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Family Groups - Fathers - condescending towards fathers?

Lloyd, N., O'Brien, M. & Lewis, C. (2003). Fathers in Sure Start London: National Evaluation of Sure Start, Birkbeck College.
http://www.psych.lancs.ac.uk/people/uploads/CharlieLewis20030929T175009.pdfJoys and woes of fatherhood
Wales, This is Worcestershire, First published on Thursday 19 April 2001:

THE importance of fathers, their changing roles, and their contribution to family life and child rearing is coming more and more to the fore in a number of recent reports, writes Carolyn Morris.

Paternity leave has been increased, men generally are more involved in home life than ever and groups like The National Childbirth Trust have continued the debate with surveys about men's roles in pregnancy, birth and with a new baby.

The National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations says: "Policy makers and service providers are realising that supporting fathers' relationships with their children needs to be a priority."

Earlier this year the county health authority staged a seminar on fathering attended by 75 health professionals, community agencies and voluntary organisations as part of an ongoing Health Improvement Programme called Men's Health in Worcestershire.

One guest was Professor Charlie Lewis from the University of Lancaster who has been studying "How fathers adapt to work and family life" and "How they cope with parenting teenage children."

Assistant director of public health, Alec Kendal, explained: "Over the years the important role of the father in the family has had limited recognition and their lives have many competing influences."

Men still saw themselves as providers, though, he said and when they were unable to provide, some felt inadequate and that's when problems can start. Also at the conference was a representative from national information service Fathers Direct and a Worcester dad Stuart Auger who has developed a web site to bring "Mr Mums" together.

Fathers Direct is a charity, supported by the Department of Health, set up to promote close relationships between fathers and their children. It has a web site where there's a library of information and shared experiences, ideas for games, a working discussion area, a `new dads' area and a chat room. There are news and competitions, celebrity Rant of the Month and Desert Island Dads as well as plenty of information for those not on-line.
Stuart Auger's website, called Dadah, is mainly for at-home dads, or Mr Mums as he calls them - of which he says there are now about 99,000 in the UK. The site contains advice, health, contacts, news, recipes and even washing instructions. He has also formed a playgroup in Worcester specially for dads.

He says: "It can be very isolating being the Mr Mum and although not intended, it can be quite difficult to become involved in the usual toddler groups. Dadah is attempting to raise the profile of the stay-at-home father."

One Mr Mum, Tony Liddington, of Fladbury, explained how being a male child carer can bring up unexpected problems.
Professional session drummer Tony is 40 and gave up a freelance career in the music promotion business to care for two-year-old Ben full time.
His wife is a teacher and it seemed the practical solution for her to continue her more stable career while he put his on hold.
He said his job had meant time away from home and he was ready to give it up in favour of more time with his son and his older daughter, Joanna.
"So I was literally left holding the baby and I had a big book to look at if I got stuck!" he exclaimed. He admitted: "It's harder than I thought it was going to be - keeping the house together, shopping, having the tea on the table and giving Ben time too, especially as he's getting older."

Many an at-home mum will agree but Tony has one or two extra problems associated with being a dad in a world of mums, not least a sense of extra isolation.

"If a mum makes a friend with another mum, they can pop round and see each other," he explained. "Although I'm the sort of person who can mix easily with both sexes, there is the issue that it's not the done thing to go to a woman's house or her come to mine so I don't meet many people in the same situation."

Another big hurdle to overcome for Tony was joining a toddler group. "I really put that off," he said, likening it to a woman going to work for the first time on a building site - although he did find the group very friendly and welcoming.
He added that he was also always aware, needlessly or not, of the air of mistrust surrounding a man looking after children.

However, he stressed: "It would be an experience I would recommend every dad has.
"If I was still working and travelling, I would miss out on knowing Ben as well as I know him now."

l Contact Dadah at www.dadah.co.uk, contact Fathers Direct at www.fathersdirect.com or on 020 7920 9491 or write to the Journal if you're another dad who would like to talk to Tony.

