Young parenthood: including fathers in the debate? Gayle Letherby, University of Plymouth Geraldine Brady, SURGE, Coventry...
Introduction <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Research Findings: Study One </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Experience and supp...
Background   <ul><li>Teenage Pregnancy Strategy focuses on pregnant young women and mothers, </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of foc...
Research Findings Study One:  ‘Experience and support needs of ‘young’ fathers’ (2004) <ul><li>Fathers accessed via partne...
Experiences of early fatherhood <ul><li>Changing roles and responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Doing fatherhood differently...
Changing roles and responsibilities <ul><li>. . .  the only thing I’m feeling scared about is the sole responsibility for ...
Doing fatherhood differently <ul><li>. . .  probably I won’t be drawing on my experiences of my mother or my father. . . a...
Involvement/non involvement as a father <ul><li>If it’s the [health professional’s ]personal opinion that you are too youn...
<ul><li>I felt useless. It was actually the midwife that made me feel part of it. I was actually shocked. It was just the ...
Complexity of relationships <ul><li>To me the second most important person is Nicole for the simple fact that she is the o...
Relationship between findings and ‘Next Steps’ policy document <ul><li>‘ Next Steps’ a cknowledges that ‘parenthood can ac...
Research Findings Study Two:   ‘Power and control within the intimate and familial relationships of pregnant teenagers and...
Experiences of partner violence and abuse  <ul><li>Sexual, emotional and physical violence – including:  </li></ul><ul><ul...
Sexual, emotional and physical violence <ul><li>I remember waking up and he was on top of me.  I don’t remember saying I w...
Sexual, emotional and physical violence <ul><li>I would say it was like being a prisoner.  I did fight for some of my righ...
Age differences   <ul><li>I’m nearly 18 and he’s 32.  We have been together for 3 years.  He was abusive in the way he tre...
Age differences <ul><li>He was worried that I was going to say something, going to grass him up.  I had to explain to him ...
Complexity of relationships  <ul><li>I say to him, in a way, he saved me.  I was going through a rough patch before I met ...
‘ Bringing men back in’? <ul><li>WHY? </li></ul><ul><li>Important as part of the feminist project/taking gender seriously/...
‘ Bringing men back in’? <ul><li>YET:  </li></ul><ul><li>It is not unproblematic to include fathers not least because of t...
Further contact: <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
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Young parenthood: including fathers in the debate?

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Whilst there has been increasing interest by government in the issue of teenage pregnancy much of the emphasis of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has focused on pregnant young women and young mothers with little regard for the fathers of their babies.

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  • Young parenthood: including fathers in the debate?

    1. 1. Young parenthood: including fathers in the debate? Gayle Letherby, University of Plymouth Geraldine Brady, SURGE, Coventry University Geraldine Brown, SURGE, Coventry University ESRC Changing Parenting Culture Seminar 2 University of Cambridge 3 April 2009
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Research Findings: Study One </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Experience and support needs of ‘young’ fathers’ (2004)* </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research Findings: Study Two </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Power and Control in the intimate and familial relationships of young mothers’ (2006)** </li></ul><ul><li>Bringing men back in? </li></ul><ul><li>* funded by Warwickshire TPBB </li></ul><ul><li>** funded by Coventry TPBB </li></ul>
    3. 3. Background <ul><li>Teenage Pregnancy Strategy focuses on pregnant young women and mothers, </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of focus on fathers of young women’s babies, </li></ul><ul><li>Dearth of knowledge masks diversity – assumed to be homogeneous group, </li></ul><ul><li>Parenthood high on political agenda – drive to engage fathers, engage who? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Research Findings Study One: ‘Experience and support needs of ‘young’ fathers’ (2004) <ul><li>Fathers accessed via partners, ex-partners, Connexions young father’s workers, </li></ul><ul><li>In-depth interviews – 14 fathers of young women’s babies </li></ul><ul><li>Also young mothers, grandmothers, professionals. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Experiences of early fatherhood <ul><li>Changing roles and responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Doing fatherhood differently </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement/non-involvement as a father </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity of relationships </li></ul>
