Young working dads need more support

New research into the experiences of younger dads find work is important to them but they are being let down

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Young working dads are being denied the chance to forge a career and need more support.

A new research project from DaddiLife and Leeds Trinity University looked at the experiences of fathers aged under 25.

Work emerged as a key theme. Most of the young fathers wanted to work. They felt strongly that they wanted to be hands on with their family. But they also still adhere to the pressure to be the breadwinner and ‘provide for their family’.

However the report identified issues with the way young dads access work. It found many fall into employment, driven to provide for their family rather than planning a career. That meant many young working dads found themselves in precarious employment, and often unaware of their rights.

Career path

The report authors say, “There is a perception, fuelled by constant negative media coverage that the younger generation coming through are ‘lazy’ and are lacking in skills when it comes to the world of work. Our research highlighted the very opposite of this. All the fathers we spoke to actively wanted to work, and expressed enjoyment at doing so, but with a lack of a clear pathway to work or train – many were ‘falling into jobs’ rather than being able to plan a career path.”

Due to the fact many of these young working dads needed their work they’re susceptible to exploitation and extra pressure. They often work longer hours, or anti social hours in order to keep their job. But that prevents them from being the present dad they want to be for their family.

According to the report, “In cases where the employer was supportive of young fathers’ childcare responsibilities there was an expression of admiration and job pride from the young men, but these insights were few and far between. In many cases, falling into a job meant a lack of balance between family life and work (e.g. working nights, long hours). This issue was exponentially increased for more junior roles, which were typically characterised by lower levels of pay and fewer benefits, alongside a more consistent pressure to perform at work.”

The report also found that young dads generally felt the education system did not prepare them for fatherhood, or for everyday life. Another common theme was that they were not given the same respect by healthcare professionals as older dads expect.

Conclusions and recommendations

The report came up with a number of conclusions and recommendations.

  • Young dads need information on their rights, as both employees and fathers. Too many dads feel pressured into prioritising often fragile work over the needs of family.
  • Similarly, dads need to know their rights when it comes to contact with children, in cases where the relationship with a child’s mother has broken down. A theme from the research is that young dads are often less aware of their rights than older counterparts.
  • Young dads need support. Creating opportunities for young dads to meet and support each other is key. Contact with supportive professionals with real understanding is also crucial.
  • Young dads want practical core skills. They want to know more about parental skills and responsibilities, as well as how to budget and run a household.
  • Young dads want qualifications. But they need career advice relevant to their circumstances, and educational institutions that recognise their multiple responsibilities – as dads, students and – often – part-time workers – and help them to keep all balls in the air.

Extra issues and tensions

Han-Son Lee is Founder of DaddiLife and co-author of the report. He said, Despite the many advances of fathers as a whole over the last few years moving out of the traditional stereotype of being a secondary or lazy parent, New Pathways for Young Fathers has revealed that there are a hidden array of extra issues and tensions for young fathers. My hope is that this research has started to shine a light on the incredible attempts these men are making in re-shaping their lives, ambitions, and day to day experiences around their new fatherly role. It’s vital that we deepen our focus into this group of parents across the whole of the UK.”

You can read the full New Pathways for Young Fathers report here.

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