Launching our wave 1 Briefing Paper series: the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on young fathers

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of two new briefing papers based on wave 1 of the Following Young Fathers Further research. As part of this short series we present emergent findings of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on the parenting journeys and support needs of the seventeen young fathers we interviewed. The papers can be accessed here and on the Findings and Publications tab of our website.

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Briefing Paper One considers the changing earning and caring trajectories of young fathers. The findings we present in this briefing paper demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic and first lockdown engendered major changes in the organisation of work and family life for young fathers and their families. Those with young babies were forced to adjust to their new identities and bond with their babies against a backdrop of major social upheaval. Despite notable challenges linked to the exclusion of fathers from overnight stays at hospitals, the young fathers valued the additional time they were afforded to spend quality time with children. These findings demonstrate the vital need for the establishment of a caring economy and the introduction of stable incomes, especially in contexts of crisis, so that there is always a safety net for young families. They also lend significant weight to the value of introducing affordable and accessible paternity leave for all fathers, more home working and shorter hours to enable flexibility for care sharing.

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Briefing Paper Two explores the implications and effects of the pandemic on young fathers’ wider family relationships and experiences of isolation during the lockdown. The impacts of the lockdown on young fathers reflect a mixed picture. For young fathers who were already disconnected from their children and families, the lockdown reinforced feelings of social isolation. For others, it was perceived as an opportunity for increased time to be alone and/or to support family members and children. Based on our findings we recommend that services remain attentive to the support needs of young fathers and develop a caring and compassionate approach that acknowledges the longer-term implications of the pandemic on their mental health and well-being.
We also have a forthcoming paper planned for early next year that will focus on how support services fared and adapted in their remit to support young fathers.

We extend our special thanks to Emerita Professor Bren Neale for providing comments on earlier drafts of the papers in a very short space of time and to Dr Michael Richardson, Newcastle University for supporting the interview process for some of the dads who participated.

We welcome any feedback or questions you may have on these findings and appreciate your support in disseminating the papers among your networks.

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