Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Fathers and Fatherhood in Britain (book review)

L Burghes, L Clarke & N Cronin (1997)

Family Policy Studies Centre (Occasional Paper No. 23)
ISBN 0 907051 99 5 £9.95. pbk
When it comes to research on the family and parenting it has been mothers who have been the traditional objects of concern. During the 1990's there has been a tremendous upsurge of interest in fathers and fatherhood. The publication of this paper represents a delayed but welcome attempt by the Family Policy Studies Centre to relate to the issue of fathers and fathering.

The paper is clearly set out in report style, there is a good review of the existing and previous research. The authors present for the first time an analysis of the 1992 British Household Panel Study, which provides evidence on patterns of fathering, how many men of different ages have fathered children and where they live in relation to their dependent children. An interesting observation is that more than eight in ten fathers of dependent children live with all their own biological children.

The legal position of fathers is well summed up with a clear description of parental responsibility, section 8 orders, and child support legislation. Other chapters are concerned with fathers as breadwinners, fathers and family life, and non resident fathers. Here we get a good summary of current research; the Relate study: Being There and the more recent Fathers Apart material from Johnathan Bradshaw. Predictably much of the discussion revolves around the issue of contact with no proper examination of the potential of shared parenting.

Fathers and Fatherhood in Britain is a good introduction to the issues, its delayed publication has meant that Adrienne Burgess' earlier book: Fatherhood Reclaimed, Vermillion, 1997 has somewhat already scooped the market. These two books read in conjunction would give the reader a very good introduction to the current state of play.

Arthur Baker

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