    6. 6. Changing roles and responsibilities <ul><li>. . . the only thing I’m feeling scared about is the sole responsibility for that child’s upbringing and how that person turns out in this world is really down to you. . . . it is a lot of responsibility (Matt, 22). </li></ul><ul><li>I didn’t know I could feel so many feelings and emotions all at the same time […] I think the first feeling you feel is fear… I think a lot agree that with the first child you think ‘am I ready for this?’ . . . I can barely wipe my own arse and now I have got a child’ (Jack, 16). </li></ul><ul><li>Before I had my son I used to dabble in drugs, now I won’t go near it because I want to see him grow up (Jason, 22) . </li></ul><ul><li>. . . I’d rather spend time with Crystal and my son instead of going out all the time. It’s made me a lot more responsible, I don’t do anything silly any more or get myself into trouble (Joe, 17). </li></ul>
    7. 7. Doing fatherhood differently <ul><li>. . . probably I won’t be drawing on my experiences of my mother or my father. . . as I had everything physically I could need but emotionally I was kind of left alone, but I can’t say my dad was a bad dad just that he was a bit absent, AWOL without leaving the room. If anything it’s made me more adamant to make sure I don’t make the same mistake, break the cycle and make sure it doesn’t repeat itself (Matt, 22). </li></ul><ul><li>I just looked at my parents and the things I wanted to avoid. I didn’t want to turn out like my father. My nan always used to say to me that I was going to be like my father and it used to annoy me because I hate my dad and I don’t want to be like him (Pete, 18). </li></ul>
    8. 8. Involvement/non involvement as a father <ul><li>If it’s the [health professional’s ]personal opinion that you are too young to have a baby then surely their personal opinion should be kept to themselves and not told to the person involved because it is a form of discrimination sometimes…you’re talking down to them and patronising that person because you think they’re too young (Matt, 22). </li></ul><ul><li>I just sort of felt a little left out as if like, you know, I was just there to support her and that’s it. I mean, I just felt like, you know ‘I’m here as well I’m part of the family, speak to me as well’. I was isolated (Phil, 22) </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>I felt useless. It was actually the midwife that made me feel part of it. I was actually shocked. It was just the way they were, her mum and dad. Ever since he was born I just felt I had to ask permission to look after my own child. . . . I tried to hold him but they wouldn’t leave him to get used to me and that just really upset me (Jason, 22). </li></ul><ul><li>It was just about the way they were her mum and dad … I had to ask permission to look after my own child or to do anything with him. I had to ask and they just went up to him (Jack, 16). </li></ul>Involvement/non involvement as a father
    10. 10. Complexity of relationships <ul><li>To me the second most important person is Nicole for the simple fact that she is the one my son is going to need. . . . I don’t want to hassle her because I don’t think she needs the hassle. . . . People say ‘why don’t you demand to see him’ and all that stuff, as long as he’s alright that’s all I want. Of course I’d love to see him but one thing at a time (Jack 16). </li></ul><ul><li>SOPHIE : … it’s only because it’s not an ideal situation, we’re not living together so I have the baby all night and he gets up like at 5 o’clock in the morning I get grumpy and Danny gets it.  </li></ul><ul><li>DANNY ( 16 ) : I got it in the neck a bit today … if I do it wrong I just get shouted at. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Relationship between findings and ‘Next Steps’ policy document <ul><li>‘ Next Steps’ a cknowledges that ‘parenthood can act as a trigger for young fathers to desist from negative behaviours, change their lifestyle and become interested in how they can better support their family’ (2007:60). </li></ul><ul><li>NS also refers fleetingly to the possibility of child protection concerns in a ‘minority of cases’ where partners are older . . . . </li></ul>
    12. 12. Research Findings Study Two: ‘Power and control within the intimate and familial relationships of pregnant teenagers and young mothers’ (2006) <ul><li>Young mothers accessed via young parent groups, semi supported housing schemes, unit for school-aged mothers, </li></ul><ul><li>In-depth interviews with 9 young mothers (NB no pseudonyms), </li></ul><ul><li>Also key professionals and informal supporters. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    13. 13. Experiences of partner violence and abuse <ul><li>Sexual, emotional and physical violence – including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continual and constant criticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being dominated and undermined </li></ul></ul><ul><li>- which often leads to fear and isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Age differences </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity of relationships </li></ul>
