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Why Dads?

Welcome to Year of the Dad, celebrating the difference a great dad can make!

Throughout 2016 and beyond, we’re issuing a rallying call to services and employers to support dads, embrace family-friendly, inclusive practice and reflect the importance of fathers in child development.

Why focus on dads?

Because society hasn’t yet caught up with the striking cultural changes that have taken place in the home and workplace over the past fifty years. The old stereotype of married breadwinner and disciplinarian no longer serves us in an age of increasing diversity and gender equality. It’s time to celebrate and support the key contribution fathers make to child development, family and community life.

Diversity of dads

Today’s father can be single or married; externally employed or a stay-at home dad; gay or straight. While some biological dads don’t do fathering, other non-biological dads can and do - whether that’s grandfathers, uncles, foster fathers, adoptive fathers or stepfathers. Whoever they are, more is now expected of dads - and the changes are remarkable.

DAD_AND_BABY.png What has changed?

Dads now play a more active role in a child care and domestic life in general.

  • Their involvement in parenting has increased from less than 15 minutes a day in the mid-1970s to three hours a day during the week, with more at the weekend (Fisher et al, 1999)
  • Once seen by services as an after-thought or even a distraction from the real work of supporting mum, dads are now making their presence felt in health centres, schools and what used to be called “mother and toddler groups”.
  • Typically excluded from the birth of their children until the late 1950s, today men rightly expect to be present to support partners from the start of pregnancy, and to welcome their children into the world.
  • Recent legislation – including changes to birth registration, the right to request flexible working and shared parental leave – means forward-thinking organisations no longer assume it will only be mum who takes time off.

Who benefits?


Research overwhelmingly shows that children are more likely to be smarter, healthier and happier if their dads are positively involved.


Women rightly expect a good dad to be involved in birth plans, child care and decision-making about children; and promoting equality for fathers as parents helps advance equality for women at work.


Equality at home and flexibility in work means better work-life balance for dads, who overwhelmingly want more involvement in the lives of their children.


Valuing and supporting dads brings business benefits of increased employee engagement and a healthier work-life balance, which means more motivated workers.


Services for children and families will deliver their best when they involve dads in child development, welfare and protection


Happier and more connected dads, children and families makes a better world for all of us – which is why the Scottish Government has enshrined support for dads in its National Parenting Strategy.

For more detail, check out our resources for families, services and employers.


Accelerate the change

Despite these changes, most dads still think they currently spend too little time with their children and too much time at work. We also know that children want more involvement from their dads. So Year of the Dad is all about encouraging employers and services to set an example by sharing great practice, signing up as an organisation – and help accelerate the change into a father-friendly, family-friendly, inclusive world.

Are you on board?

Let’s make this happen – and celebrate the difference a great dad can make.

How to get involved:

Sign up as supporter of Year of the Dad

Add your dad-friendly organisation

Browse resources

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Check out our toolkits for employers, families and services.

Did you know?

In 29% of families both mum and dad work full time.
(Connolly et al 2013)