Douglas Guest: Engaging Dads in the Early Years
Douglas Guest, of Fathers Network Scotland, provides an insight into Year of the Dad and the importance of engaging dads and father figures in the early years.
I'm Douglas Guest. I'm from Fathers Network Scotland. I'm one of the co-creators of Year of The Dad. Year of The Dad is a campaign for father-inclusive services and dad-friendly employers. We started at Father's Network Scotland many years ago talking to organisations about "Where's Dad?" Most organizations and services that target parents get mums. By changing your narrative to mums and dads, you move from the ninety percent of mums that come to services and start to get more dads. It's not about getting more dads to deliver services, or more men to deliver services, it’s about just changing staff attitudes, to think that we can engage with dads. Giving them a few minutes of your time to actually talk to them as people, rather than just going straight away and just talking to mum and seeing her as the primary carer. We've learned from some work in South Lanarkshire, that if a professional gives you a leaflet, you won't access services as a dad, but if a professional gives you a leaflet and then talks about what you can do, as a dad you'll access services, you'll get over some of your anxieties, some of your isolation. We know from Scandinavia that if dads are engaged in the early years, they're more likely to be engaged in the future years of the child's life. We know that over a child's life time that dads and mums are of equal value, have equal impact. One thing that we feel quite passionately and why we're working with Scottish Book Trust is around Dads Read. This isn't just reading, this is bonding and attachment and being close to your child, winding them down after the physical play that dads often do in the evening, getting them ready for bed. It's getting a routine that makes you comfortable and the child comfortable, and spending that quality time. And it's also an adult literacy project, because both the children and the adults can learn together, be comfortable with learning together and improve their imagination and their creativity and their curiosity for books.