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What My Father Means To Me: 1

First up in our Father's Day Series is a contribution from Joan McAlpine, journalist and newly elected SNP MSP for the South of Scotland.  See her award-winning blog at http://joanmcalpine.typepad.com/


"My father James Campbell McAlpine will be 80 this year and is certainly one of the most inspiring figures in my life. Although very much a man's man with interests in boating, fishing and engineering, he had three daughters. He treated us all as he would have his sons, encouraging us to follow our dreams and be all we could be.

We spent a great deal of time with him at weekends on the boat he restored himself - he taught us how to fish and his skills in this area provided us with a rich source of protein during our student years. My youngest sister has Down's Syndrome and he continues to play an important part in caring for her along with my mother Esther.  Dad was passionate about Scottish history, culture and politics. He followed the news and so is the reason I became a journalist as well as a representative of the Scottish National Party.  He was so proud when Alex Salmond won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament and said he never though he would live to see this. 

I very much hope I can play a part in delivering independence for him and the others of his generation who argued for Scotland's cause when the odds seemed stacked against them. And of course I hope that I can be an advocate for hard-working, decent people like my dad and help make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous place for everyone."


Welcome to the weekly newsletter

For those of you receiving it for the first time, can I explain that this newsletter will contain all the items posted on the new FNF Scotland web site during the preceding week. 

We hope that the items that are added to the web site will be of broad interest, and intend to bring you riveting research references, scintillating comment on parenting and family law, and hot-off-the-press news of what's happening in the world of Families Need Fathers.  On weeks when none of these things are happening (or we're on holiday) your Monday morning in-box will be just a little less exciting.

As next week includes Father's Day, look out for our special feature - What My Father Means To Me - plus news of events in Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

And for those people reading this on the web site and wanting to receive the newsletter - just add your email to the subscribe box in the left hand column.

Ian Maxwell, FNF Scotland National Development Manager


Parenting Apart

Families Need Fathers Scotland is working with Relationships Scotland and local family mediation services in Glasgow and Hamilton to encourage more fathers to attend Parenting Apart sessions. 

These are 3-hour information sessions held in morning or evening for groups of mothers and fathers, with lots of useful information about how to cope with separation and build a positive future for your children. 

Each session includes information on how to talk to your children about separation, the effects on children at various ages and stages and how to deal with less than ideal situations.  A charge is made for some sessions, but subsidised places are available.

Forthcoming dates are as follows:

Hamilton groups hosted by Family Mediation South Lanarkshire - call 01698 421 333 or email parentingapart@familysupport.org.uk to book a space:

Monday, 11 July at 18:00
Friday, 15 July at 10:00
Monday, 12 September at 18:00
Friday, 16 September at 10:00
Monday, 21 November at 18:00
Friday, 25 November at 10:00

Glasgow groups hosted by Family Mediation West - call 0141 332 2731 to book a space:

Monday, 13 June at 18:00
Tuesday, 14 June at 11:00
Tuesday, 23 August at 18:00
Wednesday, 24 August at 11:00
Tuesday, 25 October at 11:00
Thursday, 27 October at 18:00


Scottish Family Study Ignores Fathers

Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) is a significant source of information about family life in Scotland.  But the publication of the most recent set of results from year five highlights the fact that a key dimension is missing from this cohort study of the lives of 14,000 children growing up in Scotland.

For instance, in the GUS report on change in early childhood and the impact of significant events, the section on separation includes information on whether mothers re-partner, and on whether the likelihood of separaton is higher amongst mothers who are younger, have no qualifications, are cohabiting, or when the birth had not been planned.  None of this information is presented for the fathers in these families. In a table headed "Characteristics of Parents", only the mother's details appear.

Growing Up in Scotland is an extremely important piece of government funded research, which will be used to plan services for parents and children for decades to come.  Families Need Fathers Scotland is concerned that this study is missing the chance to explore the influence of fathers and how they contribute to the upbringing of their children. 

With 11% of the families in the GUS study experiencing parental separation in the first five years of their lives, and parental separation significantly associated with a higher likelihood of income poverty and poor maternal mental health, we need to consider the whole picture, including fathers,  in order to find the best ways of imporoving outcomes for these children.

Families Need Fathers Scotland will contact the GUS organisers to discuss whether fathers, particularly those not living with their children, could be considered more in future publications.


How the law views fathers in Scotland

Janys Scott speaking at Glasgow Art ClubAt a well-attended event organised to mark the first year of work by the Families Need Fathers office in Scotland and the success of the Glagow FNF Branch, Janys Scott QC delivered a presentation on the changes in the way fathers have been viewed in Scottish family law. 

Her own recent cases include the successful challenge to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 on human rights grounds (Principal Reporter v K).  This December 2010 decision now requires courts and children's hearings to read that legislation in a different way in respect of unmarried fathers without parental rights who have established family life with their children.

Her discussion of decisions since Lord Dunpark's very negatve 1986 decision to award custody to a mother and refuse the father access in Porchetta v Porchetta illustrated the positive direction law for fathers has taken over the last 25 years. 

A father's value is now more fully recognised and the terminology is less negative in the Scottish courts in cases involving contact and residence, although her presentation and the discussion afterwards revealed that there are still a wide range of legal and social issues to be resolved.  Fathers from Glasgow FNF group gave their own examples of difficulty in seeing or maintaining contact with their children.

Text of the presentation is now available, and film of the event will be uploaded soon.