Time to Rethink Archaic Ideas of Masculinity and Fatherhood

Kevin Brazant, London Met Academic Mentor and University Teaching Fellow discusses his recent work changing mindsets around masculinity, fatherhood, and beyond.

Date: 20 February 2023

According to recent research data as reported by the Guardian, fathers in the UK are now more involved in care duties in the family home, with data suggesting that this has gone up by a third since the pandemic. Fathers are increasingly working from home and striving for better work life balances. As a result, many are seeking better legislation and flexible working policies to suit family demands.  

Current challenges for men as fathers and care givers. 

As encouraging as this is, Kevin explains that very little is known about the experiences of men and fathers as care givers, “The Covid 19 pandemic caused us to all grind to a halt and pause for thought. Equimundo: the Centre for Masculinities and Social Justice recently shared a report into the organisations, academics and professionals invested in men as care givers, titled Who cares about America’s Male Care Givers? Laying the Groundwork for a National Strategy to Support Fathers. This report raises questions about how men as fathers are responding to uncertainty and the multitude of challenges facing today’s families”  

The challenges, Kevin suggests, include the current cost of living crisis, and soaring inflation rates, and readjusting to life following the covid 19 pandemic.  “Now more than ever, we need to gain a better understanding of how families are traversing this difficult terrain” 

As a father and Challenge Champ on the London Met Lab: Empowering London initiative this is a social cause close to Kevin’s heart. “I have been fortunate to support research projects by organisations that are committed to improving outcomes for children by enabling fathers as male care givers and hearing the voices of fathers and understanding their experiences, these are key to this process.” 

“I have proudly been working with the community research organisation Centric and The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) on the initiative ‘Daddies Voices.’ This initiative is funded by Impact on Urban Health as part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and has come at a time of huge change for families nationally, with recent research suggesting a monumental culture shift in care duties as a result of the Covid 19 outbreak. The traditional archetype of the ‘bread winner’ is no longer tenable, and these issues continue to hide in plain sight, with some men buckling under the social pressure to meet societal expectations, resulting in increased acute mental health problems with men three times more likely to take their own lives.” 

Kevin’s work aims to change current narratives and help achieve gender parity, especially in matters such as childcare duties. The key element to this change is education. “My research project ‘Promoting Positive Father Involvement’ consisted of a course programme delivered with social work students, and newly qualified practitioners in the UK and USA. The initiative applied a coaching and Problem Based Learning (PBL) methodology that supports the critical reflection of father involvement as part of practice. This has also been adopted as part of London Met’s Social Work undergraduate and postgraduate courses.” 

Kevin has seen further success, with the North East London Teaching Partnership (NELTP) adopting his methodology in a bid to improve Social Work practice. 

Looking to the future, Kevin hopes that research and supporting lectures continues to shine a light on the issues facing men through education and inspires students. “Enabling the next generation of professionals to support men and fathers, particularly, men in crisis, is an under-resourced area of professional development. I personally wish to live in a world where all professionals are effective in supporting fathers in co-parenting, following separation and divorce. This has become a key challenge for me, since identifying the issue as part of supporting the ‘Daddies Voices’ forum. Teaching professionals to identify help-seeking behaviours in men facing challenges is pivotal.”  

Kevin will be sharing his work as part of an upcoming webinar titled ‘The Many Faces of Fatherhood’ as part of the men’s Mental Health Series, taking place on Tuesday 21 February at 1pm. 

Kevin Brazant