21st Century Dad Facts


Research from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the UK  reveals that 53% of fathers and 52% of mothers with children under 1 year old say dads spend too little time with their children.

The same research shows that dads are twice as likely as mums to feel that they spend too little time with their children.

Meanwhile, a new report called Work Life Balance: Working For Fathers? report by the charity Working Families and Dr Caroline Gatrell at Lancaster University supports the theory that being the main breadwinner is no fun for men with 82% of fathers saying they want to spend more time with their families.

Take up of paternity leave is growing, and more than half (55 per cent) of fathers have taken it according to YouGov/Demos survey. Of those who haven’t, 88 per cent would have liked to. Nearly half (49 per cent) could not afford to, and 19 per cent were either too busy or felt their employer would not be happy if they took it.

According to polling carried out by NOP for the think tank Demos women say they are 15 times more likely to take the day off work than their partner if their child was sick. 44 percent of mothers said they would take the day off work if their child was unexpectedly ill and couldn’t go to school, but only 3 percent said that their husband or male partner would take the day off work in these circumstances.

Children living apart from their dads in lone parent families are twice as likely to live in poverty than children living with both parents –  though the risk of poverty is reduced seven-to-eight-fold when mum is working full time.

There is a widespread failure of services to engage with of non-resident fathers – for example 31% of the non-resident fathers who have contact with their children go into their schools, compared with 75% of fathers who live at home (Nord et al, 1998) – and this  may be contributing to school failure in this group. However, it would be wrong to assume that non-resident fathers are unwilling. A UK survey (Peters et al, 2008) found 70% of two-parent-family fathers and 81% of non-resident parents (mainly men) wanting to be more involved in their children’s education. School processes that fail to include non-resident fathers and staff anxieties may be key (Burgess, 2009; McBride et al, 2000; Lloyd, 1999; Fletcher, 1997).

There are an estimated 1.9 million lone parents in Britain today caring for 3.1 million children. Lone parents now make-up a quarter of all families and the United Kingdom (UK) has proportionately more lone parents than most Organisations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The median age for a lone parent is 36 and two per cent of lone mothers are teenagers. Thirteen per cent of lone parents come from black or minority ethnic communities. Around ten per cent of lone parents are fathers (One Parent Families, 2008)

The Fatherhood Institutes Family Fairness Index states 14% of children live with their mother only, compared with only 2% of children in father-only households and that that non residence with a child is the single greatest predictor of low father or mother involvement.

Around 15% of fathers are not living with partner when their child is born (Kiernan, K. (2003) Unmarried parenthood: new insights from the Millennium Cohort Study. Population Trends)

This report states that 15% of babies had mothers who were not living with a partner when they were born. 0f these 4% had mothers who were not in any relationship. For 7% of babies their parents were “closely involved”, 2% were “just friends” and 1% were separated or divorced .

An Equal Opportunities Commission survey in 2007 showed that mothers recorded an average of 2 hours 32 minutes per day looking after their own children, compared with 2 hours 16 minutes by fathers – so that’s just about 50:50 (though women still do more housework while men still do more paid work – and these are shared fairly according to research by Dr Hakim at the London School of Economics)

One of the most stark figures is that while dads share parenting fairly equally when couples are together only 11% share parenting when couples separate (compared with around 33% in Sweden) – this is the family fairness index again.

According to the DWP what happens then is around a third (33%) of children have contact with their non-resident parent at least once a week, a third (35%) see dad less than once a week and a third (32%) have no contact at all.

Interestingly, children in lone parent families and nearly twice as likely to see their real dad regularly than children in step families seeing their non-resident parent on a more regular basis than re-partnered couple families (35% on a weekly basis compared to 18%), although the proportions that never saw their non-resident parent were similar (32% against 30% respectively).

In 2010 Harry Benson, of the Bristol Community Family Trust, undertook analysis of cenusus data  using census data and found that 60 per cent of families remain intact until their children are 15 – 97 per cent are married. (though remember many will have got married as a result of having children and staying together – not the other way around)

To be continued……………


Glen Poole is UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, Director at the consultancy Helping Men and news editor of insideMAN magazine. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at www.helpingmen.co.uk.

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4 comments on “21st Century Dad Facts
  1. This made interesting reading for me, given that my husband and I are on the brink of a role swap – I am going back to work full time, and he is going to be a stay at home Dad. The response we have had seems to back up the fact that Dad’s do seem to want more time with their children. Many Dad’s have said they wished they could do it, but can’t as either their partner could not earn enough OR was unwilling to make the swap. We expected most men to say “I could never do that” but not one has said that (within our earshot anyway). I really think that children do need both parents in their life and anything that gets that message out there is a good thing. Keep up the good work!

  2. glenpoole says:

    Thanks mummybreadwinner and good luck to both of you – I was the housedad in the first 2/3 years of my daughter’s life (she is 13 now) and first it was an absolute privilege to have all that time with her and second it completely opened my eyes to how gendered and sexist our society is in it’s expectation of the roles that mums and dads “should” play – and yet those collective societal expectations are completely out of touch with what most individual mums and dads want – attitudes have shifted but the fact that we still don’t have basic parental leave legislation that allows mums and dads to chose which parent should get the leave tells you how far we have to go if we want our own children’s generation – to have an equal range of life choices around parenting, career, life work balance etc – thanks for posting and the very best of luck to you and your family

  3. […] Dads are certainly BIG NEWS at the moment with the Coalition Government’s announcement that it plans to reform the  “mad” parental leave system giving dads more rights which prompted The Men’s Network to post this rough and dirty list of very interesting 21st century dads facts that you should CLICK AND READ NOW! […]

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