Dads and kids webchat June 15th

Join former stay-at-home dad and new CEO of the Fatherhood Institute Rob Williams for a chat about how dads can be better fathers, 12-1pm Monday June15th. Wondering how to get your partner more involved? Maybe you're a dad wanting to know how to build a great relationship with your kids? Post your questions here.


  • Hello, just posting this in advance. My partner is really struggling with becoming a dad. We have a 13 month old son Gabe. We're young(ish) parents: I was 19 when I gave birth and my partner was 22. We both work.
    My partner has never been very hands-on with Gabe, he loves him to bits deep down, but he finds him very stressful and gets depressed about being a dad so young. Even though he still goes out, and I do the childcare, he says he feels guilty about going out, but if he stays in, he ends up either ignoring Gabe or getting angry with him and shouting. He says he just doesn't enjoy being with him in any way.
    I don't know what to do. He obviously loves him as sometimes he is great at playing with him. But it only takes Gabe to throw a mini-tantrum and my partner is shouting at him again and getting angry with him.
    I don't know what to do - I don't want Gabe to grow up being scared of his dad.
    Is there anything I can do to help him enjoy being a dad? Since I have started working he has been a bit better but is going downhill again.

  • Hi Rob,
    Is there any chance of improving paternity leave? My husb would have loved to have more time at home with our newborns - even unpaid. But I know for some dads it's impossible to take even the statutory amount since they don't get paid when they're off.
    I just wondered whether your organisation was trying to get it changed, and also whether/why you think it's important.
  • Hello. I've just logged on some am ready to answer questions.

    On paternity leave - we (ie us at the Fatherhood Institute) think that it is really important. If Dad is around in the few months after a baby arrives, it helps the father the bond with the baby, learn the parenting skills that both mother and father need to pick up, and it is also a great support fro the mother. There is good evidence that, for example, if the father is able to be involved in the first few weeks, those mothers who intend to breast feed are more likely to still be breastfeeding after 6 weeks.

    The UK has almost the smallest allowance for paternity leave in Europe so we do want to change that. The Commission for Euality and Human Rights has proposed something along these lines and political parties are beginning to take it seriously. So we could get some progress in this.
  • My husband seems to spend more time on his xbox or computer than he does with me and our baby, I have spoken to him about it and he just ignores me or gets defensive How can i get him more involved. Also before I had my daughter he was always saying I'll do this with the baby etc but he never has he always said he'd read her a bedtime story and put her to bed but he never has I always say would you like to do it or would you like to feed her but he says no I like to watch you do it any ideas thanks
  • Hi Rob
    I have 4 weeks left of my pregnancy for our first baby and hope to have my partner in with me at the birth. The only problem is he seems to be more nervous than me about it . What can I do to reassure him that he will be fine? Are there any tips you can give him to support me during the labour?
    Thanks in advance.
  • Hi Tiger Lilly

    I have two children, 7 and 4 years old, and I still remember the work it took me to come to terms with being a father. Just getting my head around all the things in my life which needed to change if I was going to live up to the new job of being a Dad. I don't think we ever stop getting used to it, because as children get older, they present new challenges as they do different things for the first time.

    I do remember that the first two years of being parents was definitely the most difficult time of my life, and when my wife and I fell out with each other, it was often because first child was doing something (tantrum etc...) that we didn't understand. Had never seen before in our adult lives.

    The thing which made the biggest difference to me when our first was small was when I spent time on my own with him. It completely changed the way I felt about him. I was nervous about whether I could cope with him without my wife being there (or my mother, or her mohter or father). And after I got through the first afternoon without either of us coming to any harm, I got a huge amount of confidence. I realised that before then I had been wondering if I was going to be any good at being a Dad.

    I think this happens to a lot of fathers, mainly because in the first few hours of the baby's life, (and during the pregnancy) it is the mother who is really hands on nurturing the child. Dad's need to develop their own confidence about being a father.

    It also helped me to talk to other Fathers about the challenges of having a small person in the house. There are more opportunities for mothers to do this - NCT coffee mornings etc... I would to see more opportunities for fathers to talk to each other about being a Dad.

    The last thing which helped was getting some baby sitting and being able to go out with my wife on our own. We even went away for a few days when her parents had our first born for the weekend. That really cheered me up.

    I hope this helps.

