John Hayward Posted: 14 February 2008
Keywords: Sex & Families,
Father engagement reduces the frequency of behavioural problems in boys and psychological problems in young women; it also enhances cognitive development while decreasing criminality and economic disadvantage in low socio-economic status (SES) families ... Public policy has the potential to serve as a facilitator or barrier to fathers spending time with their children during the crucial early years of development. Thus, even without knowing what exactly brings about the positive outcomes seen in this review, there is enough support to urge both professionals and policy makers to improve circumstances for involved fathering.
That is the conclusion of a new research review published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, in which the authors draw upon only the most rigorous international studies, including information from approximately 22,300 families.
The problem is, as Michael schluter noted in the Jubilee Manifesto, "Through the tax system, and the demands of central administration for skilled and educated personnel, a national government can easily rob the (extended) family of the human and financial resources it requires to flourish." However, involved fathering - or, more generally, involved parenting - is not an isolated issue that the state can encourage simply by tinkering with the tax and benefits system. If we are to recognise the key importance of fathers - and families - in defining cultural identity, for transmission of cultural values and for economic growth and welfare functions, we will need to consider a far more holistic approach to a wide range of issues. For instance, questions must be raised about the Government's promotion of childcare as a means of encouraging women's participation in the labour market, because a child's relationship with a carer is inevitably more limited and short-term than with parents; the adult:child ratio is, after all, almost always highest in the home. Similarly, an obvious need is to limit the length of the working week if parents are to have the time they need properly to nurture their children.
If the government wants to deal with the problems of anti-social behaviour and violent crime, it is going to have to start paying more than lip-service to the central place of the family in society.