The role of a healthy and loving family is invaluable when it comes to the process of shaping young people’s adult lives. Not a long time ago, family was not in the area of interest of the governments. It has luckily changed, but family policy is still in the phase of development. There is one aspect which must be seen and taken into consideration seriously – fatherhood.
No one have doubts that father’s influence on children is huge- as huge as father’s total absence. Especially charities working with children from poorer families alarm the society. It is believed that particularly boys suffer from the lack of a father. Unfortunately, there we have a never ending story – unless a boy raised without a father, or by an abusive one, would be able to set a good example of a father to his own son in the future. But it often turns out impossible.
It is true that a child can be happy while being raised by a single parent, but still having both parents engaged in a child’s life is the best possible solution. Parenthood is not easy, sharing parenthood with breadwinning is terribly difficult, so shouldn’t be our aim to provide two parents for children? And is the problem concerning only financial situation of children? Not really, our problem lays not in the lack of money for a new iPad, it lays in the children’s frequent lack of the right relationship with a father who is actively present in their lives (also if parents do not live together). In addition to this, the problems comes from treating marriage as an institution not the environment for children’s growth.
Until 1991 non-resident fathers were not obliged to even financially support their children. Until 2003, unmarried fathers needed a consent of their child’s mother to receive a legal parental responsibility. The whole policy generally seem to focus mainly on single mothers whereas fathers turn out to be totally neglected. And we must pay for this wrong socially accepted family order more and more.
Only when the importance of fathers is finally highlighted, the solution to the problem could be found. First of all, about a half of working fathers claim that they would like to have a less stressful job to find a balance between their personal lives and work. What is more, fathers are legally able to receive only two weeks of paternity leave. And the benefits system does not provide any effective help for separated parents who share their parenthood responsibility. The discrimination is present, poorer families struggle with too much burden and it needs to be changed if we want to live in a healthy society.
Politicians need to reach the core of the problem, not continuously float on its surface by making some not necessarily helping laws. Mothers are still more “important” and the gender gap will never disappear if we do not start treating fathers as equal parents. More father-friendly policy can only bring improvement – in many areas. There is a lot to be done: better paternity leave conditions, removing discrimination based on paternity, compulsory sex and relationship education which would highlight the expectations about the responsible parents. We should finally realize that it is parenthood which counts, not only marriage or motherhood.