Information for dads and other male carers

Information for dads and other male carers.

The relationship between fathers and their children is very important for children's development. Dads have a vital role to play in bringing up children whether they live with or apart from them.

There are various services and sources of support available for dads, stepdads and granddads throughout Oxfordshire which we have listed here.

For further information about other sources of support please contact us.

Why dads matter

The following video contains interviews in which members of the public and a fatherhood champion, Matt Buttery, explore the role of dads and why they matter.


Read video transcript

Transcript – Why Dads Matter

00.01 Introduction Music

00.03 Matt Buttery from explains why dads matter

I think Dads really matter. Dads have a unique contribution to bring to the lives of their children. Mums really matter, Dads really matter and the child really needs both parents to be involved in their lives.

00.13 Member of the public gives his opinion on what it’s like to be a dad

Children tend to confide in the mother a little bit more than the father, that’s natural but you do tend to feel a little bit left out at times

00.22 Matt Buttery from DadTalk speaking, video of a family walking along the street

So I think sometimes dads can feel slightly on the outside especially if they’re not there as the primary care giver.

00.30 Writing appears on the screen


Your child needs your attention

00.32 Matt Buttery from DadTalk speaking, video of a dad and son unpacking boxes

One of the key things is wherever possible turn your mobile off and make sure there is time during the day where you’re just one on one. We all know when someone’s distracted, when they’re talking to us they’re looking the other way or fiddling with something and I think kids pick up on that.

00.47 Two dads talk about being a dad

I always make sure that I take him to bed, to do the father thing like a story etc

It’s very important not just to be around to help create the child. I mean to be around to watch her grow to be with her spend some time with her.

01.03 Writing appears on the screen


Look for ways to spend time together …..

Maybe play a game, go for a walk or do an activity

01.11 Matt Buttery from DadTalk speaking, video of a father and daughter cooking together

Try and find once a week, once every couple of weeks find some special time one on one with your kids if you’ve got more than one child just that one on one time helps build a relationship.

01.21 Writing appears on the screen


It’s never too late to improve your relationship with your child

01.26 Matt Buttery from DadTalk explains how to rebuild a relationship with a child

If you’ve been in that situation where you think I’ve not really given as much time to my kids or maybe you’ve not seen them physically, you’ve not been with them, it’s just about recognising that like any other relationship it will take time to rebuild things. If it’s your fault that you’ve not been involved then apologise, take some time out and start the conversation by saying hey I realise I messed up, I wasn’t there for you I want to be there for you in the future.

01.49 Writing appears on the screen


Realise you can be a positive role model for your child

01.52 A man talks about fatherhood and his father

I always wanted to be like my dad because he was fairly successful and still a family man so he always had time for me to play with me and stuff like that.

02.00 A dad talks about the role of a father

You need to be a role model in everything you do, children they need their father there, what the father does the children look at it and try to copy most of those things.

02.15 Matt Buttery from DadTalk speaking, video of a father and son in a garden

It’s very easy to say no. What's very easy is to tell children off for doing things but actually catching them doing something right and saying hey well done that was really good is hugely powerful.

02.26 A young man talks about his dad

He always me the right thing to do he explains things from both angles but always leaves the choice up to myself.

02.33 Writing appears on the screen


Recognise how important you are throughout your child’s life

02.39 Matt Buttery from DadTalk about a dads role in the teenage years

I think when dads get to teenage years dads sort of feel like well I’m not needed anymore and yet the irony is teenagers really need their mums and dads the most.

02.49 A dad talks about his relationship with his son

I think he always knows he can talk to me if I sense there’s anything wrong I try and get him to come and have a sit down with me and try and get him to say what’s bothering him. You’ve got to be like that really.

02.58 A mum with her daughter talking about the role of the dad in their family

He’s the one that’s driven to Manchester at whatever time because she’s not been well or something happens and stuff like that so in our family dad plays a massive role.

