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Britain's Missing Dads - join in the debate

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Eamonn Walsh | 13:52 UK time, Monday, 17 January 2011

Are actively-involved dads becoming an endangered species in some parts of Britain?

Panorama meets the "superdad" who can't remember all his kids' names; the government's "poverty tsar" Frank Field says there are just too many feckless fathers.

Britain's Missing Dads examines why many men are losing contact with their children and asks what can be done to keep them in the picture.

Reporter Declan Lawn has been given access to a ground-breaking project in south London that might have found the answer.

We welcome your thoughts on the programme. Please use this forum to leave a comment.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Leave a message with your comment on Panorama: Britain's Missing Dads on this forum.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    When is ther going to be justice for fathers? I am completely heartbroken

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    What about all the fathers like myself who are prevented from being able to play a role in our children's care and development by the unjust courts of this country.
    I was successful in getting my daughter returned to her home, to then have her taken away again by the abducting mother with the full support of the English courts. All this after the Italian High Court ruled that she was illegally abducted and as such suffered significant harm. The courts and CAFCASS of this country need to assess the true impact on our children. The MP's, Judges, and legal profession should hold their heads in shame for allowing this continued harm to our children.
    The leading case in Leave to Remove is Payne v Payne and uses guidance that is now FORTY YEARS old.
    Even though leading judges have acknowledged that this guidance now needs reviewing nothing has or is being done.
    CAFCASS a failing organization say my daughter is happier and more content with her father, and then recommend that she be allowed to live thousands of miles away from her father in another country.
    In the words of Sir Bob Geldof this is nothing short of "State Sponsored Kidnap".

    To the producers of the BBC making programs critising individual parents when the so called justice system is failing our children on a massive scale. when is this going to be highlighted?
    Please contact me if you want to do what is right and exposed the true failings of the courts on our children and society as a whole.

    To all the left behind parents dont give up, our children will one day know the truth about this shameful law.

  • Comment number 7.

    Whilst I agree that children should know who their father is and their roots, I must hasten to bring to your attention fathers, like my son, who regularly through the c.s.a. supports his daughter. He has also made five appearances in court at the cost of £5000.00 for access to his daughter which the judge has always granted, but only for the mother of his child to stick two fingers up at him after each appearance and states that he will never see his daughter again. How sole distroying is that. Nevermind the fathers that will never be bothered to see their child, where is the help for devastated fathers who once they are out of the courtroom know instantly that the childs mother gets away with it everytime and has the help of LEGAL AID no matter how many times they bounce in and out of these courtrooms. It would be more beneficial to do a programme on fathers that do care and find the right help that they deserve and forget about the no-hopers.

  • Comment number 8.

    This program has not been screened yet but no doubt it's going to promote the governments pathetic and half hearted attempt at reforming the current system. It's about time the BBC did something pro-active and exposed the current system for what it is, a complete archaic sham! No doubt the BBC will give absent father's another battering tonight!

  • Comment number 9.

    Haven't seen the program yet but if there is 1 thing that I know is that the system and the family court is totally bias in favour of mums. I do not know any "missing dad" but i'm sure they exist. But I do know 4 dads that after divorce haven't been able to see their kids. No matter how many times they take their ex wife to court for breaking time and time again the courts contact order, the ex wife keeps preventing the child to have a relationship with dad. Lets give panorama a chance, lets see if they show the all picture.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is a tragedy of ineffective family breakdown suppport in the UK. The family courts employ the adversarial system which often fails to meet the needs of the whole family. The courts often fail to address such issues as unreasonable behaviour from warring parents due to personality disorders, mental health deficiencies or just bloody-mindedness.
    There is still the assumption that most men are abusers, and most women are vistims of abuse. The reality is that either men or women can abuse their responsibilities as parents to further their own interests without thought for how it affects their children.
    These days, the social services are more often than not, staffed by women who are inclined to be sympathetic to women, and thus are more likely to believe false accusations about men made by vindictive mothers. This then scares off men from pursuing their right to family life. All in all, it is a very sad state of affairs, and indicates the decline of traditional family life in Bristish society.
    I haven't yet seen the Panorama report. I suspect it will focus on irresponsible parenting amongst the ignorant disadvantaged sectors of a south London community. This is a separate issue to what I'm addressing. I'm focussing on a nationwide problem for men who have tried their best to be responsible, faithfull parents but have been marginalised by unreasonable ex-partners supported by an ineffective legal process and poor public welfare services.

  • Comment number 11.

    My son has also been granted access to his daughter only for the childs mother to tell him to stick the court order he is back to court this wednesday and no doubt she will not even turn up , when is something going to be done about feckless mothers who always have the upper hand.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is all well and good but what about actually thinking if they can support their children before they lie down with them? All these mothers are interested in are getting the CSA money each month. They just want a sperm and money donor. The programme should focus on the excellent dads out there who want to be more actively involved with their children but their bitter and twisted ex-wives use the children as a tool against them. So perhaps instead of labelling all fathers as 'feckless' perhaps the programme should look at 'meal ticket' mothers.

  • Comment number 13.

    ONE SIDED AGAIN...........TIME TO GET THE VIEWS OF THE FATHERS WHO HAVE TO FIGHT THE SYSTEM TO GET THEIR CHILDRENS BASIC RIGHTS.......EQUALITY IS NOT IN THE FAMILY COURTS SYSTEM.

    WHY HASN'T THE THIS PROGRAMME GOT A ACTIVE ABSENT FATHER WHO IS FIGHTING TO GET TO SEE HIS CHILDREN.

    I HAVE THREE CHILDREN, TWO WHO LIVE WITH ME HALF THE WEEK AND THE THIRD WHO I SEE FOR 8 HOURS A WEEK, I HAVE NO RIGHTS TO SAY ANYTHING

    A SICK ONE SIDED PROGRAMME SUPPORTING THE SICK ONE SIDED SEXIST SYSTEM.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    Where is the programme for mothers who dont let the fathers see their children, for no reason wot so ever. My fiance has just got custody of his daughter, and he also has a son who he has been trying to see for 5 years. Why do those women think they have the right to use their children as a weapon againist the fathers. They would quite happily take the clothes, money Etc but why not let the father into their childrens life when the father is the most influential person in a childs life (FACT) What about those fathers who just get past from pillar to post just because thier name isnt on the birth certifcate, and the reason its not on their is because the mother says so. Wheres the programme on helping the fathers that actually do care and want to be in there childs life?

  • Comment number 16.

    AND NOTHING ABOUT THE CHILDS RIGHT

  • Comment number 17.

    I spent 3 years going through the courts trying to gain access to my children from a ex marriage, but everytime I got close to actually seeing the children my ex wife would move, and I would have to start the process again in a different part of the country. After three years I wrote to the court and told them what a stupid system it was that they had no powers in being able to stop the ex wife from moving as it was damaging the children especially since all where under 10 and that I was also withdrawing my application as it was also costing the tax payer thousands in legal fees.

    I have found the system is designed to give the woman all the rights not the man even if he is the biological father and listed on the birth certificate.

