Following Young Fathers: The lived experience of teenage parenting over time

About the project

The Following Fathers project grew out of a smaller study begun in 2010. This was funded under the ESRC Timescapes programme and carried out by Bren Neale (director) and Carmen Lau Clayton (Research Fellow) (details can be found on the Timescapes website2). 

The study tracked the lives of a small group of young men who were new or expectant fathers experiencing the joys and challenges of developing and sustaining a fathering role and identity. It was devised in consultation with the Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinators for Yorkshire and Humberside who, at that time, were struggling to identify and engage with young fathers and to provide appropriate support for them.

At the start of our research, very little was known about the lives or support needs of young fathers (defined as those under the age of 25, about a quarter of whom are in their teens). Our research questions are focused on finding out:

  • how fatherhood is understood and practiced by the young men in the sample
  • why they become parents at an early age
  • what values they hold about parenthood
  • what impact policy interventions or other kinds of support may have on these processes

Very little research to date has taken a dynamic approach, exploring how young men’s past experiences may impact on their current lives and future aspirations, and what barriers and enablers exist to improving their life chances, and potentially the life chances of their children. Our research is able to address these gaps in knowledge through the adoption of Qualitative Longitudinal (QL) methods, which we have combined with a participatory approach to research in which we work closely with policy and practice partners.

Project website