Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Good dad button?

Twitter, facebook, blogs - everyone's flittering on about buttons and badges.  And that's not just across social media. A similar thing happens in everyday life as we search for positive affirmations about our behaviour.  There is so much in the media and on people's lips about good dads, bad dads, good mums, bad mums.  And there's an awful lot of stuff going on right now about good dads and good men. 

As a fatherhood researcher, people often look to me for a nod on this.  I've written a bit about that on this blog before, but today I'm guest-posting over at the Enterprise Nation website.  Pop over and take a look.

Happy badge-hunting (wink)!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Playing dad's way

Her big eyes widen in surprised delight every time she’s lifted up high above your head. And she beams as she comes down, caught safely in your warm hands. You’re laughing and she’s laughing, and it feels good to be a dad.

Often, this ‘rough and tumble’ is seen to be a dad-thing, enjoyed by both dad and child. Encouraging risks in play - climb the tree a bit higher, balance on the wall – are the kinds of risky play that are often viewed as stereotypically ‘dad’. But many fathers want to play this way. James thought that the risky side of play was “probably what being dad’s all about” because it was something that dads often did differently to mums.

Tony, who shared the childcare of his toddler with his wife, said:“I play rough with James in a way that my wife doesn’t. Women don’t get male rough play, but male animals just enjoy - and it’s fun. It’s fun for me to throw James around and he loves it. There are ways that men play with children which are different from the way women do. And there are ways men are with children which are just different from the ways women are.”

Charlie, a full-time childcare worker with a new baby wondered whether men were more involved in the “physical play and things with children. I’m very much a rough and tumbler with Jasmine - even though she’s so tiny. And Anna (ed. his wife) to a certain degree does, but Anna’s very much more strokey, strokey, carey, carey.”

Others fathers have commented how some activities – like coffee mornings and chats – are enjoyed more by mums than by dads. And other research with fathers who take on primary childcare roles often point out how dads tend to do activities with the children that are linked to the father’s interests, like sport (Brandth & Kvande 1998, Doucet 2006).

What do you think? Do you play with your children in ways that are different to your partner? Would you rather roll around with your children or paint a picture? Is rough play a dad-thing? And does it depend on the time of day?

Add your thoughts in the comments box below.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Men's Hour: are you listening?

Men’s Hour on Radio 5 Live! Of course I was intrigued – but sceptical nonetheless. It was airing at 7.30pm on a Sunday evening. I knew none of our household (nor probably any household we knew) would be tuning in at that time. Most families would probably still be in the throes of dinner, bedtimes and are-we-ready-for-Monday-morning. Other men might be having fun or – as has also been pointed out – watching Top Gear.

And then the bigger question, of course, was whether the programme title was likely to hook any readers. As a fatherhood researcher I was alerted, and as a woman I was curious to quietly listen in to an exclusive boys’ club. A bit voyeuristic, I know….but I suspected not that many secrets were going to be aired.

Sadly, I’ve never got around to reviewing the programme and this is probably going to be the closest I ever get. Because, I have never listened to Men’s Hour! When I questioned its broadcast time, others suggested I use BBC iPlayer to catch up with it. But not only is it on at a strange time, it’s not available on iPlayer. [update: it is on iPlayer - just maybe not on sunday mornings :)]. So Men’s Hour will just have to chug along without me….But, from the reviews out there, I think my voyeurism might be better fulfilled down at the pub!

For those who think they might be free at 7.30pm on Sundays (UK time), here’s the BBC info.