Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Help for men on how to be fathers


Most of the images of fathers in popular media (television sitcoms, movies, etc.) depict men as buffoons who are terrible fathers and always needing to be bailed out by their wives. This really is not the case, and the research is beginning to support a more accurate version:
Fathers stumbling through child-rearing are a familiar sitcom theme. But a growing body of research at the University of California, Berkeley, is challenging the perception that dads are goofy, uncaring or incompetent caregivers. On the contrary, preliminary findings suggest their parenting skills are crucial to their kids' social and academic success, and that teamwork in parenting is the ideal.
Even so, some men do need some help on how to be good fathers, especially those men who did not grow up with a good role model of fathering their lives. There are more and more resources available for men who do not simply want to be "baby daddies" and would rather be fathers.

Help for men on how to be fathers

Community groups that provide support and encouragement for fathers help men develop distinctive strengths as both parents and positive role models. (Credit: iStockphoto)

U. CHICAGO (US) — Support groups in the community and online benefit new dads and their families as they figure out how to become fathers.

The 2010 U.S. Census shows 1.8 million fathers head a single-parent household, or 15 percent of all single-parent families—three times the percentage reported in 2000. The 1970 Census showed only 1 percent of single-parent households were headed by men.

“Sometimes dads feel like they don’t get the same level of support that moms do when they become parents, but I think dads should seek opportunities from the beginning to be involved with their children,” says Jennifer Bellamy, assistant professor at the University of Chicago.

“Fathers should, for instance, try to go to visits with the pediatrician and ask questions about their child’s development,” she says.

“We know that fathers play with children in a different way than mothers do, they are more physical, and that benefits the children. That physical activity actually helps the children’s development.”

Successful programs are able to help connect young fathers with training and employment programs. School-focused programs, team-parenting programs, and community- based fatherhood programs are most useful in helping young dads develop.

Young fathers in effective programs are less likely to face criminal or substance abuse problems and are more willing to ask for parenting help. An evaluation of successful programs also shows they seem to reduce repeat teenage births.

The Texas Fragile Families Initiative program demonstrates how intervention helps young fathers, Bellamy says.

“Birth was often a magic moment for the young fathers, many of whom reported becoming more responsible individuals in response to the feeling of attachment they had for their children.”

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