03.13 Writing appears on the screen


Stay involved in your child’s school life…..

Support homework and attend parents’ evenings

03.20 A dad talking about his daughter

My daughter knows that we’re interested as parents, Mum ad Dad, in what she’s doing at school which for her gives her a psychological boost to know that her mum and dad care about every aspect of her life.

03.33 Matt Buttery from DadTalk explains about a dads role during teenage years

Whilst they’ll tell you they don’t what you involved in their lives what they’re really looking for is some help to work out “Who am I? What am I about? What is life about? What do I believe? What are my values?” I’d say it’s a really important time for dads to be involved.

03.47 Writing appears on the screen


Why do dads matter when setting boundaries?

03.50 Matt Buttery from DadTalk explains a dads role in setting boundaries

Children need to know where the line is they need to know what’s ok behaviour and what’s not ok behaviour. The danger is as men we go two ways one way is we totally abdicate and we don’t get involved at all on the other side we can be really harsh and it’s really easy for us to raise our voices and be a little bit more authoritarian “You shall do as I say!” Obviously really where we want to be is somewhere down the middle.

04.16 Writing appears on the screen


Remember your partner needs you too

04.20 Matt Buttery from DadTalk explains about children needing their dad

Whether you’re happily married with two point four children or whether it’s been an acrimonious separation and you’re living in your different households it’s important that you try and maintain a level of relationship.

04.31 Writing appears on the screen


Remember your child needs their dad

04.38 Matt Buttery from DadTalk explains the role of dads

You’re equally important, you’ve got a very different role but you’re equally as important and I think you need to try and understand what that role is and understand how it’s different and not try and be mum but try and be dad!

04.47 Writing appears on the screen


It’s never too late to improve on your relationship with your child

Recognise the positive influence you can have on your child’s life

Remember you are a role model

Becoming a dad

You can make an appointment to register your baby's birth online.

You can go along to local baby cafes with your partner for breastfeeding support.

Do you run a group for dads?

If you run a group for dads we can advertise the group (free). Just register at

Parenting support

Being a parent can be one of the most challenging jobs. All mums, dads and carers may need support from time to time to do it as well as they can and there are various sources of parenting support. Most parenting programmes/groups are mixed but there are some which are specifically for fathers.

For tips and information on how talking to your baby makes a difference visit the Dads - Talk to your Baby website.

Play and leisure

Playing with your child is great fun, helps children’s development and strengthens the relationship between parent and child. Some of the best play is completely free: water painting, scrap modelling and treasure hunts are just some ideas - the Oxfordshire Play Association can give you plenty more. Visit and look at the play resources section.


All babies and young children can get free books through Bookstart.

Non resident dads

The following video contains interviews with a non-resident dad and fatherhood champion, Matt Buttery from Dad Talk. It includes tips on keeping in touch and how to get through living apart.


Why Dads Matter video

Show transcript

00.01 Introduction Music

00.04  A father speaking and a video of him walking down a street

It was trying to get to grips and deal with the fact that someone else was taking on that parental role. Because they lived quite a long way away when we first separated it was trying to deal with the fact it was another person who was going to kind be the one who picked them up when they grazed their knees and did the stuff that, to me, was what parenting was about.

00.25 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk explains what happens when parents separate

Their parents are their first and most enduring carers and where they get that first sense of love that first sense of security and of course what’s happening is the most secure thing in their life is started to become very insecure.

00.38 Writing appears on the screen

How can I maintain contact and a good relationship with my child?

00.43 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk speaking, a video of a father and 2 children getting into a car

Try and come to some sort of agreement with your ex partner as quickly as possible in terms of setting down contact; how often you will see each other. Also try to negotiate those key events Father’s Day, will they won’t they be with you? Their Birthdays, Christmas and other key events in your calendar? Where are they going to be on those days that you negotiate.

01.06 A father explaining when he sees his children

They’ll come every other weekend for the whole weekend from Friday evening through to Sunday evening and for half the school holidays.

