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Year of the Dad hits the Headlines

David Drysdale & son on STVIt’s barely ten days since the launch of Year of the Dad – and already we’ve been delighted by extensive and supportive coverage in print, online and broadcast media.

Clearly this celebration of the difference a great dad can make has struck a chord across the nation. Here’s our round-up of media coverage so far – with thanks to our friends at Smarts:

First out of the gate, on the eve of the launch, was Kenny Farquharson in the Times, who visited a Dads Rock hairstyling session in Wester Hailes and presented a thoughtful and supportive piece under the stereotype-shattering image of a man in camouflage jacket carefully arranging his daughter’s hair into bunches. (Great too to see Kenny adding our YOTD supporters twibbon to his twitter profile - why not do the same?).

The same day BBC News online carried a report - the first in a stream of great coverage from the Beeb, including discussions in no fewer than three different shows on BBC Radio Scotland, which is running a whole season on parenting

Tim Porteus of Midlothian Sure Start told a personal and compelling story and fielded some knotty questions on Good Morning Scotland (starts 1hr50min in). And Thomas Lynch of Dads Rock guested on Sunday Morning with Ricky Ross (starts 1hr34min in) – who turned out to have a very personal understanding of the need for Year of the Dad.

RICKY ROSS ON PLAYGROUPRicky Ross, Thomas Lynch and others

The Deacon Blue frontman-turned-radio presenter remembered feeling invisible as a father taking his own kids to playgroup: "There was a particular woman that would always go,” he told Thomas. “And I’d be sitting there as the only guy or maybe one of two guys in the room and she’d say: “Now mums…” and I’d think “Agh!” Because that’s not me, and it did feel quite alienating…”

It’s a common experience for dads, and the ensuing discussion - also involving Jackie Tolland, director of Parenting Network Scotland, and Andrea McKinnon, mother of four – is fascinating and well worth a listen while it’s still available on iPlayer.

Back on BBC Scotland for The Kaye Adams programme (starts 2hrs22mins in) the following Tuesday, Thomas joined presenter Louise White in another discussion, this time with Andy Steedman, a gay dad, and Alan Donaldson, who is father to one and step-father to three. Brilliant to see such a diversity of dads represented – one of the aims of Year of the Dad.

Sam Pringle, Peter Airlie and Aileen Campbell MSP with the famously father-friendly penguinsThe launch at Edinburgh Zoo featured large in much of the print coverage by newspapers like the Herald, Scotsman, National and broadcasters STV news, which interviewed YOTD co-founder David Drysdale among others. All p-p-p-picked up on our penguin photo shoot - penguins being renowned for shared parenting, in case you were wondering - with the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, Fathers Network Scotland CEO Sam Pringle, and guest of honour Peter Airlie and family.

Peter’s inspiring story of his decision to be there for his children after becoming a dad at 15 clearly caught the imagination of journalists fed up of peddling the same old “feckless dad” stereotypes, and the whole family was featured at length in the Daily Record on Monday and BBC Radio 1 newsbeat (starts 9min12sec in), both in the programme and an online story. Thankyou Pete!

OPINION PIECES

And the media have continued to show a keen interest, with columnist Gerry Farrell giving another big thumbs up to Peter (alongside Rabbie Burns!) in the Edinburgh Evening News during the week, and Catriona Stewart penning a hard-hitting and supportive opinion piece in the Herald last Saturday.

“Social expectations set dads up to be absent or to fail," she wrote. "So does policy. I have sat through countless children's hearings where mum is unable to care for her children yet dad hasn't even been contacted or consulted, even if he's on the scene.”

Particularly keen to enlist the support of women, Catriona wrote: “Having dad equally involved in their upbringing has myriad benefits for the health, wellbeing and development of children. For men, parenting is optional. It shouldn't be optional. We can't legislate for compulsion so here we are, with Year of the Dad making a persuasive case for changing social attitudes.”

Catriona StewartOf all the media we’ve had so far, we think this is the most persuasive and ripe for sharing, particularly among women who fear that Year of the Dad is a threat in some way. It’s the very opposite of that, and Catriona explains why.

Well that’s our media round-up for now. Thanks to all who have featured Year of the Dad in online blogs and organisational newsletters, and do let us know if we’ve missed something. Meanwhile we’ll continue to list every new mention in our twitter and Facebook feeds.

SPREAD THE MUSIC

But if you’re looking for something to melt hearts in a straightforward way, please continue to share the lovely Song for Dads, from Fischy Music and the kids at Queensferry Primary School. It’s clearly caught the public imagination, with our launch preview version racking up nearly 1800 views in just over a week.

Now we’ve got a final edit online, and we need to send that far and wide - because the most persuasive argument for fully-involved dads will always come from the children themselves!