Ask an expecting dad what resources he needs to become a parent, and he may tell you he wants information on how to contribute to his partner’s healthy pregnancy, or for a list of practical parenting skills. He also might tell you it would be nice to have a bar to order drinks from in the waiting room at the hospital.
This is the type of honest insight that the team at the Fatherhood Project has gathered in an effort to better support fathers as they enter parenthood.
The Fatherhood Project, a nonprofit program in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been working to improve the health and well-being of children and families since its creation in 2010.
The program aims to assist fathers, as well as medical and social service practitioners who work alongside families, by hosting workshops and trainings, serving as a hub for vital parenting resources, and conducting research to hone their programming. In equipping fathers with crucial parenting skills, the Fatherhood Project empowers them to be knowledgeable, active and emotionally engaged with their children.
The Fatherhood Project’s programming addresses a multitude of issues commonly faced by parents, including father readiness, teen pregnancy, single parenthood, divorce and addiction recovery. Their programs are intended for all fathers with a focus on underserved, at-risk populations. To help reach these dads, they have collaborated with groups such as the MGH Revere Department of Pediatrics and the MGH Departments of Obstetrics and Pediatrics.
They recently administered a survey to men who attended prenatal classes with their partners to see how to better support them. In addition to the tongue-in-cheek suggestion of adding a bar to the waiting room, respondents said they would benefit from additional information regarding how to understand their infant’s emotions and needs.
The survey found that men are excited about becoming fathers, but 56% agreed that fatherhood is stressful. The majority of men were interested in the impact pregnancy and parenting has on their health and recognize that their current health is important for the health of their infant. However, a third of them had not had a physical within the past year, and 50% percent were overweight and 17% obese.
In the future, the Fatherhood Project plans on creating programs and interventions that are designed to engage fathers and encourage a healthy lifestyle for both parents and children. Their overarching goal, however, remains simple: to increase paternal involvement in early childhood.
Take part here: http://www.thefatherhoodproject.org/