Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Published at 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK


Straw plea to absent fathers

Many parents find bringing up children hard but rewarding

Fathers should spend more time with their children, Home Secretary Jack Straw has told a conference on parenting.

Mr Straw said fathers who work too much miss out, as do their children.

He told a conference organised by the children's charity Barnardo's that research showed many fathers only spent 15 minutes a day with their children.

And he had heard of one who spent just 18 minutes a week with his child.

"In a blink of an eye children are grown up and it's sad if you miss out," he said.

"Think about what you'll get out of seeing your children as well as what you children will get out of it."

Mr Straw said he believed attitudes could change.

Last year, the government launched a consultation paper, Supporting Families, which included initiatives such as a 24-hour telephone parenting helpline and a new parenting institute.

Mr Straw said the institute could promote positive fatherhood roles.

He cited a project in Plymouth called Dads and Lads which was based around football and encouraged fathers to spend more time with their children.


His comments came as Barnardo's published an NOP poll which showed that 61% of parents found looking after children hard.

Putting paid to the mother-in-law jokes, 53% of fathers said they had asked their mother-in-law for help with their children, compared with only 26% of mothers.

[ image: Jack Straw says fathers are missing out on seeing their children grow up]
Jack Straw says fathers are missing out on seeing their children grow up
Most parents said they would welcome support and that this should be aimed at all parents, not just those who were clearly having trouble controlling their children.

About half said they were attend parenting classes and they said these should include issues such as parent/child communication, toddler development, advice on discipline and special help for fathers.

The poll includes a host of questions about the nature of modern parenting, including disciplinary issues and common worries parents have about their children.

Parents' number one concern was bullying, followed by drugs, traffic, sexual abuse and kidnap.


The poll ties in with a Barnardo's report entitled What Works in Parenting Education.

Most parents surveyed expressed positive emotions about parenting. Eighty-seven per cent said their most common emotion was joy, followed by pride.

But more than half said there had been a number of occasions when they felt the need for support.

Ninety-four per cent said it was helpful to talk about their problems.

David Gamble, Barnardo's chair of council, said: "This poll shows that parents care deeply about the crucial job that they undertake.

"There needs to be more commitment to helping parents develop skills to address day to day difficulties."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

24 May 99 | Education
Parents to be given right to know more

19 Apr 99 | Education
Parents 'patronised by teachers'

19 Apr 99 | Education
Anxious parents push up revision sales

14 Apr 99 | Education
Parents cheat over school places

Internet Links

Home Office



The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online