  • Comment number 18.

    i have two grand children i cant see because mother wont allow, my son also cannot get contact she just refuses. even if we go to the school the mother has to give her consent. where is the support. She just collects benefit

  • Comment number 19.

    I am in agreement with the previous statements. I have spent 1000's for myself to see my children. There is no support for the Fathers who want to see their children. The courts are on the side of the Mothers. Every time something happens between my ex and myself, I have to re-open the case with my solicitors and it costs. Money I should be spending on my children. My son wants to live with me, but I don't stand a chance in him being here.
    .

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yet another program that only shows one side of the problem.

    What about showing the mothers that refuse to give fathers any access to children after a divorce, then spread rumours like, "I think he may have been doing something to them", even when completely untrue.

    I lost my career because my ex decided this was the best way to stop me having any access, and went from £25000 a year in 1990 to £9500 in 2010. I had difficulty paying bills, let alone maintenance, and as for contact I have recently found out she destroyed any letters I sent to my children or any they sent to me.

    Is that the actions of a caring mother?

    How about another program showing the other side of the problems, not just the governments or mothers.

  • Comment number 22.

    How about the unjustice is fathers who can't see their kids even when they have a court order and pay child support. My ex is not letting me see my kids and I can't afford another long winded court battle. She on the other hand can ignore the courts and collect the child support and there is nothing I can do.
    Are Panaroma going to tell the other side of the story?? I have a new partner and because we have been honest and declared we are living together we have lost nearly £500pm in tax credits and working tax credits. It makes financial sense for these young couples to say they are not together.

  • Comment number 23.

    Once again a totally biased program, the tories are back and lets start blaming societies ill on single parents.

    MANY fathers are denied access by a bised court system and women that are encouraged to kick the father out to get more money, but does the BBC approach that side of the story??? no!!! it would rather sensationlise a story by only showing one small part of a larger problem

    But what should we expect from rich high salaried excutives and tv producers who probably return home to their comfortable homes and families every night!

    Shame on you BBC

  • Comment number 24.

    About time you now did a programme about the truth behind the system! Todays program is just part of the problem! Now do a program exposing the system preventing dad's from seeing their kids, exposing the courts and cafcass for what they really are. Pound to a penny you won't as it would be so negative for all the politicians! If you want the truth, proven cases of system failure, you can find me and the rest of the guys from our group through this blog!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    How can fathers be involved in thier childrens life when the mother gets more benefits without them? If the father works the mother will lose income, what incentive is that! The father gives a lot in the childs developement and i have looked after my son for weeks when my wife has been away, his face lights up when he see's me. Keith needs to get a backbone and face up to his responsability's, he is a coward and gives fathers a bad name, I would make him work to give something back to the taxpayer who pays to look after his children.

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with darrenalbie where are the fathers that are fighting to see there children but the system is stopping them.

    One sided journalism again.

    Instead of bashing fathers all the time why doesnt the BBC do a proper job and find out all sides before giving a one sided biased view, yes some fathers unfortunately dont want anything to do with their children but the majority of us do and we fight against the one sided system that favours the mothers.

    All fathers who have been disgusted by this tabloid journalism contact the tv watchdog and make a complaint as I am doing.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    As I expected this programme is fudging in the traditional sense of denial. Family law in this country is plainly reckless. The law fails to properly examine the consequences of its proglamation and deal with its manipulation. The reporter needs to examine his social and class orientation to examine how ostracisation through conflict or behavioural factors whereby women exploit their children through a process of attrition and manipulation of the law. Moreover, it is blatantly offensive to make near sociopathic labels such as feckless.

  • Comment number 29.

    Panorama, shame on you!! Not a single word about how the family court are stopping thousands of good dads to be dads. I hope someone reads this comments, which almost 100% of them are saying the same thing. REFORM FAMILY LAW NOW!

  • Comment number 30.

    It is high time this government stopped talking and started doing when it comes to families. There are plenty of men out there who love their children dearly and want to be with them. I am fortunate enough to see my daughter, but there are plenty of men out there who deserve to see their children. In addition to this the Welfare Reform cannot come soon enough, the government pays way too much money to single parents and if they want to make cut backs then its high time they did it. Perhaps people would work harder at their relationships (within reason) if they werent incentivised to leave

  • Comment number 31.

    actually i cant see why we bother with this anyway, the BBC will just ignore all these points as usual as its not in their interests to not tow the govt line when it comes to the money they will get by being good chaps who do as they are told

  • Comment number 32.

    Like many others i am a Father, who doesnt get to see my daughter.

    I feel the programe was unfair and treated all Dads, even those who are not in a familiy as feckless fathers.

    Clearly having read the posts there are many like me, who contribute to our chilrens lives, an want to see our children, only to be prevented buy an out of touch and out of date courts system, which in my veiw and experiance NEVER sees the Fathers rights.

    As long as the mother is happy, then the court is happy.

    Obviousley if the Father doenst provide, or share in the care of his child THROUGH HIS CHOICE then they live with the conciquances.

    There are mother out there who miss treat their children, and still the courts take no action!

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm fed up of listening to this effecting young, unemployed mothers and fathers...I've brought my son up on my own since birth. His father has seen him 3 times in 6 years. I work 3 jobs, have a mortgage, run a home, run a car and have a clever well balanced boy. I recieve no help off the father and limited tax credits. This programme missed a fantastic opportunity to actually ask these feckless fathers wether they be young, old, working or not why they choose to stay away from the children they helped create. It could of emphasised the fathers role in a childs life instead of consentrating on political and finanical issues.
    I also have a male friend who has had a long hard battle just to see his little girl. It has left him bankrupt and totally depressed with the family law courts so i understand both sides of this arguement.

  • Comment number 34.

    my granddaughters father gave up his job so he would not have to pay me any maintanance as his daughter lives with me i am her guardian so he is on the dole and i get 5 pound a week wow,i work full time .he thought it was to much to give me 39 pounds a week and to make it worse me as a tax payer now pays his rent and his council tax so please tell me where the justice is in that, fathers for justice i agree with they are men who want to be in there kids lives and then u get the bums that just keep going and getting girld pregnant and we the tax payer pay for it all,they should be made to work and not keep sowin the seed for others to pay

  • Comment number 35.

    The System says that Mums are always good parents, while Dads have to prove it, and even then they will only see their kids a few hours every 15 days... as long as the mum agrees, of course.

  • Comment number 36.

    Having actually watched the program it appeared to concentrate on fathers who are on benefits and the resultant reasons for their "absence".
    What is more worrying and should be discussed for debate by a programme such as this is the bias against fathers. For separated fathers, our society is biased towards the mother being the "carer" and the father being the "earner". This is now greatly outdated and while the issues of absent fathers not fulfilling their role has been largely adressed by the introduction of the CSA there is also a responsability of socitey to protect the child's rights to see thier father (perhaps enforcing the parental responsibilities as done in otehr countries) which would also go some way to balance out the current maternal bias. As an example, when looking at a UK passport application form it states they "do not normally accept" passport applications from the father where the mother is the primary carer!
    Discuss.....

