Xmas/New Year is over…

Probably it’s just me but now that the Xmas/New Year thing is over, I’m happy. Actually relieved that’s the whole shebang done for another twelve months. It made me wonder what other dads think and do. We know that the pressure on mothers is significant – expectations to be partner, mother, cook, organiser of a memorable experience, not to mention the cleaning up, but what about the dads? That’s the problem though, there are so many types of dads out there.

There’ll be the ones that are off to the pub after the Xmas dinner, others that are still trying to build the train set or set up the Wii and others doing the washing up. But I suppose that the dads I’m thinking about are those who live separately from their kids. It’s these dads who will feel most acutely the pressures and expectations of Xmas. Contact and custody disputes sharpen and intensify at crucial times such as summer holidays, and Xmas, with all its connotations of happy families, settled children and indulgent fathers, is no different. Xmas can be a time of a couple of hours snatched in Burger King or at a contact centre, a whispered and awkward ‘phone conversation on the day itself or a bare text message, another row - or no communication at all. But maybe I’m being too bleak. As well as the dads who struggle to keep up contact and find ways of ‘delivering the goods’ as well as being on the bread-line, there’ll be others who are looking forward to their children’s graduation (and maybe even helping pay off the loan), have a new baby to dote on and be divvying up the school run responsibilities. There’s all kinds and I promise that the next post won’t be so serious.

On a more social workie-note, last year ended with good news for fathers whose children are in the Children’s Hearing system. Until now the position of unmarried fathers who do not live with their children has been ambiguous within the Hearings system – such fathers were often deemed not to be ‘a relevant person’ and therefore not on the list of people whose attendance at a Hearing was necessary. This has changed after Supreme Court judges ruled: “A parent (or other person) whose family life with the child is at risk in the proceedings must be afforded a proper opportunity to take part in the decision-making process.” The Glasgow Herald went to report one legal eagle, Adam Wagner, as saying that “Scottish courts must now consider unmarried and separated fathers as part of the children’s hearing process and the Scottish Government may have to change the law.”

Gary Clapton