Public services are causing Fatherlessness says charity boss

Public services are helping to cause fatherlessness in the UK according to the CEO of the Fatherhood Institute and former Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England.

According to Rob Williams – who will be a key speaker at the First National Conference for Men and Boys to be hosted in Brighton & Hove in November (click here details), public services are fostering a culture of fatherlessness in the UK by failing to engage with fathers.

He said:

David Cameron has identified fatherlessness as one root cause of the riots in August. He’s got a point – children who do not get support from their fathers are much more likely to get into trouble with the law in their teenage years and to misuse drugs and alcohol.

Public services communicate almost exclusively with mothers. They don’t even ask about the dads, let alone see it as their role to engage with him. We treat children as if they only have one parent thus fostering the very culture of fatherlessness we claim to abhor.

Who challenges GPs, schools, children’s centres and other family support services to have more than the mothers’ details on their registration forms? Nobody.

With the notable exception of the Child Support Agency, no publicly funded service will ever suggest to [separated fathers] that they have something to offer their children – in the CSA’s case, of course, that something being money. No-one asks fathers to stay involved. Quite the opposite – fathers are often the last people services look to when seeking to support a child.

Right now politicians might find it convenient to blame ‘fatherless’ families for social unrest but unless they change the system that pushes fathers away, it won’t be long before Ministers need to start pointing the finger at themselves.

To read Rob’s full statement on fatherlessness visit the Fatherhood Institute blog by clicking here.


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

Posted in NEWS
3 comments on “Public services are causing Fatherlessness says charity boss
  1. Nick Woodall says:

    I think the critical phrase in Rob’s article is ‘at the time of separation most men fully intend to play their part as a non-resident parent.’ I believe that this shows a lack of appreciation of the issues that fathers face when families separate and a failure to understand the policy framework in which fathers are attempting to maintain meaningful relationships with their children.

    I think the first question that I would ask Rob is, what is a ‘non resident parent’, how do you become one, and what happens to fathers who are labelled as such? In my many years of experience, men don’t want to play their part a ‘non-resident parents’; they just want to remain as ‘dad’.

    It is the point at which we divide parents into ‘parent with care’ and ‘non resident parent’ that is the point at which we begin the support of one and the vilification of the other. Located in these labels, and the status that they confer, is the very essence of the discrimination that (mostly) fathers face after separation.

    I’m surprised that the Fatherhood Institute who has promoted equal parenting, both before and after separation, should now wish to consign fathers to the role of ‘non resident (read ‘second class’) parent’.

    The status ‘non resident parent’ is one that is conferred on fathers – it is not one that they choose – and it leads to a lifetime of being judged, mistrusted, vilified and discriminated against. It is the opposite of ‘single parent’.

    It is the very status of ‘non resident parent’ and the policies that lie behind it that so often is the cause of fathers being excluded from their children’s lives. As long as we continue to allow this to remain the case, we will continue a situation where one parent is supported and the other is dismissed – the terminology and the discrimination go hand in hand.

    At the Centre for Separated Families, we have spent more than a decade trying to change legislation, policy and practice in order that parents are not given the status of good and bad parent and so that dads can continue to be dads without being told how they may be allowed to do that.

    Nick Woodall
    The Centre for Separated Families

    • glenpoole says:

      Thanks for that Nick as a separated dad with shared residence I heartily agree that no dad wants the label ‘non-resident parent’ – they just want to be ‘dad’ and be recognized, respected and supported in that role – Regards – Glen PS: Do you know if you guys will be at the conference to join in the debate on 1st November?

  2. Nick Woodall says:

    Thanks, Glen. We’re certainly doing everything we can to be there. Hope to see you soon!

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