  • Comment number 37.

    Reading the comments here there are plenty of fathers who are trying to see thier children and cannot because the mother does not want them too. What right does a mother have to stop a father seeing their kids if they have done nothing wrong. The social and judicial systems in this country are out dated, discriminative and give no support to the father. "Mr Cameron you are father" do something for fathers who want to see their children and have done nothing wrong!

  • Comment number 38.

    I think it is clear by the feedback on here that a programme about father who want to support their children, but who are prevented by meal ticket mother would of been more balanced.
    The programme, should of follwed this one on feckless to show both sides of the arguement

  • Comment number 39.

    Just watched Panorama and felt compelled to cooment on here as this programme seems to highlight a number of issues:

    1/ Single female parents are clearly better off financially with the father absent from their childrens lives

    2/ There are clearly some fathers who couldnt care less about being around their children and would prefer to keep well away.

    Neither of the above seem to care about the effect this will have on their own children and are clearly being helped by the current state system.

    However there are a huge number of fathers out there who wish to be in their childrens lives, but are pushed out by mothers who are helped in doing this by the current legal system.
    Fathers in this position are having to push themselves into financial ruin in trying to gain access to their children, by going down the current legal route
    I know as i have been there myself.

    Until the government change the legal system in which the only winners are solicitors and lawyers and make BOTH parents equally responsible for the child or children they have BOTH created then things will never change, but wil get continually worse

  • Comment number 40.

    Interesting how not one Mum has posted a comment here. They are happy with their council houses, their benefits, and making live as difficult as possible to their ex partners.

  • Comment number 41.

    Well for an alleged educated man Mr Lawn you have no clue how it works in the real world, I have 2 daughters and like many others on here, I have been paying the dreaded CSA £500 per month to my ex-wife, my so called ex-wife stopped me from seeing my daughters, I took her to court 3 times and promptly won my case for access, but as others on here, she stuck 2 fingers upto the court system and has still refused me access, the last time I spent time with my 2 daughters was Christmas 7 years ago, I think if my babies every hour of every day, so please don't tar all us absent father's, it's not our choice to to be absent, it's the money grabbing women, so can you in future please do more research into your chosen subject,

    One other point, when I was 15 yr old at school, whilst in a Careers class, a female student told the teacher that when she left school she was going to get pregnant so the council would give her a house and the dole would have to pay her untill her child reached 16 year old, true to her word this girl did get pregnant, and now has 5 children to 3 different men, and still has her council house and money from the government, she has never worked, she's now 43yr old, she knew how to work the system, like every other it's easy to spread your legs, and 9 months later get your goose to lay that golden egg every day for 16 years.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi I have just finnished watching tonights panorama and I am in the same sort of situation as some of the girls in the program. I am a single working mum aged 27 and I have a boy of 3 1/2 years old his dad has never once seen him because we spilt up when I was 5mnths pregnant, He has never wanted to see him and I have never stopped him seeing him either. My son's father is 35 he didnt want the responsability but he has been paying £5 a week since my son was 2 up until just recently his benifits have stopped and he's now not paying a penny. What can us women do when men go A.W.O.L?? The C.S.A arnt much help to us when we need them where has the system gone wrong for all the single mothers out there??

  • Comment number 43.

    There is never anything said about the farthers that have there kids and the mothers dont even want anything to do with them talk about sexist . Not only that talk about had outs the father gets nothing and we are expected to work and look after kids i do both so if the fathers that have there kids full time can manage to find work why should mothers be able to stop home . THERE VIS NO JUSTICE in this country .

  • Comment number 44.

    Parental alienation syndrome seems to be more of a problem than absent fathers. How about a program about that and how the family courts supports that alienation?

  • Comment number 45.

    As a complaint : I find this programme ignorant and dismissive of the issues of sexual discrimination, and bias shown by the social system surrounding the mother of any child and against men - I am classed as an absent parent - however I have legal joint custody and my son is with me 47% of the time yet am not significant enough to hold equitable status with my estranged abusive wife- and she is ably abetted by organisations such as social services ( biased against men) CAFCASS ( biased against men) the courts and the medical services - all of which I have had to prove my legal responsiblity before they will even tell me that they have had contact with my son - a better story might be about the women who use the system to gain ( extort) from fathers - after all the less cotact means more money for the mother.

  • Comment number 46.

    I wonder if this will be high-lighted in anyway via the news or any other program. You can see from ALL the posts on here, the outrage against your program and the Father's WHO DO CARE FOR THEIR CHILDREN and we have no support what so ever.

  • Comment number 47.

    The reporter Declan Lawn interviews his own daughters for this programme and seeks out their views about what is important about their father - ie him. This is a serious topic that deserved serious attention, not this sloppy sentimental segment of him and his daughters. Who in the BBC agreed this home video segment ? If he wanted to include an alternative family/child perspective - use someone else's family and ensure there is some level of objectivity. The families he interviewed were all from poorer backgrounds than him and his family - surely highly relevant. Declan Lawn is in work - these young families - mums and dads are generally not. I hope the BBC doesn't allow such lazy, sentimental journalism in future - Mr Lawn keep your home videos for private viewing in future.

  • Comment number 48.

    You can not blame tories for that!! We are here today thanks to Labour, no doubts. Forgot Harriet Harman already??

  • Comment number 49.

    I am speaking for a lot of farther's out there that want to be a dad but and be apart of the chilrens life's but can not because of the mother refuses to let them be any part of there childs lives. My son has been trying to see his second child for 2 years, has been paying to the csa for his child. The woman in question has not put him on the birth cartificate and she does not want my son to be in the childs life or hers. The csa have asked her twice to havce a dna test twice and she has not answered them so they are returning payments my son has paid, he does not want this and would love to be involved with his daughter. The mother moves about a lot so people can not find her and my son is in bits sometimes worrying about his daughter, moving around can'nt be good for the child. Please do not tar with the same brush as to the men that do not care about there children, with the men that would give anything to love and hold there children and be a farther to them. The laws in ths country has to change as to parents with children, it's has to stop being on the mothers side all the time farther's are supposed to have right's too but not in this country.

  • Comment number 50.

    I watched the show this evening. No one will actually just say it how it is. No one will tell the truth.

    Total emotionally blind society and systems.

    If they are correct and employment rates are contributing then it only means men are especially only good for what they can "do" and not who they are. Human "doings" not Human "beings". These are messages from childhood. Your Mothers, Your Fathers. A child couldn't care a less how much money Daddy has or where he lives. Just "being" with Daddy and being loved is important. But what do 3rd generation parents know about fathers? What do they know about intimacy and emotional connection? What does the majority of the UK know about relationships. Its Potty. These men are emotionally bankrupt and basically have NOTHING TO GIVE THAT A CHILD NEEDS. Do any of the mothers? probably not. The problem is that we learn from our own parents and compulsively repeat history because we deny the pain of our own past. We don't save our own children by attempting to regain our OWN amputated feelings and emotions.

