Involving Fathers in Their Kid's Health

MONDAY, May 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Fathers are an important influence in their children's lives, and more and more of them are choosing to stay at home with their children.

So, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, pediatricians need to expand their knowledge of fathers' roles and expectations and do more to accommodate and support the greater role that fathers have in their children's lives.

The AAP suggests that pediatricians:
o Adjust their office hours to accommodate working schedules of all parents.
o Encourage fathers to visit the office at least once during their child's first two months of life.
o Speak directly to the father, as well as the mother, and ask for his opinions.
o Politely ask about the father's relationship to the mother, his cultural traditions regarding parenting, and his personal beliefs about his role in caring for the child.
o Be sensitive and informed about different cultural and ethnic values and customs, especially traditional father roles.
o Welcome fathers to appointments and tell them you appreciate them being there.
o Remind families that fathers aren't just workers or breadwinners, and that mothers are not just primary caregivers or nurturers.
o Reinforce the father's support of the mother's mental and physical health. For example, fathers can arrange for the mother to have some time alone, assist her in taking care of other family members, and watch out for signs of postpartum depression.