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Fatherhood, Co-Parenting and Child Support information. Get a better of understanding of your rights as a parent before you go to court. We will also give you information on how to be a better father and co-parent with the mother. Our goal is to increase father's involvement in the family structure.

3 Steps to Help Dads Deal with “Dad-Shaming”

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Dad-shaming?

Yeah, it’s a thing.

As dads have assumed a greater role in the parenting of their children, they have assumed a greater risk of being shamed for their parenting.

recent national poll found that more than half of dads of children age 13 and younger had been criticized for their parenting style or choices. Of those dads:

  • 67% had been criticized about how they discipline their child
  • 43% had been criticized about what they feed their child
  • 32% had been criticized for being too rough with their child
  • 32% had been criticized for not paying attention to their child

Dads had also been criticized around decisions about their child’s sleep (24%), appearance (23%), and safety (19%).

Basically, dads receive a ton of criticism about virtually every aspect of parenting. It’s no wonder that some dads can be a little gun shy when it comes to taking care of their children. Let’s face it. The gold standard in our culture for parenting is the way in which moms parent—their parenting style. That standard is the underlying factor that leads to the criticism of dads. Our cultural norms around effective parenting haven’t kept up with the increased role of dads in their children’s caregiving or the research that shows dads and moms parent differently—in complimentary ways that benefit children’s well-being.

Fortunately, that same poll showed that dads are extremely confident in their parenting—9 in 10 (92%) said they do a good job. That’s important because confidence is vital to success in any endeavor.

On the other hand, research shows that people consistently overestimate their awareness, knowledge, and skill. They’re overconfident. Known as overconfidence bias, people are more subject to it the more confident they are. Parenting is no exception.

So, as a professional who serves dads, what should you do with this knowledge?

  • First, assume that an involved dad has been criticized for his parenting even when he doesn’t mention it. Let him know he’s not alone and should not feel shame simply because he parents differently than mom.
  • Second, assume that an uninvolved dad will eventually be criticized for his parenting as he becomes more involved in his child’s life. Prepare him for the criticism.
  • Third, realize that criticism of a dad’s parenting might have merit.
  • Fourth, share with all dads that the awareness, knowledge, and skills they possess and are learning will help them parent effectively. Tell them that as they bring their innate parenting ability to the surface—a dad’s parenting style—that it will benefit their child above and beyond the way mom parents.

With that foundation, help dads discern between baseless and valid criticism. Share these three steps to help dads deal with current and future dad-shaming:

  1. Don’t take it personally. (That’s easier said than done, especially when it comes to something as raw as being criticized for how you parent.) This is the first and most vital step. If you take criticism personally, you won’t move beyond this step.
  2. Keep an open mind, actively listen, and challenge yourself. The ability to keep an open mind, actively listen, and challenge yourself is a cornerstone of any effort to improve, including as a parent. You might overestimate your parenting awareness, knowledge, and skills. Seek to continually improve as a parent. Someone might have a valid criticism of your parenting.
  3. Step back and reflect. Take as much time as you need to reflect, as objectively as possible, on the criticism. It might be clear right away whether the criticism is baseless or valid. (Hint: It’s baseless if the criticism is of a dad’s innate parenting style.) If it’s not clear, seek the counsel of someone whose parenting advice you value and who has shown the ability to be objective and direct with you. It might be the mother of your child, one of your child’s grandparents, or a friend who is a good dad or mom. (It might even be you, the professional!)

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Before the Baby > Involving Dads in Maternal Child Health

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Before the Baby > Involving Dads
in Maternal Child Health

Posted by Ave Mulhern from National Fatherhood Initiative


At a recent conference on Maternal Health and Infant Mortality, a new concept was presented—a good concept I might add—as it asked health care providers to ask women of child bearing age about their plans to become pregnant in the future. For example, at an annual well woman visit, the provider would ask if in the upcoming year the woman is planning a pregnancy. If the answer was no and the woman did not plan a pregnancy in the near future, the health care provider might discuss various birth control options and also go over some steps to prepare for a healthy pregnancy if in her future plans.

If the answer was yes, the provider would proactively discuss a series of 11 topics and make suggestions that would help the woman have a healthier pregnancy and ultimately deliver a healthy child. That, of course would be the goal. It is a good and proactive step in increasing the health of both the mother and the child. But there was something in particular that captured my attention about this list.

Here are the 11 topics the provider would go over with the woman and in this order:

  1. Pregnancy Intention
  2. Maintaining a Healthy Weight
  3. Substance Use
  4. A Daily Vitamin (with Folic Acid)
  5. Medications You’re Taking
  6. Chronic Conditions
  7. Mental Health
  8. Healthy Relationships
  9. Vaccinations
  10. Environmental Hazards
  11. Health Screenings

What captured my attention was that the healthy relationship question was 8th in the order of the 11 questions. Based on what we know about the importance of father involvement, the first question to ask after determining pregnancy intention should be the healthy relationship question. What is the relationship with the father or potential father? Is the woman in a committed, healthy, preferably a married relationship with father or father-to-be? Statistically, children do better overall in that kind of setting so why would we rank that question as less important than maintaining a healthy weight?

With all the data we have on hand around the importance of father involvement to children, it’s critical to educate women on the value and importance that the relationship with the father can bring to her and the child, with an emphasis on a healthy relationship! 

recent article from the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), Fathers: Powerful Allies for Maternal and Child Health shares good information and research on the impact, the positive impact fathers have on maternal and child health. It states, “Maternal and child health programs and professionals have become increasingly more cognizant of how fathers, specifically, affect their children’s health and development,”… “Moving this conversation forward, and highlighting strategies that support father engagement and involvement, is a critical opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes in the decades to come.”

The article discusses some of the significant barriers that fathers still face and provides links to some creative partnerships to help promote father engagement. As we learned from the research, fathers may not be aware of the impact they have on their child, and for those that do know their importance, they still may face societal and institutional barriers, or even barriers from the mom.

The article continues that we need to empower fathers as advocates for their children’s health: “I think many fathers know they’re important and their presence matters,” says Berns. NICHQ President and CEO, “But we should do more to impress upon them just how big of a difference they make—not that they are just a supportive addition but that their actions and attitudes really will affect the lifelong health of their children. Intentionally talking to fathers about their impact and what they can do at every stage of their children’s lives will empower them as champions for children’s health and well-being.”


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About DFFC

The Delaware Fatherhood & Family Coalition is an extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative created specifically to give a voice to fathers and the importance of their involvement for the well-being of their children.


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