    The "Dad's" who are "victims" and there are plenty, using COURTS???? are just totally emotionally clueless. Justice for fathers? Just listen to your hearts you big winging infantile babies and GROW UP. Most fathers are so immature, emotionally. If a woman already has kids why would she want another one. She doesn't she wants a STRONG MAN, which means there it is get ready for it...FEELING AND EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT and that is WHAT CHILDREN NEED. Love and WHERE IS IT. LOST. WHERE IS THE LOVE ????

  • Comment number 51.

    The mere content of this programme further highlights our outdated social system!

    Sectors of society feel the need to label and constantly seek change in an individual, rather than society as a whole.

    I am a single parent to my daughter, I have studied for the last five years and have a further two years to complete at University. I cook, clean, decorate, lay floor tiles, lay laminate, and participate actively in sport and provide a stable home for my daughter whereby she is encouraged to learn and be creative.

    So far I have managed to shake off the stigma attributed to myself for being a single, was teenage parent, yet I did not anticipate another challenge - Society now enabling the public to believe that children without fathers may face worse conditions than those with fathers.

    Consider the female who is domestically abused by her partner, the father of her children... it is statistically proven that women will not or find it extremely difficult to remove themselves from said situations due to their children. This programme may further hinder women in similar situations, they face the risk of now facing more stigma, not only as a single parent, deviating away from outdated social norms but also for removing the father from the family home.

    Perhaps those families with fathers, are living within the 'happily ever after veneer' all is well, yet all is in reality miserable.

    Suggestion : Radical Social Change...a hint of feminism?? Yes Please!!

  • Comment number 52.

    mmmm watched a bit of this programe,missing some points. I am a father of 5,I live in Plymouth,my ex wife and children are in Birkenhead,I dont drive and my only form of transport is a push bike.
    My ex is on benefits,and 4 years ago,the CSA became involved,I work as a health care assistant at my local hospitalearning £16,000 a year but after the CSA take there court order I live on a minimum payment set 4 years ago,which hasnt changed to allow for inflation,after paying rent ant council tax,TV licence,and telephone (needed for being on call at work) I am left with C.£70 a week to live on.To see my kids in Birkenhead minimum train fare needed is about £100 return,I have tried to explain to my youngest daughter why I cant get to see her,(after some hurtful comments on Facebook).
    Point being this is not some 20 year old feckless father this is a 50 year old man,who would love to see his kids,but the state is preventing this,by the way none of the money paid gets to the kids,it all goes into the governments pocket to pay for my ex's benifits,so the kids think I dont pay anything towards there upbringing

  • Comment number 53.

    I am the wife of a man who is desparate to see his children, we have borrowed £10,000 to fight his ex in court... but just like one of the other comments say... she is on LEGAL AID and as soon as agreements were made in court, in front of her solicitor outside she said forget it! Her solicitor said she was being un-reasonable but because she was the resident parent she could not be imprisoned for ignoring a court order so she got away with it time and time again... we got to the point that we could no longer afford going through this whole process, if we had continued we probably would have lost the roof over our heads and over our baby boy (as he was at the time)... 3 years on we have not see my husbands children and every day it rips my husband to pieces... christmas and birthdays all are very difficult for him... she gets money each month... not just the obligatory £5 she gets plenty from us for the children... if it wasnt for me working we wouldnt be able to pay what we do... why is it right that the absent father and his wife have to pay for her when she can easily got to work since all her children are neary in secondary school! Our children havent even started school and I have had to go back to work otherwise we would have nothing! Why is it all these mums can ignor court orders and get away with it??? Why is it that the fathers who do care and do not have a problem making a contribution to their children are never investigated and helped by this government? The CSA penalise these absent fathers to the point that in past years many have committed suicide because they are expected to pay more than they can afford and then cant afford to live themselves... these mothers then sit on their lorrels and reap the reward for being lazy!
    When are things going to be looked at in context instead of thinking that the single mother is the victim all the time???

  • Comment number 54.

    I am quite aware that many fathers would like to see their children more, however i feel this programme under a title that promised at last some realistic outlook, did nothing but yet again slam single mums, and took the benefit line. It did not address the single mums that work and fathers that refuse all responsibility, it did not address the huge failings in the CSA. It only touched on accountability of fathers. No question was asked where would these children be, if the mothers 'chose' the same route as a lot of fathers?
    A very poorly done programme with such vast potential, to highlight so much

  • Comment number 55.

    Respectfully to the fathers that do take an active roll, I'd like to mention another point of view. Part of the program, showed some mums in a bad light.
    My son is nearly 9. I have done nothing except encourage his father to see him since he was born. He has never paid me a penny towards his upbringing. CSA can't find him cause hes clever enough to move every 6 months so he can't get caught.
    I live in Devon and when ever I return to London which is where he is based, I let him know we're about. Sometimes he sees him, sometimes he doesn't.
    Unfortunately, through all of my perseverance, my son has finally realised he's dad's just no good.
    It's sad really, cause I wish so much that it had been different.
    As for talking about benefits, I work part time, but sorry, have to claim as I get no maintenance.
    Good luck to all you dads that do make a difference to your kids life.

  • Comment number 56.

    where was the flip side what about the dads that want to see their kids but are stopped mainly by vindictive ex's .....try living in their shoes they pay for their kids but are still not allowed to see them .....stop showing the baby mahcines who can't be arsed to work but bring a child into the world every year ,try doing a programme about how hard it is for dads who want to see their kids and are not married to their exs and they have the upper hand and stop them seeing the kids to be vindictive try showing the battle they have with the courts and the judicial system ........solicitors who charged a fortune and all they want to do is see their kids COME ON PANORAMA MAKE A STAND SHOW THE OTHER SIDE

  • Comment number 57.

    I am absolutely furious at tonight's programme. At no stage was the responsibility for being pregnant raised with the mothers, all of whom have complete control of their fertility by using the pill. Instead an extremely sexist and narrow view is taken of young fathers, no mention is made of the family courts or why some of the mothers had children with multiple "feckless" fathers. I wonder how many single mothers there would be if they didn't get benefits and had to provide financial support for their children themselves?

    I am now a single father who has had to spend £45,000 ensuring I can see my children - 2 years on and I am still having to fight. Fathers and mothers should take responsibility for their children equally, but the arguements put forward tonight are: women care for the children and men have to pay for them - this isn't what equality is about - is it?


  • Comment number 58.

    This is a huge issue for me and many fathers, alll tooo often men are held to ransom by their estranged partners, wives, girlfriends. A child is created by two people and not just the mother, so the question I ask is, why is it automatically the womens right to have the children? To me this is completely wrong and based on a very antiquated old world view of men. Men in the early twentieth century were viewed as the bread winners, they didn't cook, clean, change nappies etc etc. However it's the 21st century men are far more capable of taking care of their children in all the ways a women can. I talk from experience as a full time single dad myself. The law needs to be changed, women have for far to long held the trump card over fathers who are willing and able to be part of their childrens lives. I say a radical change in the way the law works, giving men more equal rights to their children. Women who use their children as a way to extort the public purse should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 59.

