“Any d*** can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a dad”: group work for fathers

Lucas, Sian E., Mirza, Nughmana and Westwood, Joanne Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7560-1391 (2021) “Any d*** can make a baby, but it takes a real man to be a dad”: group work for fathers. Qualitative Social Work, 20 (3). pp. 718-737. ISSN 1473-3250

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020909431


This article contributes to debates about fathers in social work by examining a group work intervention for fathers in Scotland. We present findings from observations of the ‘dad’s group’ and interviews with seven fathers and staff members. Participating in the dad’s group was found to be an expanded perception and expression of masculinity and fatherhood. The group provided a platform for the men to define and challenge understandings of fatherhood in which they developed a sense of expertise and self-belief as individuals and as fathers. We provide examples of the way that the men manoeuvre against societal barriers, in the context of disadvantage, unemployment and persistent mental health difficulties and prevailing gendered stereotypes and allow the fluid expression of manhood through engaging with non-masculine activities. In consideration of policy and practice implications, we argue that parenting support such as group work for fathers are crucial to improve parenting skills and wellbeing and positive outcomes for children.

Acknowledgments. This research was funded by the Big Lottery. Thanks go to the men, staff and other users of the Family Centre for their willingness to participate in this project. Thanks to Andressa Gadda for her role in data collection, analysis and writing. Thank you to the reviewers for their very helpful and detailed comments.

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