June 24, 2005

Whoa. Lancet Throws Down Gauntlet for Dad Involvement, Research

Check out this quote from The Lancet announcement of Ramchandani, et al's recent findings on paternal postnatal depression:

Fathers know that interaction with their babies is important. More and more young mothers and fathers want to take care of their infants together. In Finland, fathers can take 3-weeks' leave with part pay immediately after the baby is born or later in the infancy, and also share the parental leave with the mother. 68% of fathers in Finland used the opportunity for paternal leave in 2003.1 These fathers seemed to know what they were doing, even though they might not have read research results suggesting that the amount of time the father spends with the infant, the more responsive and sensitive he becomes as a parent.2 Fathers are naturally motivated to have a meaningful relationship with their infant.

It is not only up to fathers to define the paternal role. Gavin et al 3 showed that fathers' involvement with the infant during the first 2 months after birth was strongly predicted by the quality of the marital relationship and by the father's relationship with the maternal grandmother. These findings suggest that women are gatekeepers to the nursery and fathers need acceptance and support from them to become actors in infant care. Even at home, fathers might face a struggle to be recognised as meaningful partners in their child's development.

Fathers are sometimes kept away from the nursery (and from developmental theories) by the argument that men lack ýmaternal instinctţ, understood as an inborn quality, which supposedly makes mothers more sensitive to their babies than fathers are. Feldman4 showed that fathers and mothers are equally capable of engaging in second-by-second synchrony in interaction with their infant. This finding is supported by Braungart-Rieker et al.5 Ramchandani and colleagues' study adds to this knowledge by suggesting that infants are also sensitive to their fathers. There is no longer any excuse to exclude fathers from mainstream research into infant development and psychopathology.

See the link for the references.

Paternal postnatal depression: fathers emerge from the wings
[thelancet.com]

1 Comment

Pheww, dodged that bullet. California has a great deal that gives dads up to six weeks of in the first postnatal year to bond with their child. You even get half your paycheck while you are vacationing, errr bonding.

I took a total of 4.5 weeks of so far and plan to use my remaining 1.5 weeks somewhere this summer. It's a great way to spend more time with my son and recover from the stress of juggling a new born and a job.

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