  • Hi Rob
    A bit of a strange one really. I'm nearly 14 weeks pregnant and my husband and I were trying for 5 months. We both desperately wanted a baby, at times him more than me.
    Now i'm pregnant I guess I expected him to be a little more sympathetic to what I was feeling. We had a good chat last week and seem to have resolved our issues and I told him how I felt but for some reason certain things seem more acceptable now i'm pregnant. Before I would be sick and he would be holding my hair, looking after me, getting water etc, with my morning sickness he just left me too it, didn't even ask if I was ok. I just wonder if you can shed some light as to why some men act like this, does it suddenly become more acceptable to be poorly or is a case of he just doesn't understand how I feel?
    It's hard as he does say "how are you" but I try not to go "well apart from back ache, feel sick etc etc" and go on and moan but apart from that how else do I help him understand how I feel.
    Any light you can shed would be much appreicated, I really want him to be involved and understand how I feel without moaning all the time!
  • Hi First baby

    Love the photo.

    As I said to Tiger Lilly, I found time alone with our first baby changed the whole way I felt about being a Dad. I got confident about being able to do it. And I also found that our baby started to like me a lot more - ie he would choose to sit with me rather than his mother. That made me feel really good.

    I think it is important to avoid falling into a pattern where Dad assumes that the mother is relly the one who is in charge of the baby and he just has to help out when required. Much better for both parents to feel responsible.

    How about going out with your friends for a few hours and leaving Dad with the baby? Even better if it's bed time. Then ne will need to actually get involved in the hands on care.
  • Hi info addict

    I love your question. I was really really nervous about how I would cope with being in the room for the delivery. I thought I would either do something stupid, or faint, or get abuse thrown at me from my wife in the middle of her contractions.

    In fact the staff helped me to feel like I was an important part of the process ,which really helped, and I was totally delighted when the baby came out.

    Is he going to ante-natal classes with you? Has he talked to other Dads who were there at the birth?

    It might help if he understand show important it is to you to have his support and encouragement during the delivery. Dad's are at risk of feeling like a spare part unless they have a job to do. It might be good to agree with him what you want him to be doing for you when he is in there. A man often needs a mission to feel like he is in the right place at the right time.
  • Hi Emma

    Pregnancy involves massive amounts of work going on in the mohter's body. A father will see the bump as it gets bigger, but really has to exercise his imagination to understand how it feels for the mother. So I would not avoid telling him how you are feeling. I think he needs to know because he won't be able to guess it all.

    My experience was that I learnt that, being a man, I wanted to feel like I could actually help whereas with some problems a mother does not necesarily need help so much as someone to demonstrate that they understand the problem. It could be that because there's no practical soultion for morning sickness, he feels unable to do anything. If he understands that the process becomes more bearable for you if you know that he understands what you are going through, then he might feel more useful and be able to listen more.

    Lastly - a man doesn't always know what to do unless a mother tells him. and then he is very willing to help. So if you do think that having a cup of tea made for you would just make the afternoon go a little better, you should definitely ask him to do it. He'll feel good about being able to help.

    Hope this is useful and good luck.

  • Can I ask you a question?

    I want to find out how much partners who are expecting their first baby have talked to each other about how they will share the parenting. Who will go to work, who will stay at home, Whether you each do a bit of each?

    We fell into a pattern of me going to work full time and my wife looking after the baby full time. I don't know why that happened except that the way maternity and paternity leave works, there's an assumption that this would probably be the case, at least for the first year.

    After our first year, we had established a pattern where I was the main breadwinner and my wife was the main carer. That probably works for some people but in our case it left my wife feeling isolated and me feeling like an absent Dad.

    And it took a big readjustment to overturn that state of affairs. I took a year off work, and my wife went into full time studying. And now we are just figuring out how we can each do a bit of breadwinning and a bit of childcaring.

    I wish now that we had talked it through much better before the first baby arrived.
  • Rob
    Thank you so much, I guess I didn't want to turn into a nag but as you say he wont' know how I feel.

    Thanks again, this has been a really good webchat. It's so easy to focus on the mums but it's so important dads don't feel left out.
  • We've now reached 1pm so no more questions please. Many thanks to all those who took part in this chat - and a big thanks too to Rob for taking the time to be with us today.

    Visit for more info.

    [Modified by: webeditor on June 15, 2009 01:04 PM]

  • Thank you for your helpful response. I will definitely try to get him to have more time alone with our toddler. He has never had this, as his mother has always been around to help.

    We didn't think about who would look after our baby fulltime either and the job fell to me while my partner went back to work full time (though he works nights, so has a lot of time with our little one). After 11 months i was seriously fed up and got a part time job which I love. I definitely think things have been better since I've been working. I can't imagine being a full time mother for 6 years like my mother was.
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