Original Research Note
Breiding-Buss, H., Smith, B., & Walker, P. (2012). Solo fathers with young children and their social needs. NZ Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 15, 186- 193.
Solo fathers with young children and their social needs
Harald Breiding-Buss, Brendon Smith & Peter Walker
Father and Child Trust, New Zealand
Solo fathers are an ‘invisible’ group in society, although Census data suggests they make up almost 5% of families in New Zealand. No research other than a review of Census data in 1999 has been done on this family type in New Zealand, and there is also very little published research overseas, especially where it includes young children. This is of concern as it implies that there are a substantial number of children in New Zealand whose living circumstances we know nothing about. The Father and Child Trust concluded a study on 13 solo fathers with children 0-8 years of age, where there was little or no mother involvement. The fathers were interviewed on a range of subjects, including their parenting, issues for their children and themselves, their views on fatherhood, and the effectiveness of parenting services. The sample of solo fathers was quite young (24 on average at the time of the birth of the child), with low educational and income status, and the majority became solo fathers because of parenting failure by the children’s mothers and after state intervention. There were strong signs of low social connectedness, inconsistent parenting, depression and emotional stress, which would all contribute to the low ‘presence’ of this family type in New Zealand society. This article discusses the implications of solo fatherhood (and involved fatherhood in general) for early childhood practitioners working with families.
Key words: Fathers, parenting, single parents, childcare.
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