Following Young Fathers Further is a four-year participatory, qualitative longitudinal and comparative study of the lives of young fathers (those who became a father aged 25 and under). Building on a baseline study called Following Young Fathers (2012-15; Neale et al. 2015a), which has tracked the lives of 31 young fathers, the study provides extended longitudinal insights about the parenting journeys and support needs of young fathers and their families. As a population that is often stigmatised because of their young age and gender, many face challenges in their transitions to parenthood and experience family poverty and social disadvantage. In this chapter, we present an analysis of findings generated for interviews that explored the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We examine how the lockdown impacted on the earning and caring trajectories of young fathers and their formal and informal support networks. These insights sit alongside accounts from professionals who were required to quickly adapt their support offers to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on low-income families.
This article presents analyses from an international empirical study of young fatherhood in Sweden and the UK to interrogate how welfare contexts and family policies shape young fathers’ views of parenthood. Our analyses demonstrate that despite differences in constructions of young fatherhood, whereby young parenthood is problematised in UK family policy, more so than in Sweden, young fathers in both countries express an encouraging commitment to contemporary cultural imperatives for engaged fatherhood. However, differences in welfare and parental leave systems have a clear influence on the extent to which the young men in the respective countries fulfil their parental commitments and act as local agents of change in the wider social project of gender equality. We argue that while policy processes and discourses in support of young parenthood and gender equality are currently treated as disparate concerns, their articulations with one another may instead be seen as complementary and symbiotic.