2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
Young fathers under 25 are particularly vulnerable and find it more difficult to assume their parental role. What can be done to value their involvement?
In Quebec, new fathers are spending more and more time with their children and are more involved in different aspects of family life. An American study even shows that new Quebec fathers are the most involved fathers in North America. This exciting reality, however, hides another less brilliant one: young fathers too often find themselves in a situation of vulnerability.
According to researcher Gilles Rondeau, young fathers (under 25) are particularly vulnerable and it is more difficult for them to assume their parental role. Moreover, if this early paternity is not chosen, it risks causing the absence of the father and arouses more neglect towards the children. The mother then often finds herself alone and this situation has important consequences for the development of the children. According to the literature consulted, the main obstacles encountered by young fathers are the following: tensions with the mother, lack of legal recognition ofpaternity, marital conflicts, financial worries, difficulties of integration into the workplace, various consumption problems, family pressure, etc. Young fathers also feel socially unrecognized, isolated and disqualified.
Disinterestedness of society
According to the research team made up of Francine Ouellet, Annie Devault, Marie-Pierre Milcent and Isabelle Laurin, society is not very interested in young people who become fathers early and is even less interested in cases at risk high paternal dropout rate (Vulnerable young fathers: life trajectories and socio-professional integration). In order to better understand this reality and to try to identify certain factors favoring paternal involvement in such a context, the four researchers interviewed young fathers who had embarked on a process of social and professional reintegration.
The researchers generally found that, for these young fathers, fatherhood was very important and that, despite frequent arguments with the mother, they made real efforts not to put their children through what they they themselves had lived. It was also noted that fatherhood gave new meaning to the existence of young fathers, gave them the desire to hold on and made them more responsible. The young fathers interviewed were supported by trained counselors who empowered them in their parenting role, gave them confidence and guided them to the resources they needed. Flexible measures andeffective work-family balance solutions have also been put in place.
Researchers also found that supporting young fathers produced interesting results and fostered father involvement. To help young fathers in a situation of vulnerability, it is often necessary to act also on their environment (poverty, employment, support for studies, financial support, psychosocial services, etc.) in such a way as to create a context favorable to their commitment to their children..
Even though numerous studies demonstrate the importance of paternal involvement in the development of children, Jean-Martin Deslauriers, social worker at the CLSC Gatineau, notes in a doctoral research that services for young parents are interested, most of the time, to the mother in order to support her, and to the father often, only, in order to prevent his abuse. The father is rarely seen as being able to make a positive contribution. The father is therefore seen as part of the problem, but not part of the solution. Mr. Deslauriers regrets that supporting young mothers who are going through difficult situations has now (and fortunately!) become a collective responsibility, while early fatherhood still too often remains an individual responsibility of the young father.
New government policies now integrate the reality of fathers, and especially young fathers (Integrated perinatal and early childhood services, etc.),but it is now long overdue for these great principles to translate into more on-the-ground services for vulnerable young fathers. For example, in 2005, only six of the twenty-nine C. L. S. C. Island of Montreal had a specific project for fathers in their action plan. It would also be desirable for new research to be carried out on vulnerable young fathers in order to better understand their trajectories.
Interesting initiatives are emerging, however, for example, the Relais-pères project. This research-action project hired four visiting fathers, in four neighborhoods of Montreal, to support, among other things, young fathers in vulnerable situations. This form of coaching by lay fathers is proving most promising.
Our society is changing rapidly and we must constantly integrate new social realities in order to better understand it and better intervene. The situation of young fathers in vulnerable situations represents a considerable, but fundamental challenge, so that more young fathers can fully play their role as new fathers.
Group for the Valorization of Paternity (RVP)
Email address: [email protected] The Regroupement pour la valorisation de la Paternité (RVP) is a group of organizations and individuals whose goal is to promote a positive view of fatherhood in order to foster paternal involvement, improve the provision of services for fathers and to doevolve the public discourse on fatherhood, while respecting the contribution of all family members.