Prof Charlie Lewis' Homepage
Position: Professor
Prof Charlie Lewis
Psychology Department; Fylde College; Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YF
United Kingdom

T. +44 (0)1524 593698
F. +44 (0)1524 593744

psychology@lancaster.ac.uk Phone: 01524 593822
Fax: 01524 593744

email: c.lewis@lancaster.ac.uk

(If you click the above link to make a message, remove the spam protection before sending it.)
Research Interests
• The role of the father in the family
• Life experiences and family relationships
• Preschoolers' understanding of mind
Selected publications
Day, R. D., Lewis, C., O?Brien, M. & Lamb, M. E. (in p). Fatherhood and Father Involvement: Emerging Constructs and Theoretical Orientations. Chapter in V. L. Bengston, A. C. Acock, K. R. Allen, P. dillworth-anderson & D. M. Klein: Sourcebook of Family Theory and Research. Thousand Oaks Ca.: Sage..
Lamb, M. E. & Lewis, C (2004). The Development and Significance of Father-Child Relationships in Two-parent Families Chapter in (pp 272-307) In M. E. Lamb [Ed.] : The Role of the Father in Child Development. [Fourth Edition]. Chichester: Wiley.
Lewis, C. & Lamb, M. E. (2004). Fathers: the research perspective. Chapter in N/A: Supporting Fathers, Contributions from the International Fatherhood Summit 2003 (pp 44-77) . a Bernard van Leer Foundation report, volume 20 in their Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections series..
Lewis, C. & Lamb, M. E (2003). Fathers' influences on children's development. The evidence from two-parent families. European Journal of Psychology of Education., 18, 211-228.

Lloyd, N., O'Brien, M. & Lewis, C. (2003). Fathers in Sure Start London: National Evaluation of Sure Start, Birkbeck College.
Lewis, C., Papacosta, A. & Warin, J. (2002). Lewis, C., Papacosta, A. & Warin, J. Cohabitation, Separation and Fatherhood. York: York Publishing Services .
Korman, M. & Lewis, C. (2001). Mothers' and Fathers' Speech to Infants: Explorations of the Conplexity of Context. Chapter in M. Almgren, A. Barrena, M-J Ezeizabarena, I Idiazabal & B. Macwhinney [Eds] : Research on Child Language.. Somerville, MA: Cascadilia Press..
Langford, W., Lewis, C., Solomon, Y. & Warin, J (2001). Family Understandings: Closeness, authority and independence in families with teenagers. London: Family Policy Study Centre & Joseph Rowntree Foundation. .
Kier, C. Lewis C., & Hay, D (2000). Maternal accounts of the costs and benefits of life experiences after parental separation Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, 16, 191-202. .
Warin, J., Salomon, Y., Lewis, C. & Langford W. (1999). Fathers, work and family life. London Family Policy Study Centre and Joseph Rowntree Foundation..
Lewis, C. & Auxiliadora Dessen, M. (1999). O pai no contexto familiar (Fathers in family life). Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa, 15, 9-16.
Kier, C. & Lewis, C. (1998). Preschool sibling interaction in separated and married families: Are same sex pairs or older sisters more sociable? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39, 191-201.
Lewis, C. (1997). Fathers and Preschoolers. Chapter in M. E. Lamb [ed]: The Role of the Father in Child Development. Chichester: Wiley..
Lewis, C. (1993). Mothers' And Fathers' Roles: Similar or Different? Chapter in European Commission Report: Fathers in Families of Tomorrow.. Copenhagen: Danish Ministry of Social Affairs.
Lewis C. (1986). Becoming a Father Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Selected grants
• 1999 (for one year) Joseph Rowntree Foundation .
Understanding families: Closeness and independence in mothers, fathers, and 11 to 16-year-olds.
• 1998 (for one year) Joseph Rowntree Foundation .
Breakdown in cohabiting relationships: families' negotiations with non-resident parents.
• 1996 (for three years) Joseph Rowntree Foundation .
Fathers, work and family life in a Punjabi British sample
With R. Penn & Y. Solomon.
• 1995 (for three years) Joseph Rowntree Foundation .
Fathers, work and family life.
With R. Penn & Y. Solomon.

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