    14. 14. Sexual, emotional and physical violence <ul><li>I remember waking up and he was on top of me. I don’t remember saying I would sleep with him in the first place…. there are times I want to say to him ‘do you not remember how she (daughter) was conceived?’ – he wonders why I hate him. People don’t think about people being raped… they just think unprotected sex. </li></ul><ul><li>He kicked me … when he was drunk. I got a job in a local pub and he got paranoid that I would go off with somebody else and he was shoving me around the kitchen and that.… I used to think that I deserved it, I was so down on myself all the time. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Sexual, emotional and physical violence <ul><li>I would say it was like being a prisoner. I did fight for some of my rights …. But, it didn’t happen without a fight in the house and without them telling me what they thought of me and things like that. Even simple things like using washing up powder would be a big deal…I think I put a lot of pressure on myself that I would do all the house work. I used to think to myself that if I do everything then I could do what I wanted and then they can’t say anything but that is not how it works…. Worse than that was the mental abuse, the swearing, the putting down, which I got from all of them…. I remember my mother-in-law taking over saying, ‘feed him this and feed him that’. I had to feed him what they said. They used to say ‘is that the only clothes he has got? He wears them all the time’. They were just full of criticism…. I had to grit my teeth and think ‘bloody hell’. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Age differences <ul><li>I’m nearly 18 and he’s 32. We have been together for 3 years. He was abusive in the way he treated me and talked to me because he thought he was older and I was a child. </li></ul><ul><li>He’s 35 now. He was 32 when I met him and 33 when I told him I was pregnant…. I think he was not pleased about his family knowing I was only 16. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Age differences <ul><li>He was worried that I was going to say something, going to grass him up. I had to explain to him as well that I hadn’t mentioned his name and I was not going to because of the age gap. I wasn’t going to do that… </li></ul><ul><li>They [partner’s parents] think really badly of me. They think I’m lazy and all I do is sit around on my backside…. they met me when I was 14, I was still at school yet. They would ask why I don’t go and get a job, why we were not buying a house? ‘When are you going to get married?’ It was really hard to keep telling those lies and they do think I’m lazy…. And I’m not. I really want to say to them, ‘look I am only 16 and I can’t do that yet’. But I can’t for his sake. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Complexity of relationships <ul><li>I say to him, in a way, he saved me. I was going through a rough patch before I met him. I was drinking and taking drugs and I wasn’t listening to my mum and dad, I was arguing, running away, not coming home for days, I wasn’t going to school. I met him, got pregnant and stayed in education. He helped me because if I hadn’t met him and had my daughter I wouldn’t have done my exams, I wouldn’t be here now and I wouldn’t be going to college. I think I would have ended up in the gutter somewhere as an alcoholic and my mum and dad know that. That is why I say to him that he did save me. </li></ul>
    19. 19. ‘ Bringing men back in’? <ul><li>WHY? </li></ul><ul><li>Important as part of the feminist project/taking gender seriously/recognising the relationship between gender and other social signifiers of difference, not least because: </li></ul><ul><li>- reproduction is not just ‘women’s business’. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Young’ fathers often want to be involved in their child’s life and do not shirk their responsibility. BUT factors militate against their involvement. So there is a need to: </li></ul><ul><li>- consider ‘young’ families not just young parents. </li></ul>
    20. 20. ‘ Bringing men back in’? <ul><li>YET: </li></ul><ul><li>It is not unproblematic to include fathers not least because of the often hidden: </li></ul><ul><li>Experiences of control, violence, abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Age differences </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, any attempt to ‘bring men back in’ to discussions on and about teenage pregnancy and young parenthood need to be sophisticated in terms of both potential and real power differentials. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Further contact: <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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