    After submitting my post and reading others posted on here it seems to me that there ARE CLEARLY PLENTY OF FATHERS OUT THERE WANTING A FAIRER SYSTEM.
    When will the BBC/Panorama highlight this?????
    When will the Government understand and do something about this????
    When will CAFFCASS and local government push and argue for a fairer system??????
    Instead of spending millions in supporting mothers who choose to force a father from their childrens life, why not turn the tables and make those who do this take a benefits reduction. then we will se how many absent fathers are out there, as im sure if this was to happen then they would be dragged back to see their children by the financial restraint on so called mothers.
    This programme questions why there are absent fathers.....its simple as unless you have thousands of pounds to spend on court cases then you have no chance of seeing your children if thats what the mother wishes, but you will still be pursued by the CSA to pay financially.

    The BBC need to concentrate on the good fathers out there instead of tarring all with the same brush!


  • Comment number 60.

    On watching this episode i found its very one sided. So BBC found one man who cannot control himself and fathered several children that he cant remember names of.

    What the BBC has missed is all the wonderful fathers who do their very best for any child they do bring into the world. There are two sides to a coin. Mothers have just as much of an impact on the father's involvement! Mothers can very easily tell the father to stay away, even when the father wants to be there. And women are just as responsible for getting pregnant, there are contraceptives for both sexes!

    OR, the parents who have a baby quite happily but things just get too much for them and force the couple to split, and sometimes forcing the father away. Not all fathers can afford to fight for their kids.

    I think panorama should do an episode on the fathers who don't get a say, and the women who just want a baby, no matter who they hurt along the way.

    Or at least look at every possible angle.

    I work with mums and dads day in, day out, and its as much the mothers fault as it is the fathers.

  • Comment number 61.

    I was frankly horrified to hear the comments of that gradmother. "I don't think a fathers role is that important anymore". It's that kind of backwards thinking that has created a broken Britain.

    I am currently in the process of fighting for my children through the courts and i am having all the accusations thrown my way , i tried killing the kids .. threatened to remove them from the country etc. My ex partner also named another man on my sons birth cert. because she said putting my name on their would give me to many rights.

    Single mums aren't the victims all of the time , did you see the look on the face of that single mum when she was told that a fathers role wasn't all about money .... she has been brought up to think otherwise.

    When the powers where shifted to mothers and taken away from the fathers thats whn this country started failing and became broken. Mother have far too much power and try to play god with it.

    "Mother is god in the eyes of a child" - it's just a saying ... it doesn't actually mean you are a god.

  • Comment number 62.

    This is a sick "pay per view" system. If the dad has money, most probably he will see his kids or will be able to hire a good family lawyer (if such thing exists). But if the dad is unemployed or in low income, just forget it... unless you want your heart to be stripped, broken, and spat on by your ex and the family court.

  • Comment number 63.

    What about doing the other side of this story - why do so many children not have contact with their fathers - because the Justice System does not allow it. Do a programme on the number of fathers who are desperate to see the kids but are denied by angry women. When they go to court they are treated like criminals. They can be accused of violence and then when they are investigated and this is not proven, nothing happens to the mother who made the claims. In the meantime, whilst investigations are ongoing, they cannot see their children. It is estimated that one in three fathers involved in complicated custody cases eventually give up. These fathers deserve to have their stories told too. Come on Panorama - give these fathers a voice. They deserve a voice far more than the people shown in your programme tonight. Whilst my son is denied access to his children, i am denied access to my grandchildren.

  • Comment number 64.

    well would like to say what about a program about us the single dads or is the bbc like most other ppl and dont reconise that we exist just like the goverment and would like to say that the girl on the program how got 250.00 a week get more a month than me and i am in the army and have to deploy on operations for six month at a time and pay all the house bills so were is the justise

  • Comment number 65.

    FECKLESS FATHERS!?! WHAT ABOUT FECKLESS MOTHERS?????
    I was a SINGLE dad up until 19 months ago. My ex wife wants nothing to do with her 3 children, 1 of which (my eldest son) has severe epilepsy and global development delay aged 5, my daughter has just turned 4 and my other son is 3 and he also has global development delay. I was absolutly disgusted to see this programme based on how bad us dads are. Maybe the government and other on lookers should look a bit harder into society because their is plenty of so called mothers out there that are just as feckless as some dads. I found this extremely SEXIST and personally offensive. Us dads dont get any credit for the good that we do and i think that its high time that politicans and other SEXIST on lookers search a bit harder coz BAD MUMS are out their too. Bad mums that dont pay a penny towards their children, bad mums that dont bother sending birthday or xmas cards. WAKE UP and SMELL THE COFFEE feckless mums are out their too!

  • Comment number 66.

    A message for Boscombe.....I am a single mother and have posted on here. Please read my initial post and I hope you won't tarnish us all the same brush!!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Throughout the whole debate, no one has mentioned the role of church/places of worship. By this I don't mean "God" I mean complete nuclear families meeting together, supporting each other and developing positive communities and networks with each other. These friendships are so valuable in keeping families together and creating positive influences on children within those families.

  • Comment number 68.

    The first thing to say is that mothers are also guilty of the things that fathers are accused of!! In my case i had to tell my daughters father to leave when she was only a baby for reasons to do with drink along with other things. He then does a manner of things which result in a non molestation order, doesnt see my daughter for ages but when it suits him he then takes me to court for access. To cut a long story short the courts were terrible along with caffcass and he ends up getting an order to have her every other weekend but doesnt stick to it from the start. His contact is then when it suits him but to get the order varied so i dont have the threat over my head if i dare say "no" to his demands i have to find money i dont have to go back to court, it is not possible. He pays nothing for her yet hides everything behind his wife, the C.S.A are useless and he continues to live a very very comfortable lifestyle while his daughter has never had a little long weekend break etc etc, has a mum who worked her socks off to breaking point and is constantly stressed out about how to make ends meet and has debt not to mention the state (tax payers) are at the moment paying for his daughter when he is more than finacially capable of supporting her.
    This country is so quick to judge the single parent and say you have to go back to work when the child is 7( i WANT to be at work and had a full time job that i thought would be for life) but has it really thought about people like me who dont have the support structure for when the child is ill, has sleep problems etc. I like many dont have people around to look after my daughter when she is ill(and she was off school alot with illness) at one point she was in school for a few weeks then off again etc etc , what employer is going to put up with somebody having that much time off?? Why does this country not put the same pressure on the absent parent that doesnt look after their child nor provide for them??

  • Comment number 69.

    Very often it is the mother who wants no involvement from the father. As summed up, the benefits are higher without the father around and the more kids they have, the greater the benefits. Attitudes and behaviour will never change until the welfare system and family courts are reformed. They should pay welfare for the first child only if single and if married or there is father involvement, a presumption of 50/50 custody of any children. This would allow the woman to educate herself and find work and not be a burden on the state. As it stands, there is no incentive for the mother to find work and a perverse incentive to displace the father.

  • Comment number 70.

