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Nanny state's fatherly help

PUBLISHED: 07:19 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

LORNA MARSH

Controversy raged yesterday over government information packs advising prospective and new fathers not to have affairs and to praise their children - produced at a cost of £50,000 to taxpayers.

Controversy raged yesterday over government information packs advising prospective and new fathers not to have affairs and to praise their children - produced at a cost of £50,000 to taxpayers.

The Dad Pack, launched yesterday, is illustrated with cartoons and proffers advice to fathers-to-be, such as "bite your lip, not your partner, when she is ratty".

Other tips include: "Shop, clean, decorate. When knacke-red, try not to say 'who is having this baby, you or me?'"

In a section on the birth, fathers are encouraged to take a "water spray to keep her cool - a water pistol is less effective but can lighten the atmosphere" and attend parenting classes "even if they hum, sit on bean bags and burn smelly candles".

Celebrity comments litter the guide and an unabashed section on intimacy tells dads not to pressure their partners into sex too soon after birth, ending with: "Don't have an affair."

The Department for Education and Skills funded half the cost of the packs, with the rest met by sales. The packs cost £2.45 each and more than 10,000 copies have been bought by children's centres, nurseries and hospitals to be distributed to new and prospective dads to meet government guidance which requires them to provide effective support to dads.

Children's minister Beverley Hughes said: "Fathers need the same skills and knowledge that we have traditionally expected mothers to have."

But Norman Wells, the director of Family and Youth Concern, called the packs "patronising".

"The advice against fathers engaging in an affair during the pregnancy of their wife or partner - as if it might be acceptable at any other time - is quite extraordinary."

Father-of-twoJack O'Sullivan, author of the pack and co-founder of Fathers Direct, pointed out the pack included a card detailing five ways to save a child's life.

He said it included a warning against having affairs because "people do stupid things when they are under a lot of pressure".

"We want to give men more options of being close with their partner, without going off and having a fling," he said.

"Maybe men particularly need sex in the stressful period around childbirth. What we are trying to say is that we should not treat this desire among men as selfish. We should take it seriously."


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