Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Families Commission barking up the wrong tree again

The Families Commission is calling for Paid Parental Leave for fathers. A survey due to be released today paints a glowing picture of fatherhood and modern day paternal involvement, but, according to the Commission, even greater 'bonding' with newborns is required.

It is commendable that many fathers in 2009 participate in the day to day care of their children to a greater degree than in past times. I am a big fan of fatherhood. But the extra fathering is not shared equitably across the board.

A few decades ago men may not have routinely attended births, fed babies and changed nappies. But they did routinely support their families by working and putting a roof over their heads.

In 1973 only 7.6 percent of families with dependent children had an absent parent. Today around 28 percent are headed by a single parent, usually a female.

In 2008, more than 26,000 mothers received Paid Parental Leave.

In the same year over 6,000 received the DPB as first time mothers aged 28 or less. Add in those older and those having another child and the number doubles.

So probably as many as one in five new babies is not being financially supported by their father (except through Child Support). Not such a glowing picture.

And while the survey finds that Maori and Pacific fathers were the most devoted, Maori and Pacific fathers are also the least likely to fulfil the role of breadwinner. Of the 6,196 first time mothers (aged 28 or less) who went on the DPB in 2008, 43 percent were Maori and 12 percent were Pacific. Assuming most, but not all, of the fathers of their children fall into the same ethnic group, Maori are extremely over-represented.

(Of course there will be mothers claiming the DPB with partners who are very involved but as this is illegal it is impossible to quantify how many.)

So, Families Commission, what about a trade off?

Paid Parental Leave for fathers who stick around, but no DPB - at least not as we know it now. If you are serious about encouraging active and enduring fathering getting rid of the DPB would be the single-most significant step you could advocate.



Anonymous said...

Why do we have a Families Commission. It is as irrelevant as a Ministry for Climate Change!

baxter said...

Bill English borrows $250 million a week part of which goes to pay for this stupid commission comprising old Liabour bludging Hacks like Gregory Fontaine and Kim Workman and there expensive so called surveys and research, and occasional junkets.

Anonymous said...

Another quango that should disappear and Fortuine sacked.

JC said...

A good start would be to refuse the DPB to every mother who refuses to name the father of her baby.. no named father no DPB or adoption procedures instituted.