    After just watching what I can only say was a totally one sided program, when can we expect the BBC to show the other side???
    My story is quite simple. I am a divorced man, I divorced her for unreasonable behavior, having an affair normally counts as unreasonable! Obviously the court order made me pay maintenance for my 2 children and being a member of the armed forces I have no choice but to pay it or they would take it straight from my pay. In the mean time I met someone and we got married. She has a son from her previous marriage (an abusive marriage,but she still encourages her son to see his dad), we went to the CSA because my circumstances had changed, when all of a sudden my children no longer want to see me! This now means I dont see them for over 52 nights a year therefore where my money should of gone down it has infact gone up!
    There has been no reason given to why my children dont want to see me. I have no way of getting to see or talk to them without going through my ex wife, and she just blocks it. Even their mobile phone numbers have been changed and I have not been given them. My maintenance has not changed, yet for me to go through the court system to see them will cost me thousands of pounds that I just dont have.When are they going to look at and penalise the women who stop their children seeing their fathers to benefit their purses due to them getting more money the less nights the children see their fathers, afterall thats how the CSA works!

    Would love to hear from someone who has had succesful outcome from a similar problem as I am pulling my hair out. How would any of you like to be in the position of either being posted abroad or even worse sent on operations in Afghanistan without being able to tell your children face to face, all because your ex has poisoned their minds just for her own fiancial gains.

  • Comment number 71.

    I can only echo many of the above comments. While I have no gripe about the programme being screened - there are undoubtedly too many fathers who take no part or responsibility in their children's lives - there are also thousands and thousands of fathers who are denied a real chance to be part of their children's upbringing because the child's mother calls all the shots and excludes them. Devastatingly for me, I am sadly one of those.
    My former partner decided just 13 weeks after my daughter was born that she no longer wanted a life with me - because she didn't wish me spending time with my older children from my first marriage. She walked out with our baby and for almost two months refused to let me see her. After that, she finally relented - allowing me to see her for a total of seven hours a week. I had no option but to spend thousands of pounds raising a court case to try and see her more. The sheriff increased my access by one hour.
    I tried to negotiate with her directly and after a short period where she let me see my daughter slightly more often, during the Christmas holidays she reverted to her old self and has refused me any more time with my daughter other than those eight all too short hours.
    The system is totally and utterly screwed and biased in favour of bitter and twisted mothers who will stop at nothing to inflict pain and hurt on fathers. Women like my ex partner who do this treat their child as their personal property to use as a weapon. I beg the BBC to highlight these tragic happenings repeated all too often.
    My heart breaks every single day because my daughter was taken from me. I want to be involved in her life every bit as much as her mother; who is she, or a sheriff, to say that I should not be because I am a man.

  • Comment number 72.

    Why does the general media think that sexism is a single-sided coin? This is not specifically a "male problem" and should not be headlined as such - It's a much wider and complex issue relating to the changes in employment (and job security, wages and unemployment), equal rights (in which I agree - but it works both ways!), the benefit system and the culture it has promoted. The reason why some of these young people don't use contraception is that they have been brought up in an environment with no responsibilties (and very little consequences). We heard an "typical" lad example on contraception but equally in the females case, getting pregnant is the only way they can see a future..

    Obviously, I'm not going to do this subject matter justice in a few paragraphs of ranting - but the BBC certainly didn't either..

    Please stop this relentless sexism and de-valuing of anything non-female, clouding important issues. BBC should take a balanced view and stop undermining the role (and ambitions) of young men.

  • Comment number 73.

    Declan Lawn obviously loves his daughters but i wonder does he realise if his wife decided tomorrow that she didnt want to be married to him anymore she too could stop him seeing his children and he would have to go through the courts to fight for access.......... a feckless father ???????

  • Comment number 74.

    What a shame some of the women involved in the programme never admitted that the reason that the fathers are absent/missing is due to the mothers totally denying that the father has anything to do with their children, due to bitterness on there part. Also they have omitted naming the fathers as it is there way of punishing fathers. I have a child who will be turning 11 this year and not once have I had any contact with the child as his mother has totaly denied me any responsibilities in the matter when I tried to get legal aid to go about the court system I was getting threatening letters from her solicitors about harrasment and threatening behaviour. Also her poisonous mind would have turned the child totally against having anything to do with myself: I now have another child and again I was up against it from the start due to the relationship breaking down I was then accused by my former partner of hitting my child it took 3 years through the court system to get a reasonable amount of Access even now she is still trying to alienate myself from my child some try there best to prevent a father and child from bonding thereby preventin a proper and meaningful father/child relationship..

  • Comment number 75.

    I'd also like to point out that this program was aimed at the younger generation. My 52 year old partner still hasn't got his act together!!!
    The government do need to get new laws in, I totally agree. Men are treated badly as far as the law is concerned. However, remember us mums who do genuinly try and keep a dad involved in his kids life but it'll never be!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    #73 Sums it up completely dmd. Does not matter how much a role a father plays in his child's life or wants to, the moment the mother decides she wants him out, the legal system swings in full weight behind her.

  • Comment number 77.

    Cynthia Charles wrote -
    The "Dad's" who are "victims" and there are plenty, using COURTS???? are just totally emotionally clueless. Justice for fathers? Just listen to your hearts you big winging infantile babies and GROW UP. Most fathers are so immature, emotionally. If a woman already has kids why would she want another one. She doesn't she wants a STRONG MAN, which means there it is get ready for it...FEELING AND EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT and that is WHAT CHILDREN NEED. Love and WHERE IS IT. LOST. WHERE IS THE LOVE ????

    Is a woman who denies the father access to his children and tells lies about the father to 'give her actions further credibility' a 'feeling and emotionally intelligent' person, I do not think so. Where is her love for the children?

  • Comment number 78.

    Was that Panorama I just watched - I'm completely dumbstruck! What a load of naïve, simplified nonsense. But I suppose it achieved its real goal by making people turn on each other!

    There are good men out there battling to play a part in their children’s lives and that’s wrong, the system isn’t equitable. There are also an untold number of women, of all ages, out there doing it on their own, because to have the feckless man in their lives would only add to their problems, not alleviate them.

    In the end programmes like this aren’t really trying to highlight real problems or propose realistic solutions, it’s all just about cutting benefits and creating economic slavery.

    I have always been quite happy to pay my BBC licence fee. Although I don’t believe the courts system and the BBC should benefit from people, already living in poverty, because they don’t have a licence. However if there is much more rubbish like this appearing on the BBC the TV might very well be going out the door.

    Note to an earlier comment - I am a single parent, who lived on benefits for many years. But I now have a job, own my home and contribute to my community. So don't write us off, we may be late starters but we're just a bit busy bringing up the generation that will pay the taxes to support your retirement. Which if what I read today is right, you won't be getting till your 68. I've heard the next programme from Panorama is 'Those feckless 60 years olds, who won't take jobs as sweeps'

  • Comment number 79.

    number 78 please read my comment on 65

  • Comment number 80.

