MHIRC: Resource Kit 3: Practitioners’ Guide to Men and Their Roles as Fathers
This guide is primarily focused on engaging fathers in community services, health contexts and programs who otherwise are often less involved for a wide variety of reasons. It has been written to support health professionals to engage with the fathers in the families that they work with, encourage them to discuss the significance of the role they play and the impact that this has on other family members.
The term 'father' in this guide reflects the different ideas, responsibilities, duties, and activities that men play today in family life. In contemporary society, a father can be both biological and social and described as the significant male role model in a child’s life.
Men who are the significant role model in a child’s life can be in intact relationships, separated, or single and while many are the child’s biological father they can also be a grandfather, step-father, uncle or another member of the family or unrelated man. Being an involved father brings with it many health and social benefits to fathers, children, mothers and the extended family.
Fathers’ play with their children seems to promote an active, competitive, autonomous and curious attitude in children that is beneficial to the child’s cognitive and social development. It also buffers early separation, stranger, and social anxiety. While the involvement of fathers has been associated with the rearing of boys, it is equally important for girls.
Engaged, active fathering may also improve men’s health. Men tend to fare worse than women in most disease groups and die approximately five-seven years earlier than women. Supporting men’s fathering role may well be a significant catalyst that supports men to achieve better health outcomes.
Authors: Andrew King, Dr Joe Fleming, Dave Hughes, Mohamed Dukuly, Marc Daley and Rick Welsh.