As the rate of teenage pregnancies increases so does the number of teenage fathers; the exact number is not known as most research in this area is focused on teenage mothers rather than fathers. The Department for Children, Schools and Families is however, committed to making young fathers feel comfortable in their role by offering parenting classes and ensuring they are aware of the help and support available to them. Charities such as Free@Last offer support to fathers of all ages. In addition to this, the Government scheme, New Deal aims to help young people aged between 18 and 24 to find work.
Coupled with a high divorce rate and a lack of stability in the family unit, fathers often have problems getting access to their children; it is estimated that there are currently five times more custodial mothers than custodial fathers. Often the mother of the child automatically gets custody and arranging suitable access can be difficult for fathers, especially when this is arranged on the mother’s terms. For those single fathers who do have custody of their children the same financial support is offered as that offered to single mothers under new Government legislation
Studies by the Institute for the Study of Civil Society show that the influence of a father-figure is significant, with children from fatherless homes more likely to drop out of school, smoke, drink, have behavioural problems and end up in prison than those children coming from homes with fathers. Not having consistent contact with a father does then have considerable consequences for wider society and the future; more children than ever are growing up in lone-parent families, most living solely with their mother. Research has shown a direct link between growing up in a fatherless family and the incidence of crime, low academic achievement and psychological instability, inferring a bleak future for society.
The Changing Role of the Male
In terms of the nuclear family unit, the changing role of the woman is also affecting the role of the male in the family. As increasing numbers of women strive to pursue a career as well as look after children, many men are converting to a more domestic role in the home; there was a reported 58% increase in the number of stay at home dads between 1993 and 2008. Online forums such as ‘Stay at home Dads’ offers advice for fathers, as well as a place to meet and chat with other stay at home dads.