Scotland says “Parent means father and mother”

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May Scotland show England and the rest of the UK how to treat fathers.

A very interesting report about fatherhood has been produced by the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Known as the Fathers and Parenting Report, the study was carried out by the Equal Opportunities Committee and has concluded that dads don’t get a great deal.

It remains to be seen whether the report will actually achieve anything, but it made some pretty hard-hitting observations. For instance, it noted that men have problems requesting flexible working and said more could be done to improve fathers’ access to both pre-birth and post-birth classes and support networks. I imagine the majority of fathers, be they Scots or otherwise, will read that last statement and say “what support networks?”

The committee’s convener (I love the titles they use North of the border) is Labour MSP Margaret McCulloch. McCulloch summarised the report thus:

“We heard from so many fathers who wanted to take an active part in their children’s lives but who felt marginalised by society right at the start of their role in being discouraged from attending pre and post-natal classes and support groups. Yet, we know that by engaging fathers early, they stay involved with their child, even if the parents separate.

“Equally, we were not surprised to hear that the same childcare and flexible working issues keeping women from actively participating in the workplace, also keep fathers from parenting. We are concerned by this imbalance in parental leave and access to flexible working for fathers. These issues must be addressed if we are to improve outcomes for children and parents right across Scotland.”

The report made some hard-hitting recommendations. These included:

  • A national (Scotland-wide) awareness-raising campaign to help raise the profile of men in childcare and teaching
  • Issuing good-practice guidance on including new fathers in written publications and policies that are not perceived by fathers as tokenistic
  • Supporting the set-up of new groups and help existing groups to grow and help single fathers and fathers in rural areas.

I don’t wish to confuse the issue of fatherhood and the Scottish independence debate, but anyone that knows me will confirm that I’m a unionist with a capital U. Okay, not so much a capital U but a capital U,N,I,O,N,I,S and T. This is what happens when you’re (largely) raised in England from a family with a distinctly Scots and Northern Irish background. In fact Scotland’s so good I married it.

I genuinely live in fear of Scotland voting for independence. The Scots and other devolved assemblies have often led the way and forced a domineering England down a more progressive path. England needs the influence of the Celts to keep it in check.

This report from the Scot’s Parliament is a classic example. Our cousins and friends up north have recognised the importance of us fathers. I’m just hoping the English follow in Scottland’s footsteps.

7 thoughts on “Scotland says “Parent means father and mother””

  1. I hope Scotland stay too, although if I was given a chance to move away from Westminster and forge something new I would be sorely tempted…..Independent Dorset perhaps?! Great post, my brother recently tried to adapt his hours so he could share parenting more evenly with his wife. She gets a very reasonable and helpful response when arranging/changing her flexible hours, he had a far less helpful response, and even after pushing was only able to shorten one work day by agreeing to do longer days the rest of the week, meaning he has actually ended up doing more hours overall in order to pick his twins up from school one afternoon. As I have said before it is an issue I wish feminists picked up on more, as the attitude of many employers re men changing hours for parenting reasons massively impacts on women’s abilities to work too.
    I definitely think more support for men is a good plan too. With my eldest daughter (now almost 18) I stayed home for the first twenty months, then swapped with my (now ex) husband and worked while he was a SAHD. He found it very isolating, and I am not sure much has changed in the intervening 15 or so years!

    1. Sonya, I have to say that voting yesterday was a depressing experience. I looked at the ballot paper and it was packed full of parties with petty nationalist interests; more than I have ever seen before. This must be a response to poor leadership in Westminster and so, hardened unionist that I am, I totally understand why a firebrand like Alex Salmond has proved so popular north of the border.

      Given the freedom Scottish Parliament has, it’s great to see the Scots are debating these issues. I feel every sympathy for your brother and you’re quite right; the feminist movement must appreciate that issues like flexible working have an impact on the entire family. It doesn’t just affect women, it affects a man’s ability to be a hands-on father, limits a child’s ability to spend time with a positive male role model while also stopping mum from going out to work.

      And, no, things haven’t changed hugely for SAHD’s in the past 15 years. As the Scots pointed out, there are no support networks for dads. I’m quite outgoing but it does have its lonely moments.

      As for an independent Dorset. Never. I wouldn’t want to see anything happened that threatened the existence of the Hall and Woodhouse Brewery. It’s one of my favourites.

  2. I don’t believe in pursuing the goals of one sex of society, and am more into equal opportunites and diversity of all. It’s sad that it doesn’t exist yet.

    I do think this is a very emotive issue, and one that won’t easily be followed through, even in Scotland. It was only around a decade ago or so that even us adopters didn’t have the same rights as birth parents in the workplace.

    A year or so ago, I was against independence, but not sit very close on the fence to a definite yes. There are things south of the border I’d like to see up here too, so it’s a difficult call to make. Sadly, with the continuing different legal, health and education systems, almost the only things it seems to me that we have in common are taxes, defence, benefits, immigration and death.

    From a Scottish perspective, I see very little integration as it is, though I am very happy not to have to pay prescription fees, nor the prospect of huge uni fees if any of mine ever decide to go to uni.

    More support for fathers is a no brainer. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for anything to be done about it given that it’s mostly men who run our countries. I imagine it’s because those men don’t have to worry about working conditions, but I’d be guessing.

    Great post. Not sure I’d be happy to stay though 🙂

    1. Oh Lesley, please don’t go!! I didn’t really intend this post to be about Scots Independence but if Scotland breaks away from the UK I predict England, released from the biggest left-leaning part of the UK, would make a lurch to the right and things like equality issues would fall off the political agenda completely. We need you, please stay!

      That said, the leadership in Westminster has been so poor for years that I totally understand why the Scots are tempted to vote yes. It’s also very interesting that such issues are being discussed in Edinburgh. It shows that innovative, progressive policies are being considered and demonstrates the devolved assemblies are capable of ground-breaking work. You’re right though, only time will tell if any of these policies are implemented. I hope they are because over time I think they’d drip through to the rest of the UK.

  3. Interesting… The Scottish Parliament really has forged ahead with some interesting research/ think pieces. I hope they have the resources to put this through, as I thoroughly agree with the recommendations… Then again, giving dads a fairer deal shouldn’t really cost many more tax dollars, as it’s all no-brainer stuff that would be easy to implement if businesses and health professionals got on board!
    (Bumps & Grind)

    1. That, Kat, would be the next battle! We just have to hope the business and health professionals do come on board. The committee has made some great recommendations but will they be implemented? Here’s hoping they are because the rest of the UK would have to follow suit over time.

  4. Pingback: Talking equality, parenting and fatherhood with the SNP | Dad Blog UKTalking equality, parenting and fatherhood with the SNP - Dad Blog UK

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