Fathers Talking About Fatherhood
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Tips, advice and invaluable knowledge for new parents, also for new fathers.


Emma Howard: Welcome back to Baby Talk on the Baby Channel. I am Emma Howard and today, we're talking about fatherhood. Joining me now is Jim Parton, who represents the charity Families Need Fathers. Still with us is parenting expert Tim Mungeam. I must say that you also got Josephine with you. You are Jim Parton's little girl. She is clearly needing her father, very happy to be here. Give her your mobile. Let's see how long that's interesting for. Jim Parton: She gave her my mobile. She took it. Emma Howard: She is also trying to present. Oh, she is showing great signs of - I think she is coughing. Jim Parton: She is very tired and this is an occasion and that she's going to be a big part of it I think. Emma Howard: And your talking is absolutely brilliant. Now tell me about Families Need Fathers, because I would have thought that, initially people say, oh, you're not that controversial -- superman out there. Jim Parton: We suffered a little bit of an image problem perhaps because of that. Emma Howard: Yeah. Jim Parton: But then we divorced as I want to see our children. Emma Howard: You must say, you're not divorced form Josephine's mother, you're divorced from your other - you got a 19 year-old son. Jim Parton: I've got a 19 year-old son who -- and I don't see anything like this often as I'd like, yes. Emma Howard: Is it very different being a dad second time around for you? Jim Parton: It is. Well, it is and it isn't. I mean there are things which just don't worry me, perhaps the way they did the -- I was a lot younger. I think anything worried me the first time. I think quite often older parents, they get faced by little mishaps that children get themselves into, whereas now I am not too bothered about what she does. She starts crying -- Emma Howard: You mean younger parents get faced? Jim Parton: Yes. Emma Howard: Yes. I think -- Jim Parton: No, I mean older parents get faced. Emma Howard: Alright. Jim Parton: Older first time parents. Emma Howard: Older first time parents, right, I am with you. Jim Parton: Yes. There is a difference because there is a quite tougher way, maybe a little bit overprotective. Emma Howard: I think actually just first time parents. Jim Parton: Maybe. Emma Howard: I think it's new for everybody but anyway your experience about it, I mean -- Jim Parton: Well, I am seeing as young people today, they discover the boldness of youth. Emma Howard: Okay. Jim Parton: And nothing faces them at all. Emma Howard: We're certainly seeing that here, the boldness of youth. Shall we find that mobile on the floor. Jim Parton: Yeah switch on the -- Emma Howard: He is gone under the sofa. Jim Parton: You got it? Tim Mungeam: Yeah, got it. Emma Howard: Yeah, we get to there, we go Josephine -- so your group, how is it different? Jim Parton: We're a self out group. People who join our Internet forums and they seek advice, sort of paralegal advice. They have to maintain a relationship and they hand out to wind up your ex and sort of thing. All the mine field you trade when I think break up. Emma Howard: Yeah, so there is a program on at the moment, I think perhaps a divorce spouse growing up your children. Jim Parton: Yes. It seems -- Emma Howard: I haven't seen it either. Jim Parton: One of them, I think he is brilliant. People have said, we've seen a lot and it's really a good program. It's a way to go. It's - the parents got to learn to cooperate because the child is base. Emma Howard: And putting her first, yeah, putting her -- Jim Parton: Which is very hard for parents to do on their own with the other one and leave that mike. Emma Howard: Now she is going for the one thing we got to let her touch. Jim Parton: Yeah. Emma Howard: You are a clever -- well, we will try and distract her from your mike. Let me ask Tim about groups like this, I mean it's very, very valuable running there across that legal line, which of course we have seen lately. Tim Mungeam: Yeah, I mean fantastically important. I mean really let's face it. As individuals, we are built to live in kind of communities now so. Emma Howard: Yeah. Tim Mungeam: Lots of parents often talk about centralization the feel sometimes and they think I am the only person facing this particular issue on my own versus and actually you could be living - talk to someone who is facing, faced, will face similar issues. I think the whole need for us to actually talk to each other to feel out we're not along is a really, really important profit for parents. Emma Howard: Do you think sometimes that when you've got a little child, it's a way of accessing people. They say in Britain, if you have a dog or a baby, when you walk, you talk to people the way you never did before. Tim Mungeam: You do, absolutely. Emma Howard: So you commit those neighbors that you're isolated. Tim Mungeam: It is extraordinary. Jim Parton: You do. There is a kind of -- There is new set of wariness about talking to the children because I think especially men feel this. Emma Howard: Yes. You can talk to the parents of the young children. Jim Parton: Yeah, we can. But then you sort of make eyes with the child, so they -- Emma Howard: So that is difficult in a part, men -- Jim Parton: Which are never used to be, I mean when my big boy, and he is 19, I didn't existed at all, I regret that actually, sort of incense towards the children because -- Tim, we just like children, they are fun. Tim Mungeam: Yeah, absolutely. Emma Howard: But you feel the approaching charge about the parent, it makes you as soon a suspicious person. Jim Parton: Yeah, it makes a little doggy, and -- we are not doggy. Tim Mungeam: Having said that, you know, if you see a dad, I mean I've got three boys and the littlest William. Now if I to go out with him and he said, if you are that scrupulous, you can -- a baby magnet really. Everyone talks at you. Emma Howard: Yeah. Tim Mungeam: They want to