    I really looked forward to this program in the hope of hearing something that would support or give me at least a shred of hope in my current situation. However it soon became apparent that the program would not offer any answers and painted the usual stereotypical portrayal of fathers. Dads are a massively important part of a child’s life and some of the dads on the program are not worthy of such a privilege but what about those dads who are but have to fight the system.

    The program asks what could be done to tackle "feckless fathers". Lets first start by supporting those dads who want to be part of their child’s life. The support services around families are still unfairly focussed on the needs of women and not on what’s best for the children.

    Secondly the Government are happy to remind fathers of their financial responsibility for supporting their children through the CSA but completely fail to address the more important issues around contact and custody. Currently dads like me have to go through the expense of court case and legal proceedings for these rights. This becomes impossible as you still have to maintain your financial commitment to your children through the CSA while your ex partner has the luxury of legal aid.

    Perhaps if the government were to reward those dads who consistently pay towards the upbringing of their children with automatic parental responsibility and a certain level of contact we might not have so many so called “Feckless fathers”.

    A system that supports dads and not isolate and penalise them would go a long way to begin to address these issues. The children in this country need more active fathers so lets start by getting behind those who want to be involved.

  • Comment number 81.

    Why is it always assumed that single mothers are in the teens or early twenties and living off the state? I am in my 40s and have a 3 year old son and am on my own. The father left when I got pregnant through his own choice. I have NEVER claimed benefits and work full time to pay for every penny to bring up my son. I do not rely on anyone else to pay for him and am very proud of that. Single mothers are not all benefit grabbing slappers who get pregnant and then sit back and let the state pay for them!

  • Comment number 82.

    73. dmd. Spot on.

  • Comment number 83.

    This report appeared to focus on absent fathers but, it did reveal the shameful truth (that Frank Field made clear): Women and girls in the UK can easily take advantage of the welfare benefits system to gain independence and autonomy in their lives through child-rearing. In a time of economic recession, this will surely become a major problem, as more and more women opt for motherhood instead of working life.
    I've witnessed this first-hand with my own son's mother. She gained such a level of income from benefits that she refused any financial support from me when I offered it, and she then pushed me out of family life. It was only when these benefits were dramatically reduced did she accept my money.
    I think its time people were licensed for parenthood, through assessment of their fitness, based on their health and education. If they don't pass the test - take their children away for adoption to healthy COUPLES.
    The Human Rights Act is WRONG in asserting that everyone should be entitled to family life. People shouldn't be allowed to start families if they are unfit to face its responsibilities.

  • Comment number 84.

    In reply to comment 78 by Maat_ers: It is not for the fathers to be involved in the mothers lives but to be involved in the childs life and some mothers are denying fathers and child/ren that right to have there fathers involved

  • Comment number 85.

    take note panorama look at the blogs there is another programme to be made try speaking to some of the dads that are being kept away from their kids because of vindictive ex's get the balance right and show the other side......i really feel for u guys

  • Comment number 86.

    LIKE MANY FATHERS OUT THERE i WANT TO BE INVOLED IN MY CHILDRENS LIFE AND HAVE EVEN TAKEN THE MOTHER TO COURT. WHICH I WON AND GOT A CONTACT ORDER WHICH THE MOTHER SOON STOPED. I WOULD LIKE PANORAMA TO DO A DOCUMENTARY ON THE FATHERS WHO WORK HARD, WANT TO SEE THERE CHILDREN AND PAY THERE CSA PAYMENTS. WHICH AS WE ALL NO CSA ONLY WORKS FOR MEN WHO HAVE GOOD JOBS AND ARE PERPERED TO PAY TOWARDS THE UPBRING OF THERE CHILDEREN ANY WAY.

  • Comment number 87.

    Maureen_Kerrigan, (post No. 81)

    I am sure you are probably typical of the majority of single mothers, and the majority of the ones I know would also fall into this category.

    But just as tonight's program failed to tell your side of the story as much as it failed to tell the side of the majority of divorced and separated fathers, it does not make for 'good television', where sensationalism reporting, even if biased and incomplete is becoming the norm.

  • Comment number 88.

    Mixed emotions about this programme as I'm confused about whether the true critique was implied at the expense of presenting a balnaced picture. The title is typical of the double standards that operate in society currently i.e. men can be outrageously slandered without recourse, yet the same standards don't apply to women. I complained about a similar editorial stance re a recent article in the Mail on Sunday which decried the myth of Daddy as Superman and criticised men for estranging themselves from their children post separation yet heralded mothers as selfless, long suffering martyrs.
    Bizarrely, there was very little critcism, in this programme, of a society that has encouraged 20 year old girls to mother three children by three different fathers (old enough to run a household yet seemingly not smart enough to grasp the notion of joint responsibility for contraception). There was no critique of their stance that the only role of men is to provide finance and if they were struggling to throw them out. Even when (in a heartbreaking aside), a little girl summoned up the courage to mention that "daddies" might have something else to offer, this rich vein wasn't explored.
    As a sign of our times this programme did very little to justify the "feckless" title. It exposed Britain for what it is, a broken society where men are being supplanted by a benefits and legal system which commoditises children and encourages women (age and class irrespective) to use children (which they consider to be their possessions) as weapons, to discard the fathers of their children at will, to block their relationships with their children and strip them of their assets rather than persist with the commitment and hard work required to make true familes work. Very, very sad and hugely worrying!

  • Comment number 89.

    It is a shame that good fathers who want to see thier children and women who work and bring up thier children on their own are being brought into defending themselves due to those who do nothing for the upbrining of their children whether it be the feckless father/mother or benefit grabbing single parent. For those self centred people who think the father has nothing to put into the life of a child they should of seen Sky news yeterday. Fathers had abducted their children and took them back to Libya. Would you say they have the right to say the mother has nothing to put into the childs life? Get a grip on reality a child is better of with the father and mother influence in their life!

  • Comment number 90.

    The programme was more balanced than i expected, but i did not expect much. Like most father's here i have been treated like a second class parent by the State and the Legal System. The BBC promotes this imbalance because it institutionally sees men and women so be so different when in fact we are all trying to do the best we can. One cannot blame woman who see the State as a better, or at least more reliable, father than the actual father. The State also does not argue and make emotional demands! The BBC have helped to make this situation culturally acceptable by its unquestioning supportive stance on single mothers. Last but not least, children do need their fathers, i know, i needed my late Dad and love him for the memories he gave me!

  • Comment number 91.

    Lets face it. Traditional values, self respect has gone and it's always the quiet ones who suffer. This country is a mess.

  • Comment number 92.

