It seems that fathers are not receiving the parental support they need, according to a recent study.
Research carried out by Deakin University revealed that fathers feel excluded from parenting groups due to their exclusiveness to ‘mums’.
The study, published in the journal Nursing and Health Sciences, observed and interviewed first-time parents about current barriers to parental participation in the groups.
Their experiences showed that parenting groups modelled a traditional family structure, focusing on women as the sole attendees and caregivers for their children.
Men, on the other hand, were seen as less involved in their kids’ lives and therefore, were less welcomed into the mummy-focused groups.
“These mums told us that parents group was an important support for them, but was not accessed by their male partner,” said lead researcher Norma Barrett.
“Sadly, based on what the participants told us, the fathers who did express an interest in parents groups quickly realised it was a female dominated space and stopped attending.”
Fathers reportedly stopped their attendance due to a few common factors: the groups were often labelled as a ‘mum group’, they were outnumbered by women in attendance, meeting times conflicted with work schedules, and invitations to join were often sent to their female partner only.
While there are parenting groups for fathers only, there are far fewer than those for mums, making it harder for dads to find the parenting community they crave.
“Fathers are no longer simply the household breadwinners," Norma explained.
"They are very active parents in contemporary households, often sharing the child rearing load with mothers also working outside the home."
Researchers concluded the study by emphasising the importance of moving away from the idea of a 'mums group' and urging groups to invite fathers to attend by “scheduling session times that suit working parents and ensuring that facilitators actively encourage father participation."
“This may not only have benefits for individual men, and runoff benefits for their families, but over time could also have a generational impact with male engagement in services becoming the new norm."