talk to the baby and more heavy. Emma Howard: And I certify, my husband points that. He takes the babies out and comes back and said, I've talked to him through the baby. Tim Mungeam: I think how the poor the baby, he needs to go out. Emma Howard: Yes, yes. There is your phone Josephine. Jim Parton: It's quite interesting second time around because first time around I was in a normal marriage, then I got divorced. This time around, I am sort of - because I've been involved with Families Need Fathers and I get constantly asked why do families need fathers. I've had to think about that and -- Emma Howard: What's been your answer after you thought about it? Jim Parton: I've got -- with this child, I mean her mother is actually terrific and it sort of -- back to mama. Emma Howard: Oh, you're one of those dads. Jim Parton: I totally wasn't the first time around. I am not one of those dads. It's just that she is fantastic and I think that passion. Emma Howard: Or maybe is it because -- Jim Parton: I am not compassionate with her about it. Emma Howard: Right. You have a girl now and you had a boy before and you think there's a bit of a difference. Jim Parton: Well, yes I do. Maybe with this girl, she is very soft and gentle most of the time whereas I seem to recall because my memory chasing that. Emma Howard: Yeah. Jim Parton: I think I used to throw him around the place and he loves it whereas if I throw her around the place, she cries. Emma Howard: Really? Jim Parton: I am having to learn to be gentle. When actually, I am a rugby player -- all that gentle. I am a gentle giant I hope but I like to throw her often down more than I actually do, yes. Emma Howard: Because I wonder if that's through the girl or the personality, it's hard to tell. Jim Parton: Who knows? Yes, yes. Emma Howard: And your reaction to your daughter's -- now we started with a question you say people ask you about do families need fathers. Why did you say that they need them too, I mean this is part of your job, you do a lot with it. Tim Mungeam: I mean I think that there is a lot of talk is there in terms of the qualities in men and women and I think that's absolutely fine, but I think there is no getting away from it. We're different and father's brain different things into parenthood. I think that it is -- Emma Howard: They are vital things. Tim Mungeam: Yeah absolutely Lots of lots vital. I mean I think that I am a dad of three boys and I think for me, the challenge to be a good role model for my boys. Now my wife is fantastic role model but I think really the onus is on me to show them the kind of man that they can grow up to be. Emma Howard: I think that is modern psychological thinking now, isn't it? Tim Mungeam: Yeah. Emma Howard: From the age of four, little boys look around the nearest man hopefully, that usually daddy and start to think what? That's actually what I am going to be and that's my role model. Tim Mungeam: I think the challenge is you are a role model, and the question is are you a good one or a bad one essentially and I think a lot of men, it's kind of a wake up call, isn't it? When you first -- you're going to become a dad and what kind of role model I am going to be, am I mature enough and what -- Emma Howard: You can't deny one of being one there. I think a lot of men use as wake up call, lot of people kind of think, oh, they are young children, they won't notice, but they will, won't they? Tim Mungeam: I was certain. I mean I am very much -- get stuck straightway as a dad, you know being involved informed dads who breaks the mode. I mean I think there is a little bit this kind of couch maybe Jim's talked a little bit about, the mom as the primary care often and lot of antenatal -- very mammy like, they're quite rightly so. But now I can remember being a dad who an expectant dad, first I mean I was sitting in the corner of the scan room and I like kind of felt a little bit out of the picture really. Emma Howard: And there people when you kind of invited to be there. Tim Mungeam: Yeah, absolutely. Emma Howard: -- when you're separated. Tim Mungeam: So then you got to kind of overcome these social issues, there is the parent, the mother and toddler -- we now call it by a parent to toddlers but there are few dads there. And it's about getting out there and getting involved. Jim Parton: It carries on all threat -- we find at families need fathers, that give information about parent evenings and so and so. Emma Howard: Really. So they really are isolated. Jim Parton: So and you're isolated to get quite sort of stop you at the school at times. Tim Mungeam: Yeah, that's the challenge. I have a -- it's important to be a breaking a mode that you know to get in -- Jim Parton: A change in the culture is needed. Tim Mungeam: Yeah, get out of this. Also I think you want to show people around that you are standing up proud to be a dad. You haven't got a kind of checking your masculinity, the -- Emma Howard: No, in fact definitely he is changing. But I think that the challenge is that and the fathers that you met in different ways, who are now separated from the families don't live with the mother and the -- usually lives with a child and you want to still be that dad. How do you go about it? You have to accept for dialog with the school and say, listen to this child actually. Jim Parton: Yes, you do. I mean there was one guy actually I was just talking to yesterday had exactly this problem. The schools also say, no, we can't sort of handle all this bureaucracy. Actually a very simple solution which annoyed him because he didn't really see, why he has to do it but his wife was to give him a whole lot of -- Emma Howard: Right. So he was -- Jim Parton: Now he gets all the information he needs. Emma Howard: So his point was nicer. Jim Parton: Yeah. Emma Howard: Because you got to watch now such things happen. Tim Mungeam: That's in the phone, talked it. Jim Parton: There was a point we were making about role models. Emma Howard: Yes. Jim Parton: I do think girls need their role