One in four families suffers the ‘dad gap’ – those missing out on dads’ involvement at home – according to a new poll released this week by the Fatherhood Institute which reports that Britain has some of the worst paternity rights in Europe.
The poll of 1,000 parents reveals that an overwhelming majority of mothers and fathers want to share changing nappies, reading with their kids and taking their children to doctors or dentists appointments, with significant numbers wanting longer and better paid paternity leave and more flexible working for dads.
The survey shows that despite substantial sharing taking place in many families, nearly a quarter of all families are unable to share key aspects of parenting. It reveals:
Ã‚Â· 80% of parents believe that changing nappies is a shared responsibility – but only 58% of families manage to share the task pretty much equally
Ã‚Â· 86% of parents think reading with their children should be shared equally – but only 59% manage this
Ã‚Â· Three quarters (74%) of parents believe taking their children to dentists and doctors appointments should be shared equally – but in reality only 52% of families manage to share arrangements to this extent
The Fatherhood Institute, who today publish their Six Signposts for Fatherhood setting out what the Parties need to do to help fathers do best for their families, says that there are real barriers stopping parents taking on the shared roles they desire.
The poll suggests:
Ã‚Â· 84% of parents think fathers should get more paternity leave in the first year after their baby’s birth
Ã‚Â· 85% say paternity leave should be paid at 90% of salary
Ã‚Â· 79% say new fathers should get more information on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and caring for a baby
Ã‚Â· 80% of parents want dads to be able to work flexibly so they can care for their children
In addition, the gender-wage-gap which is particularly marked among middle and higher earners, means that men’s greater earnings or prospects trap them in the breadwinning role – and mothers in the caring role.
Rob Williams, Chief Executive of the Fatherhood Institute, said:
“In thirty years huge changes have taken place with far more women now at work and many more men involved in childcare. And it is encouraging that despite men’s positioning as main breadwinners in so many households, in three quarters of families surveyed, a substantial amount of sharing is taking place.
“But our system of parental leave is still stuck in the 1970’s. Men and women want to choose how to balance work and childcare but the current system prevents them from doing so.
“Parents – both mothers and fathers – say very clearly that policy needs to catch up with reality. Dads need more leave when their baby is born, better paid paternity leave – and the chance to work more flexibly: men’s requests for flexible working are still turned down more often than women’s by employers and Tribunals.”
With 64% of parents saying dads today are expected to be more involved in their children’s upbringing than their own fathers were, the poll reveals that today’s fathers want to be far different from the previous generation. It reveals:
Ã‚Â· 52% men saying they wish their father had spent more time with them when they were growing up
Ã‚Â· 37% of fathers trying to be closer to their child than their fathers were to them
Ã‚Â· 35% saying they feel their father had little influence or no positive influence on their upbringing
Respondents were also asked to predict how their own fathers would have answered questions on parenting roles. The results show a dramatic shift in attitudes towards fatherhood, revealing that more than half of respondents felt that their own fathers would have regarded childcare tasks – including changing nappies, choosing childcare, taking children to the doctor or dentist and understanding children’s nutritional needs – as predominately the mother’s job.
The Fatherhood Institute’s Six Signposts for Fatherhood are:
1. Fathers should get more leave when their baby is born
2. Paternity leave should be paid at 90% of salary
3. New fathers should get more information
4. More fathers should be able to work flexibly
5. Services should include fathers
6. Fathers who do not live with their children should be supported to stay connected.
Rob Williams added:
“If we don’t get the next phase of family policy right it will continue to create stress at home and limit parents’ ability to earn and care properly – damaging family life as well as the economy.”