June 14 2013
It is hard to ignore the ubiquitous reminders that Sunday, 16th June, is Father's Day in many countries. As with most annually celebrated events, Father's Day is engulfed in a wave of commercialisation that threatens to obscure its true significance. Although it is undoubtedly important to recognise the role of fathers, perhaps the day should be less about celebrating and more about ensuring that we really understand the vital role fathers play in children's lives. After all, research shows that engaged fathers have a positive influence on their children. Educational success, better social development, and higher self-esteem are some of the documented effects on children who have dads involved in their everyday life.
Understanding this, policymakers have tried to increase the involvement of fathers by adapting leave policies after childbirth. As illustrated in the country profiles on the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC), many EU countries have implemented parental leave policies that allow both mother and father to take time off from work to look after children. Despite policy changes, however, mothers still take advantage of parental leave more than fathers. This is unfortunate.