models too. It's a point which isn't often made. Emma Howard: Yes, yes. Jim Parton: You know boys need to learn how to be men from men. Emma Howard: What do you think little girls get from the men? Jim Parton: Well, I am still learning because she is going to be my first girl. Emma Howard: It's a fabulous learning journey for you. Jim Parton: But I think they learn the unconditional love of a man and Ryan, who is the - that's American ambassador, politician and civil rights person, he said something similar to that. Girls what learn from their fathers is unconditional love from a man, so they don't sort of fall for the first boy who says, I love you, you know, they know what the real thing is. So then that -- Emma Howard: Very valuable. We are happy about -- Jim Parton: Research finding is that girls do far better if they've got stable home background with a dad involved. Emma Howard: That's right. Yes, I've heard that little girls are -- and that's a game between two, she is very happy. She is happy enough to want to explore, like that watch is the joy. Jim Parton: She loves that watch. Emma Howard: Anything bleeping. So tell me that what are the main problems that dads are coming to with - is it simple as access or has it gone beyond that? Jim Parton: It's pretty much access or contact as we turn -- there is just conflict, how do you get around the conflict and it's sometimes it means going to school but quite often it's being a bit clever at matting them, it stresses you to - we know of your ex and make it feel less. I think it's a competition over the children where people do feel sort of slightly threatened by the love of the children after the other parent, which they shouldn't. Emma Howard: Is this hoping of jealousy we're not prepared for when children come along, jealousy of the other partner and if your relationship is broken down, I suppose that becomes kind of blown up and out of proportion. How hope there is it really to as you said early to stop sort of waring with each other and put the child first? Jim Parton: Well, I think you take some huge act of unselfishness. We are all human and not all of us are -- Emma Howard: Yeah. Some of these are capable on certain days and not on other. Jim Parton: Some people, you know, they carry on their war forever and other people have two or three years of - what I think a little bit stranger than they, constantly meeting -- and holiday together, I think that's something to -- Emma Howard: Yes. Jim Parton: With our new families. Emma Howard: Yes. But that is the shape of lots of modern families, the step families and relationships breakdown and you firmly want children have step brothers and sisters. It's a kind of you know -- Jim Parton: I've had a really interesting opinion here. Emma Howard: Have you - she found the paper weight. Look at her. Tim Mungeam: I think the reason is that I mean they've always - the families always been a changing landscape, I mean even when there was the kind of the families who stay together and I mean there are all sorts of things which was going on the background. But you know I think essentially messy. Life is a messy business, isn't it? Doesn't always -even things that same on the surface to be very not straightforward, actually in most things and all sort of things. Emma Howard: That's very like this conversation, isn't it? Tim Mungeam: Exactly. Emma Howard: How is she? Tim Mungeam: It's challenging. Emma Howard: So can we all keep quiet, oh not it's gone now. She cried when it was there. Jim Parton: It's very warm in here, really. Emma Howard: You're right, yes. And demonstrating what them is, but the point you are making is a very good one. There was -- I think, I don't know whether one of you had written that some -- the children have the right to at continuing and loving relationship with both parents. Jim Parton: Yeah. Emma Howard: How do you get both parents to just keep that in mind, that's quite hard to do, isn't it? Jim Parton: It's very hard. There are new initiatives about which are about diffusing the whole stresses, family break down. Emma Howard: Do you think she will come to me for a minute so we can see you talking. Jim Parton: Yes. Emma Howard: Will you come to me straightly. Hello so we can see your daddy talking. Jim Parton: She is got straight at your microphone. Emma Howard: She has got straight for my microphone, hasn't she? And she is taken it off. So you was saying, I shall wave it for her, yes. Jim Parton: But now there are new initiatives about, some couple from abroad some -- in this country which are about getting parents to knocking the heads rather than -- Emma Howard: And then this one? Jim Parton: A program on Channel 4, which we were talking about earlier. Emma Howard: Yes, which is how to divorce without screwing up -- Jim Parton: But there is very little on the ground, that's the trouble. You're not there in terms of these causes for people who -- more parents go for them but then it is not there, they are not available or they cause a lot of money. Emma Howard: Yes, indeed. Jim Parton: Wise people don't have a lot of money especially when they are breaking up because that's an expensive time. Emma Howard: Yes, sort of all comes at the worst time. Well, thank you for groups like you. Thank you for coming and talking to us. We will break up before your lovely girl Josephine -- I am going to steel her away, you are a peach. Thank you and -- do you want to help me Josephine? Oh, not she get back to daddy. Jim Parton: She did very well. Emma Howard: Yeah, she did brilliantly. Thank you very much indeed now. Thanks to everybody who is being with us today. Remember, if any felt about any of the issues raised today, you want to get in touch with any other baby or parenting related questions, we'd love to hear from you. You can call us on 0-905-028-0090 and leave us a voice mail, that's 0-905-028-0090 or you can send us a text message, just text the word 'BABY', plus your message to 82540. 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