Who Needs Fathers? Review: The Parents Trapped

March 31, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


One in three British children has parents who are separated: an unsurprising statistic of our times which will be explored in this three-part series Who Needs Fathers? In tonight’s opening episode, we look at two families who are coping with separation in very different ways.

One is locked in a long battle in the Family Courts, where every move comes with a court order and sometimes the police are brought in to manage the mess. The other family is determined to avoid any legal battles and deal with the divide themselves.

The parents are shown at their worst, with petty squabbles amplified at the expense of the children. The kids, who all seem secure and well-rounded, are never asked for their views and seem bemused at the presence of a film crew.

It’s clear how hard things are for fathers after they get involved with the courts. Despite having a court order to see his children, one dad is still refused access by their mum.

It becomes apparent that what’s agreed on paper may not always happen in practice. When one mum breaks the deal, the father has no one to call for help. He is reduced to tears and comes close to giving up – but the love for his offspring drives him on.

Mother’s have it hard too. They get the daily grind of getting the children ready for school and cooking dinners while the dads enjoy the fun at the weekends. One mum faces losing her house when her former husband wants to move to a different area.

Hearing both sides of each story makes it clear how children can be turned against one or one parent.

The series is being shown to mark 20 years since the passing of the Childrens Act – which puts the welfare of children paramount in situations of family breakdown and divorce.

Little information is given about the legal battles and at an hour, with only two families involved, the documentary feels over-long. With just two situations to cover, there is room for some analysis of the bigger picture.

Following a break-up simple things like taking the children for a day out or on a short holiday get very complicated. Looking at the two families it appears that being reasonable and keeping kids away from the arguments is the best course for their sake.

The second film The Right To Be Dad is on Wednesday 7th April, BBC2, 9pm (ALERT ME)