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1 July 2009 | PR 09/83

Fun time is vital for father-child relationships

Dr Kay's book, Fathering Through Sport and Leisure

Dr Kay's book, Fathering Through Sport and Leisure

The important role sport and leisure activities play in helping fathers bond with their children has until now been overlooked according to Loughborough University academic Dr Tess Kay.

Fathers are regularly criticised for avoiding the routine aspects of childcare in favour of spending ‘fun’ time with their children, but Dr Kay believes the pursuit of shared leisure activities is key in developing a long-term relationship with their offspring.

In her new book entitled Fathering Through Sport and Leisure Dr Kay, Deputy Director of the University’s Institute of Youth Sport in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), brings together researchers from the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA to highlight how these ‘fun’ activities enable fathers to establish closer relationships.

Fathering Through Sport and Leisure recognises the central role played by sport and leisure in modern day fathering and presents detailed research on what today’s fathers actually do during time spent with their children.

The traditional family unit is changing with more mothers working, more children being born outside of marriage and more biological fathers living apart from their children - yet at the same time expectations about the fathering role are rising. Alongside this, fathers themselves are increasingly expressing their entitlement to involvement in their children’s lives, with the emergence of pressure groups and high profile campaigns.

“Today’s fathers are expected to be involved parents who undertake their share of parenting responsibilities, play a full part in family life and spend time actively engaged with their children,” explains Dr Kay. 

“Men face strong tensions between the traditional roles of provider and the modern role of carer that, as fathers, they are expected to embrace and combine.

“They feel under increasing pressure to live up to these expectations and many find that sport and leisure activities provide ideal opportunities for them to support their children, get to know them better, enjoy shared interests and through this lay down the basis for life-long close relationships. 

“This is particularly relevant for fathers living outside of the family home, who are often desperate to maximise the enjoyment their children get out of the limited time they spend with them during access visits.“

Fathering Through Sport and Leisure bringstogether internationally renowned writers in sport, leisure and fathering studies and makes an important contribution to current debates about the importance of fathers being actively involved with their children. It is available to buy now from Routledge, priced £24.99. 

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For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
M: 07825 236 221
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

1. The Institute of Youth Sport is a leading research centre which draws together staff with a common interest in the welfare, education, performance and development of young people participating (or being encouraged to participate) in sport and physical education. The Institute is located within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University and is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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