Fathers Network Scotland is a dynamic, award-winning charity that exists to improve children's lives and outcomes through the positive involvement of dads, father-figures & whole families.
What We Do:
- Dads & Families - we provide information, signposting & support to help give children the best possible start in life.
- Professionals working with families - we champion father-inclusive practice through resources, training, events and community building.
- Employers - we provide expert advice on the needs of dads and families, and support improvements to workplace policy & culture.
- Research - we collect, analyse and communicate evidence that expresses the needs and concerns of dads, families and services.
- Influence - we provide a voice for dads and families in order to positively influence practice, policy and cultural change.
The changing role of dads:
What society expects a dad to be has changed significantly in the last 50 years. In the 1970s many dads weren’t even at their baby’s births and the average working father spent just five minutes per day with their children. Nowadays with increasing diversity and equality throughout society old stereotypes of the male breadwinner and disciplinarian are being cast off by many.
Dads overwhelmingly want more involvement in their children's lives. 98% of dads are present at the birth and millions are fully involved in caring for their children. This change is great news for children, as those with positively involved dads and father-figures are more likely to be smarter, healthier and happier as a result. It also benefits women who rightly expect a good dad to be involved in birth plans, child care and decision-making about children
Although ‘dad’ is normally the biological father, ‘dad’ can also be a ‘social father’. In many cultures around the world the role of father is not necessarily tied to a genetic relationship or to only one man - the often venerated title of ‘dad’ is given to the man who steps up to care, protect and provide for a child. Although our cultural norm is the nuclear family there have always been significant exceptions like adoptive families and step-parents. As our society becomes more liberal and fertility techniques advance, the title of ‘dad’ is even more diverse. It is by doing that men become dads, and make the difference to children.
Government is increasingly realising the importance of positively involved dads and father-figures with policy changing to reflect a whole family approach. Yet old gender stereotypes persist, meaning dads too often remain invisible or ignored when it comes to children and family services, childcare, education and health.
Most workplaces have policies to support employees to manage their work and home life. However, once again outdated gender norms often persist, with the assumption that mum is the principal caregiver, and dad is the principal provider. When fathers want to become more active caregivers and share the load at home they can encounter difficulties accessing family-friendly policies, or fear being penalised as a result.
Fathers Network Scotland’s Role:
Fathers Network Scotland began as a visionary seed project in 2008. By 2016 we were spearheading the Scottish Government sponsored ‘Year of the Dad’. Together with a network of equally passionate partner organisations, by the end of the campaign we had inspired almost 6,000 individuals and well over 1,000 organisations to celebrate the difference a supportive dad can make to improving our children’s lives.
Since then FNS has continued to reach hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland promoting positive father involvement; we have supported tens of thousands of dads and families get the help they need when they need it; we have trained thousands of professionals in father-inclusive practice, we have encouraged employers across Scotland to support shared parenting and we have underpinned all of our activity with a robust evidence base.
We are proud of the impact we have made so far but there is still much to do to achieve our vision of “A safe, compassionate Scotland where children, their families and communities are enriched and strengthened by the full and welcome involvement of dads and father-figures”. Which is why we continue to support dads & families, and an ever growing community of professionals, employers and researchers who share our vision.