Source: Salesian Schools
Salesian Father David O'Malley writes:
"The most important thing that a father can do for his children is love their mother." I heard that sentence decades ago when fathers were the main bread winners and many mothers stayed at home rather than working in paid employment. The statement is true and a beautiful endorsement of married love as the complex commitment and rich relationship within which children are best raised.
But I have a problem with it too. It seems to remove any need for the father to engage meaningfully with his children. It accepts too easily the notion of an absent father. The point of this brief reflection is that children need their fathers but it is also true that fathers need their children. Let's take a look at the current situation which is in significant change.
The impact of the pandemic
The number of full-time stay-at-home dads in the UK has leapt by a third since before the pandemic, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. The data shows that one in nine full-time stay-at-home parents are fathers, up from one in 14 in 2019. The time spent by mothers in direct care for their children has dropped by 3% and the time spent by fathers has increased by 18% over the period from 2014 to 2022. This trend towards the closing of the gender gap in childcare is encouraging and looks likely to continue especially if working from home becomes an embedded feature of employment in the UK.