01.13 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk explains how to keep in touch

With Social Media you can keep in touch by Facebook, you can keep in touch by Twitter, you can keep in touch by instant messaging over text and I think it’s important you use those methods to keep in touch with your children and also those traditional methods sending a postcard, writing a letter. If you’re going somewhere, maybe you’re going somewhere with work, send them a little note from where you’ve gone and tell them what you’ve done, involve them in your life.

01.35 Writing appears on the screen


Sort out contact arrangements as quickly as possible with your ex

01.41 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk explains about compromising

I think compromise is the whole name of the game when your relationship has broken down. Essentially you’re trying to re-negotiate that relationship. Keep a level of that relationship being civil and also think about communicating effectively.

01.55 Writing appears on the screen


Make the most of your time with your children

02.01 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk speaking, video of a dad and children cooking

My advice would be to make that time special but to be as normal as possible everyday does not have to be Alton Towers, going to the fair or somewhere amazing and just to be clear love doesn’t mean gifts. I think as guys we can sometimes get into buying gifts for our kids to show them that we love them. That can be something that shows love but obviously for each individual child they’ll give and receive love in a different way.

02.26 Writing appears on the screen


Be prepared to negotiate with your ex

02.32 A dad talking about how he felt being a non-resident dad

You know you’ve both got parental responsibility you’re both the parent of that child but when you don’t live with them you feel like a lot of that power has been taken away from you so you so feel less empowered and you then start to look to fight to claw as much power as you can.

02.47 Matt Buttery from Dad Talk explains about relationships

I think the most important thing to remember is that this is a long term game. You want to stay involved in your children’s lives for the long term which may mean that there are some things you just let go or overlook. Of course as a last resort you go back to court or you go to court and you try and let a third party resolve things.

02.26 Writing appears on the screen


Accept that your relationship with your ex has to continue…  for the sake of your children

03.16 A dad reflects on nature of his relationship with his children

The nature of what we’ve worked through over the last 9 years has meant that our relationship is different and the dynamic of our relationship is different. So it’s a positive thing that’s come out of it I think.

03.28 Matt Buttery reflecting on separated dads relationships with their children

You want to spend great quality time with your kids and have lot’s of fun when you see then and let them know you love them and care for them and are interested in them and their lives and what they’re doing. Because they won’t be young for long and you want to spend this precious time with them but I think the key thing is this is a long term game and things are going to change and so you need to maintain that flexible attitude.

Separation and divorce

Family separation and divorce can be difficult and there are various sources of support and advice available for all the family from virtual contact centres to family mediation and counselling.

Oxfordshire Family Mediation (OFM) is a local charity affiliated to the national Family Mediation service who can provide mediators to help families find their own solutions when relationships break down. For more information about this and other local services including lone parent groups contact the Family Information Service or search the Family Information Services Directory.

Child maintenance

Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support parents provide for their child when they separate. It can help towards a child's everyday living costs and give them the best start in life. It is a legal requirement but many children benefit from an arrangement that their parents have agreed between themselves.  See the Child maintenance options website for more information.

Finding childcare

To look at different types of childcare to help you decide and search for childcare providers.

Paternity rights and pay

When your partner has a baby you may be entitled to paternity leave and  paternity pay.

Flexible working and time off

It may be important to change working hours to accommodate changing family circumstances. All employees can now request a change in employment hours.  This can include to work part time hours, flexi-time, job sharing, term time working and working from home among others. For further details see the working families website.

Parental leave

Parental leave is additional leave from work for employees to look after their child's welfare. This may be unpaid or paid.

Parental responsibility

Parental responsibility is a legal term and replaces the term 'custody'. The Family Rights Group has produced an advice sheet (pdf format, 100Kb) to explain this.

Financial support

If you are looking to find a job or return to work, Job Centres have a range of jobs.

Also your local children and family centre can also provide useful information

Help with paying for childcare

Video information

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