Since the late 1990s a series of government departments have promoted a policy and practice agenda urging practitioners in a range of settings such as school, health care and children's centres to 'engage' fathers. The rationale for this project is that fostering father involvement with children will promote good outcomes particularly for those children who are most disadvantaged. The author suggests that this agenda is normatively undesirable and flawed practically. Gender equality appears to be neither an explicit nor implicit aim. Moreover, by constructing the father-child relationship as dyadic, mothers' contributions to fathering and childcare are obscured. Drawing from a piece of qualitative research with fathers about their experiences of social care services, it would appear, however, that the fathers were preoccupied with mothers and their perceived power. Indeed, they had constructed a world of powerful unpredictable women who were supported by feminized services. Not only is writing mothers out problematic for gender equality purposes, it is also not feasible practically.