    Just watched this programme and I am not surprised that yet again all absent fathers have been grouped together as one and labelled "feckless"
    I would like to point out that not all absent fathers are feckless, some are forced out of their children's lives by the childs mother who sees her CSA payments as more important than the relationship between the father and child.
    My husband had fought for contact with his son for around 12 years now, practically through the whole life of his son.
    My husband gets contact granted by the court, but the mother of his son just stops contact whenever she feels like it.
    My husband works and pays child support, but the system being the way it is, rewards the mother for stopping contact with his father. The child support is worked out by how many days my husband sees his son and how much overnight contact they have. The fewer number of overnight stays they have the more CSA she gets, so its hardly any surprise when she stops contact to get the full amount of CSA.
    Maybe the courts should penalise these mothers who stop contact for their own financial gain. Maybe then we would see more contact between fathers and their children.
    We constantly hear the government saying they want fathers to be responsible for their children, but they do not really reinforce that in the family courts.
    We need a fairer system for the fathers who DO want to be part of their childrens lives but are not allowed by a bitter ex who just sees the child as a tool with which to hurt the father of her child, and as a meal ticket.
    Use the courts to penalise these mothers, instead of a system that allows her to stop contact at a whim and then rewards her with more money, maybe the courts should stop her benefits and CSA if she stops contact.
    I predict a huge increase in contact between absent fathers and their children if this system were to be adopted!

  • Comment number 93.

    Frank Field wants to ‘tackle the feckless fathers’, yet in spite of the anti dad introduction Panorama didn’t find many cases to support this ‘political issue’. They seemed mainly to find dads keen to be involved if they were allowed to be, and young mums - and grans - happy, and financed to get on without the involvement of dads.

    We were introduced to Brixton’s ‘dad–collecting’ St Michael’s project whose findings ‘challenge the idea that there are lots of feckless dads. Most want to be good dads.’

    Unfortunately Panorama chose not even to mention the vast numbers of dads who are prevented from spending time with their children, many of whom spend thousands of pounds – which could otherwise have been spent on the children – and many hundreds of hours preparing and presenting court cases – time that would be far better spent caring for and guiding their children, if only they were allowed to do so.

    Prevention of parents (usually dads) from having a meaningful relationship with their children, unless there is a very good, proven reason for doing so, is nothing less than domestic abuse – though as yet this form of abuse is not included in domestic abuse statistics. It is also a particularly damaging form of child abuse. If only our politicians could be brave enough to face up to this reality and take steps to make this abuse as unacceptable as any other, we would have far, far fewer ‘fatherless’ kids and society would be much healthier.

    Could it be that one of the reasons for the lack of political interest is that those dads desperately trying to be part of their children’s lives are most likely paying full child support, and that appears to be, in reality, of far more concern to Frank Field and his ilk than the father-child relationship.

    At the beginning of the programme the question was asked:
    ‘Why are so many men missing from their children’s lives?’
    Frank Field has his own political agenda, but surely Panorama was not obliged to look only for such a small part of the answer.

  • Comment number 94.

    i've been a single mum of 2 for only 11wks the father of my children spent every sat with them & 1 hr on a wednesday evening 2 help put them to bed but 4wks ago it all started 2 change as he found himself a new girlfriend he told me he had 2 start working on sats but will still c them 2 sats a mth but its now been 3wks & i've had no contact from him asking about them or no reply 2 messages i send asking if he will be seeing the children, my daughter is 3yrs old & he didnt even buy her a birthday card as he said he didnt have money but he can afford fags 4 himself, my son will be 6mths at the end of the mth. when i asked when he was going 2 start paying 4 them he said u have ur benefits this is coming from a 36old man. really dont understand how he can do this 2 them.

  • Comment number 95.

    i did feel it was a good to see i'm not the only one but they were all so young & on benefits where as i'm 28 my ex is 36 we had a 9yr relationship & we both work.

  • Comment number 96.

    There are so many fathers who have commented on here about the state of the court system and how it favours the mother. I felt incredibly let down by the system for both my daughter and myself and know so many mothers in the same boat but i also know fathers who feel this way.
    It doesnt matter if you are the mother/father the courts are failing all concerned and creating a horrible battle type enviroment for children.
    When all is said and done at the end of the day the most important thing is that the child is happy,healthy etc etc and not caught up in this horrible system. Money is mentioned alot and by me also and it is a big factor in raising a child, i may not get the right words here but why should the stress/pressure fall onto the shoulders of one person?? It took two people to bring the child into the world and if i had my way every aspect of raising a child would be split as close as possible to 50/50. Surely the best way, if the parents can no longer be together is to try to work together to create the best possible chances for the child, i tried my hardest or i could even say i tried too hard to make sure my daughter had a regular happy relationship with her father but all that did was test me to breaking point and get no results. I will say to start with due to his behaviour i was totally against him having contact that was not supervised but the court took that option away and i was too scared to go against the court order for fear of what would happen, yet i have no power to actually make him stick to it, he can come and go as he pleases. How on earth is that right??

  • Comment number 97.

    well said 81

  • Comment number 98.

    Anybody taking an interest in this debate who is interested in Father's rights, and the wider problems the issues bring, please have a look at my facebook group.

    I have devised a strategy which requires as much support as possible.

    The group is called 'Bob Geldof - please come back and lead the battle for family law reform'

    Please take a look, join, and tell anybody you know if you like the idea

  • Comment number 99.

    93; you're spot on. The reason debates like this are pointless is that as we well know the other side of the story cannot be heard as the family courts are conducted in secret; or as Bob Geldof called it in his documentary Geldof on Fathers - 'the real love that dare not speak it's name'

  • Comment number 100.

    It is impossible to cover this subject in one programme in all domains. I have been a single parent since the age of 36, worked full time, undertook professional training, went on and achieved a degree with min assistance from state. (I.e. child benefit only). I deliberately chose to remain on my own for 15 years now to ensure my children were not competing with a partner for my attention and to maintain stability. Over the years I have taken allot of stick from colleagues who believed my place was at home to look after the children as opposed to having a childminder live with us and be at work. Family who were convinced the father should be involved as much as possible and to aid this my family paid for his flights to be with his children and to visit. My ex husband was the product of a single parent family as was his mother before and his grandmother. When the children arrived he really wanted was to be a better father than his own father was and in his own way he was......he has tried to keep in contact but he had no role model, no sense of responsibility or pride in fatherhood..finances from younger days was hand to mouth so there was no surprise in his view that what he earned was his .., no clue how to communicate and he would not hear that he needed to be interested in the kids hobbies not just the kids trying to understand his.....what is so sad is my children have not benefited in any way from my choices....and what I thought was in their best interest..Did not end up that way and i discovered it all in hindsight. Ultimately I am to blame for brining children into the world where there is an abundance of social taboos..especially on single parents linked poor behaviour coupled underachieving in school, addictions, out of control to name but a few. For my children and others how does this help their self esteem? "Mum, because we live here, i am not espected to get my GCSE " my son informed me when he was in Year 9 at school. National broadcasting of their poor future social prospects is plentiful but solutions for all these children to be directed into delivering better future parents is scarce. More scarily is that Single parents will always exist (free choice to be a single parent/death/divorce/- more likely when they have not witnessed true partnership struggling unsupported in the fast lane of the rat race....All our stories we wished and wanted so much more for ourselves and our families.. So many systems need to change to benefit humanity on so many levels. It is too late for me and mine but I hope for a more considerate, less judgemental society that takes time to ensure care and love and dignity as human being is a core value not to be dismissed in any one life span. The question is how we deliver that!

 

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