Dads can cope but society says no

British dads are being poorly prepared for fatherhood, with 46% feeling ignored by maternity services and 57% saying that antenatal classes aren’t adequately preparing them for the task ahead.

While two thirds of fathers believe themselves to be as competent as their partner in looking after their baby, two thirds feel that the general public doesn’t trust them to do this.

Ocado, the online supermarket, has worked with the Fatherhood Institute to better understand the role fathers play in today’s households. It’s survey suggests British fathers are clearly up for the task of becoming a father. With an 800% increase in the time they spend on childcare since the 1970s and a 500% increase since 1961 in the amount of cooking and washing up they do, men are now spending an average of 27 minutes per day cooking and washing up, compared with an average of five minutes thirty years ago .

The survey also revealed current perceptions of the new laws, introduced on 3rd April 2011:

  • 54% of fathers did not know they could take over the second six months of their partner’s maternity leave
  • 50% of fathers believe that taking six months’ Additional paternity leave would damage their career prospects – while only 22% think that their partner’s taking six months’ maternity leave would damage their partners’.
  • 75% of respondents think it’s easier to go to work than look after a new born baby.
  • 81% of fathers support the new laws and the opportunity for couples to share the care of their baby in the first year.
  • 70% of fathers believe their partner’s career won’t be affected by taking a full year’s maternity leave.

Greg Rusedski, one of the UK’s best known tennis players and a father of two, said, “Fathers today are becoming a bigger part of their children’s upbringing, with dads now carrying out a quarter of the family’s childcare related activities during the week and one third at weekends. A father’s involvement in the family from early on is incredibly important as they have a big influence over children’s food and exercise choices.”

Rusedski, who is working with Ocado offering tips and advice to new dads, added, “Looking after young kids can be as exhausting as competing on the tennis court, but recent changes to paternity laws gives dad the chance to get involved around the house which can help build stronger family relationships.”

Jason Gissing, co-founder of Ocado, said, “The recent change in paternity laws gives new fathers the opportunity to spend more time at home with their children. We want to help households run as smoothly as possible, which is why we’re looking at ways to make life easier for dads and new parents, such as our forthcoming Personal Shopper service that should tick another thing off the family’s to-do list.”

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