Project Lead(s): Tran Huu Bich, Lynn Rempel
What about Dad? Recent research has shown that children of a highly-involved male parent show increased cognitive competence, greater empathy, and less sex-stereotyped beliefs. They have higher IQs, stronger verbal skills, are more academically motivated and successful, have fewer emotional and behavioural problems, show better emotional regulation, better social and problem-solving skills and greater overall life satisfaction.
This project by Hanoi’s School of Public Health aims to mobilize more fathers in parenting and involve them directly in the cognitive and emotional development of their infants, and to indirectly enhance infants’ nutritional status by having fathers encourage mother’s breastfeeding exclusivity and duration.
Fathers will be exposed to: multimedia messages about the importance of breastfeeding and father involvement; small group antenatal and postpartum education via community health centres; individual at-home counselling; light-hearted public fathering contests, organized with the assistance of the local Farmers Association, to praise and reward teams of fathers demonstrating good fathering knowledge and behaviours; Fathers Clubs, developed in collaboration with the Labour trade union and Farmers Association to provide peer support.
The project involves 400 couples (with 400 children) in Vietnam’s Hai Duong province.
“Father-infant involvement is an important emerging innovation in developing countries,” says project leader Dr. Tran Bich. “Evolving cultural norms have resulted in fathering roles that range from traditional expectations of father as primarily economic provider and head of the household to more contemporary involvement with mothers and children.”