Talking About the Importance of Dads

Author: Sherrian Price

Translating research for dads and mums

There has been a lot of research and information about dads in 2019 and previously which could be helpful for you to know? I have just come back from a 2 day Symposium on Fatherhood Research held every year in Melbourne with researchers and clinicians from all around Australia, and so this topic is on my mind.

So, Dads, do you really know how important you are for your partner and your child and how important it is for dads to be well and healthy both physically and emotionally?

Do Mums know how important Dads are to them and their children?

If dad won’t read this – please talk to him about it!

So why did I think it important to try and translate this research into bite size pieces for dads and mums to digest?

This research can help you know how and when to take time off work, how you are helping specifically with your partner and child development? How does your own mental health impact the family and how can you get tips and supports to keep going?

Most research so far has been on mother’s experiences. This is not to downgrade such important research but just to say that we don’t know enough yet about dads as parents and how they are going especially with the change in father’s roles and mother’s roles in the last 20 years. This knowledge has to change and then be translated for families.

So here is some information in a nutshell of the latest knowledge on dads;

  • INVOLVED DADS -We now know that being an involved dad brings many benefits to dads themselves, their partners and their children Dads feel more included in family life and more connected, partners feel more supported and less stressed if the relationship is good, and babies cognitive development is improved, school achievement higher and improved peer relationships in teenagers (Kind, Fleming, Dukuly, 2019).
  • ROUGH AND TUMBLE PLAY We know that dads “rough and tumble play” is important for brain development of kids and also kids learning how to be boisterous and then calm down again which teaches limits and boundaries (Fletcher 2011).
  • CHALLENGING PARENTAL PLAY– Dads challenging behaviour with kids where they teach kids to push their limits has been shown to reduce kids anxiety. This is teaching kids to take risks, challenges and is important for brain development. (New research)
  • PND and DADS – 1:10 dads can get PND after having a baby. This represents a lot of babies with a dad that is depressed. Their symptoms often don’t look like mums with PND. They could be angry, drinking more, irritable with their children or baby or just withdrawn, staying at work longer as they can’t cope with coming home. They can use physical punishment more in young kids. (www.amhf.org.au; www.theconversation.com)
  • DADS WITH PND AND PLAY – We know from recent research that if dads have PND, one major study in the UK has found that ‘playing with your baby’ could be helpful in reducing symptoms of PND, of course along with exercise, meds and counseling (Professor Paul Ramchandani from the UK on “Fathers play and depression”.
  • DADS EARLY INVOLVEMENT WITH INFANTS
  • Dad’s involvement with baby early on is associated with a boost in cognitive development or brain development when they are 2 years of age. (Imperial College London)
  • DADS to be SCREENED for depression
  • AUSTRALIAN FATHERHOOD EXPERTS have called for dads to be included in national efforts to screen new parents for depression. This is because “a father’s mental health is one of the most influential predictors of a mother’s mental health”.
  • The UK has just started a great idea to screen all new dads for depression/anxiety where their wife has PND. This is such a helpful new practice that we are starting to think about in Australia, (in fact South Australia is screening all dads in pregnancy and after!), as we know that if mum has PND, the dad has a greater risk of also getting depressed due to the circumstances and pressure. (See www.amhf.org.au; www.theconversation.com)

From my research previously with first time dads I am going to cut this short as dads like short snapshots of information in general. Next blog about dads will included work/life balance and parental leave, pressure of work and how you can get involved with dads groups and research if you want.

SOME SUPPORTS AND INFORMATION AVAILABLE FOR DADS if you need it.

Mensline 24 hour counseling service Australia wide
Beyond Blue online
Gidget Foundation Sydney – counseling for mums and dads with PND
PANDA Association – online resources

BIBLIOGRAPHY

King,A.,Fleming, J., Dukuly, M. (2019). Generative Fathering: Engaging fathers in family based programs. Groupwork Solutions Australia.
Fletcher, R. (2011). The Dad Factor: How the father-baby bond helps a child for life. Finch Publishing. Sydney.

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