Following Young Fathers book cover
Policy Press
12 March 2024Update

Out Now! The Dynamics of Young Fatherhood

Following Young Fathers Further book cover
Policy Press

The Dynamics of Young Fatherhood: Understanding the Parenting Journeys and Support Needs of Young Fathers

Based on the more extended study of young fatherhood in the world, this book provides a rich, detailed, state-of-the-art account of the unfolding lives of young fathers (aged 25 and under) in the UK, providing key insights into the joys of parenthood, as well as the key challenges they navigate as they enter parenthood at a young age. This book also provides important practice and policy relevant insights for any professional that engages with families.

Book Overview

Around 1 in 10 children born in the UK are fathered by men under the age of 25. These men are often from socially disadvantaged areas and frequently overlooked in both research and practice settings. Using findings from a major Economic and Social Research Council study, Following Young Fathers, and supplemented with additional data from Following Young Fathers Further, the authors focus on the transitions of young fathers into early parenthood and their unfolding lives thereafter.

As negative popular and media discourse around young fathers begins to shift, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and students will find future policy and practice directions designed to nurture the potential of these young men and their children.

“One of the most important books on adolescent and young adult fathers ever published. Moving interviews document how young fatherhood is shaped by personal, familial, institutional and societal influences, illuminating factors that facilitate or impede their efforts to be engaged, caring parents and the implications for medical and social services and public policy.” Mark S. Kiselica, Penn State Harrisburg

Authors

Bren Neale is Emeritus Professor of Life course and Family Research (University of Leeds, School of Sociology and Social Policy, UK) and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Bren specialises in research on the dynamics of family life and intergenerational relationships and has published widely in this field. Bren is a leading expert in qualitative longitudinal (QL) research methodology.

From 2007 to 2012 she directed the Economic and Social Research Council- funded Timescapes Initiative, as part of which she advanced QL methods and archiving across academia, and in government and non- governmental organisation settings. She continues to provide support and training in this methodology for new and established researchers across the disciplines.

Anna Tarrant is Professor of Sociology at the University of Lincoln, where she is also the Director of the Centre for Innovation in Fatherhood and Family Research. She has been funded to the tune of £1.7 million by the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship scheme to lead Following Young Fathers Further, a seven- year qualitative longitudinal and participatory study about the lives and support needs of young fathers. Her research specialisms include men and masculinities; family diversity and dynamics; and methods of qualitative secondary analysis and co- creation.

Anna has built a corpus of publications in these areas including monographs and edited collections. Notable recent contributions include Men and Welfare (2023, Routledge, with Linzi Ladlow and Laura Way), Fathering and Poverty (2021, Policy Press), Men, Families and Poverty: Tracing the Intergenerational Trajectories of Place-Based Hardship (2023, Palgrave Macmillan) and Qualitative Secondary Analysis (2020, Sage) with Kahryn Hughes.

From our partners and young dads

[Speaking about support of young fathers] We’ve done a lot of kind of advocation and representing them, a lot of the time there’s involvement with statutory services. They don’t have the care of the young person, the care’s provided by the state or the mother, so we’ve attended lots of meetings with the young person to offer additional support and facilitated contact where necessary and offered just general emotional wellbeing, support, improving robustness and resilience, encouraging them to have as amicable relationship as possible.

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Housing Charity

And I suppose it goes back to what we were saying before about behaviours, maybe the education side of stuff and the fact that men aren’t involved in those early conversations, you know, whether it is, I know they’re invited to come along to bumps to babies but I don’t know whether we go into the detail around some of that brain development side of stuff and things like that. Maybe that is the thing that really would change things. You know, if you were given all of that information about what happens to a child as they grow, in a scientific way, as easy to understand as possible, could be the thing that impacted on behaviour in the home.

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Children's Charity

I think both a mother and father combined, it’s communicating and both being on the same page of what’s best for your child or children, and for both, it’s just being there 100% for them and not, like, putting yourself first, it’s, you know, putting the child’s interests first...

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Jock, 33
I was 23 when I had my child

We need to be including, we need to not [just] be focusing on mum and child […] That’s a great focus but dad … dad’s not invisible, dad needs to be in the picture as well because there’s research that shows you the effect it has on children and families as a whole when dad isn’t in the picture, so services need to be changing the way in which they work so it’s more inclusive.

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Children and Families Support Organisation

Cause I think a lot of the time, some of young people who end up having children have been through the care system or support systems and they can feel quite judged or labelled by organisations and it’s breaking the cycle and breaking them out of that to feel empowered to be able to take stuff back, that’s the real interest to me. So, it’s about getting support right, as in being there and giving advice and guidance and all them things that we can do, but also making sure that we are doing with people as opposed to people.

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Children's Charity

One of the most successful projects we ever did was an informal dads’ group, and it used to be on Saturdays […] they did what they wanted, they used to do things like breakfast, and they would have breakfast together and talk about dad stuff and where they were taking their kids. And that group was always really well attended because there was never an agenda. They were never judged. They were just there together.

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Children and Families Support Organisation

...the whole stay at home dad thing is not something to be ashamed of, you know, if you’re a dad and you wanna take your daughter out for the day, or you wanna take your kid out for the day on your own, well why is that frowned upon, why can’t you take your child out for the day

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Toby, 26
I was 24 when I had my first child.

Oh…patience…compassion…tolerance, a whole boatload a’ that!  Honestly, I like a whole lot of life.  Sacrifice…compromise, yeah I think, yeah I think they, they would be the, the big, the five, I feel, I think that was five, they would be the main. 

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Ben, 31
I was 20 when I had my child

We’re currently in touch with social services for two [dads] because they don’t understand why they can’t see their children because they haven’t been informed by social services, their partner. So there’s a massive communication breakdown with those young men, so that’s the main focus of what we’re dealing with at the minute.

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Young Fathers' Support Organisation

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