or irresponsible. However, a new research project brings into question popular myths and shows young dads demonstrating their willingness to engage in support services and advocate for policy change on a national level to introduce more father-inclusive practices.
Dads from deprived areas, are being given a platform to connect with each other, discuss how practice and policy could better accommodate them, and directly present their views to senior level professionals and practitioners.
Anna Tarrant, Professor of Sociology at the University of Lincoln, UK, is the Director of Future Leaders Fellowship study, ‘Following Young Fathers Further’ (FYFF). This project, funded by UK Research and Innovation, and linked studies before it, has seen the co-creation of the Young Dads Collective (YDC) in Leeds in 2017 and Grimsby in 2023.
Anna said: “Our engagement with young fathers as ’experts by experience’ in areas like Leeds, Grimsby and the North East, more recently, is proving just how invested young fathers are in supporting their children and their families.
“Challenging the societal narrative of the irresponsible young man, the young fathers that are engaging in our research are advocating for themselves, while also educating professionals about the wider social benefits of father-inclusive practice and societies. This is empowering for young fathers, their families and professionals.”
To date, the YDC has delivered innovative training on how to integrate father-inclusive practices to over 400 professionals, deriving solutions directly from the fathers’ experiences. Some selected young fathers were supported further to participate in national policy discussions at the House of Lords and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood.
A young dad from Leeds said he was: “Buzzing. Love being listened to and it’s not just the work with the professionals. It’s about meeting up with other dads when we do the planning. We all want other dads to have a better experience.”
Anna’s research reveals that young fathers are the most marginalised of parents, with support services including health and social care, statutory and voluntary sectors not typically targeting their demographic. However, following attendance at a YDC workshop, professionals are reportedly gaining an improved understanding of young fathers’ commitments to their children.
In addition to campaigning for policy and practice improvements, the YDC provides young dads with an invaluable platform to connect socially and develop confidence, granting them wider benefits for their citizenship. For example, where none of the fathers were in permanent employment before their involvement in the training, three have now secured paid work and/or training opportunities by being able to evidence their newly acquired skills.
Adam, a participant in FYFF, explained when asked what he gained from the project that: “It’s just experiences, meeting new people, helping new people. You can’t really put a price on it because a lot of dads don’t talk with each other and it’s just a way to get support from other dads, other people that are in a similar situation to yourselves. Who understand what it’s like.”
FYFF are hosting a conference titled Co-creating a father-inclusive society: Innovations in Young Fatherhood Practice and Research on Thursday 7 December at the DoubleTree by Hilton Lincoln from 9am to 4:45pm which is free to attend. Reserve a spot via this link: Innovations in father-inclusive practice and research Tickets, Thu 7 Dec 2023 at 09:00 | Eventbrite
The research was funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and the full article can be accessed here: https://doi.org/10.1332/204674321X16913136250482
For more information about FYFF, follow this link: Following Young Fathers Further