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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.

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: 7 Tips For Powering Down Your Brain

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, May 01, 2020

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: 7 Tips For Powering Down Your Brain

In the moment, it can feel impossible to lull your body back to sleep. But it is possible. Here's how to make it happen.

By Matt Berical Apr 27 2020, 6:29 PM


it’s the middle of the night and you’re lying awake in bed. The moon is out. Maybe your partner is snoring or the house is making its nocturnal sighs. You close your eyes and, somehow, someway, try to coax your body to sleep. But it’s no use. And, actually, you’re worse because of it. By thinking about how you’re not sleeping, you’re now fully aware that you’re not sleeping and have allowed a rush of other thoughts to enter your brain. Now, another half hour has passed. That’s another half hour of not sleeping. But maybe, just maybe, if you can just close your eyes and try to sleep for real this time, you’ll get a few hours of sack time before the day begins. But no. When you wake up and can’t go back to sleep, it can feel like there are no solutions. It’s a vicious cycle.

But there are ways to handle it. The first step is to understand your objective: distract yourself so you can let sleep takeover. People try too hard. They look at the clock and try to convince themselves to sleep and get caught in this cycle,” says Dr. Abhinav Singh, M.D. the Medical Director for the Indiana Sleep Center. “It’s like over-stringing a guitar — you’re going to get too tight, too high strung. And this will drive up your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is anti-sleep.”

Quieting your brain sounds difficult, and it certainly can be at times of stress. But, armed with the right routine, you can break the cycle. While the basics of good sleep — routine, proper self-care throughout the day, and so forth — remain the same and are powerful tools for conditioning the brain to achieve good rest, per Dr. Singh. there are a few things you can do in the moment to sleep when you can’t. Here’s what to do.


A (Very) Brief Word on Insomnia

First, some things to know about insomnia. Insomnia is not only the inability to sleep or that the sleep you achieve is of poor quality, but also when you have repeated awakenings after which you have trouble falling back asleep. It’s certainly a bit more complicated than that, but for our purposes, that’s enough. One of the most popular explanations for insomnia is known as the “3P Model” that was coined by Dr. Arthur Spielman and offers a guiding principal for the causes of the disorder.

The 3Ps, per Dr. Singh, refer to predisposing constitutional factors, precipitating factors, and perpetuating factors. Predispositions refer to hard-to-change, ingrained issues such as anxiety or a harsher reaction to stress, that could lead to insomnia. The second P, precipitating factors, refers to such issues as a pre-existing medical condition, a death in the family, or some other major life event that directly impacts sleep. The final P, perpetuating factors, are the various ways a person is trying to handle insomnia whether correctly or incorrectly.

“The last P is really the only one we truly have control over,” says Dr. Singh. “It refers to behaviors relative to development and maintenance of insomnia. And maybe you are looking at screens, constantly checking the time, or anything else that may be counterproductive to achieving sleep.” The trick is to make the right choices to get good habits that let sleep come to you.


What to Do When You Can’t Sleep: 7 Tips to Help

Leave Your Bed

That’s right. If you’re unable to fall back asleep in 15 or 20 minutes, get up and go somewhere else. Have a guest room? Great. Go there. But a couch will also do. One of the worst things you can do if you’re having a hard time sleeping is to stay in bed and think about not being able to sleep. “Don’t lay there struggling because your brain will learn ‘This is the boxing ring where we fight the sleep every night,’” says Dr. Singh. “The bed is for sleep or intimacy. Not sleeping, no intimacy? Don’t be in bed. That’s how you teach your brain to relate your bed to sleep. The longer you lie there, the more your stress will mount and the worse your chances will be to fall asleep.

Don’t Look at the Clock

This is tricky, but it’s important. If you understand what time it is, you will likely start to think “oh, it’s 4:15, maybe I can get two hours of sleep before I have to get up,” and perpetuate the vicious cycle. “It’s so important to resist the temptation to look at the clock,” says Dr. Singh. “As it will only make you realize how much sleep you have missed.” That means, yes, resisting the temptation to look at your phone.

Avoid Screens or Harsh Lights

One of the keys to Good Sleep 101 is limiting the amount of light you receive before bed. But this also remains true when you’re having trouble sleeping. Light is a natural signal to our body that it’s time to rise and it decreases the slow-drip of melatonin we receive. So, avoid turning on any bright lights (installing a dim motion-sensor light in the bathroom might be of interest) and scrolling on your phone to pass the time. The latter is especially true, as reading the news or seeing headlines at night, especially in our particularly high-strung era, will only increase stress.


Read a Book or Listen to a Podcast

Once on a couch or in another room, crack open a book or listen to a podcast. Either will focus your mind to make you stop thinking about sleeping and let sleep come to you. “It will draw your attention so that you’re not worrying about sleep and thus let sleep naturally come,” says Dr. Singh.


Try The 4-8 Breathing Technique…

The name of the game when you can’t sleep is calming yourself down. One of the best ways to do that — in the middle of the night or anytime you’re feeling stressed — is to do some deep breathing. Dr. Singh recommends a simple 4-8 technique. That is, slowly inhale while counting to four seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds. “What you’re doing is slowing down your breathing to reduce the cortisol level and inducing a state of calm,” he says. “Plus your brain is locked onto that process.”


…Or Some Progressive Deep Muscle Relaxation

Similar to deep breathing is this relaxation technique that’s often used in anxiety management. The idea is, starting from your toes and moving up to your ankles, knees, thighs, and every other muscle that you can voluntarily control or tense, you clench them for three seconds and then relax. you count to three and relax. “Again, this is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that’s intended to focus your mind on the clenching while relaxing all the muscles in your body,” say Dr. Singh. “It’s relaxing and hard to drift away into other thoughts while focusing on this.”


Try Some White Noise

Another way to give your mind a focal point is to use some white noise. Maybe it’s rain. Maybe it’s the wind. Maybe it’s a crackling fire. Maybe it’s just the drone of the fan. Whichever you chose, listening to a constant sound is an excellent way to draw the mind’s attention and calm it down enough for sleep to arrive.


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The Marriage During Quarantine Edition

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, April 10, 2020

The Marriage During Quarantine Edition

Remember Plato's Allegory of the Cave? In it, he imagines that a group of prisoners have been confined since birth with no knowledge of the outside world. They're chained, facing a rock wall, with a fire behind them. All they know of life is the shadows cast by those living it. Eventually, one of the prisoners escapes and is startled by the outside world.

 

There's more to the allegory, but that's the gist. And right now, we're experiencing more or less the opposite of that prisoner. We're looking at shadows. The world has been reduced. But reality didn't change. Only our experience did. Many parents and partners and people are, understandably, struggling to adjust.

 

In some ways, the hardest thing to adjust to is each other. Being in the cave is fine -- a fire feels nice on your back, but being chained to people is hard. In China, now emerging from quarantine, divorce lawyers have waiting lists. That boom will come to America as well. Deep breathing can only get couples so far.

 




How to Help a Marriage Thrive Under Pressure

The coronavirus is putting an unprecedented amount of stress on couples. Here are some ways to cope

 

Understand That Everyone Needs Time to Realignt

Life has changed. Many among us have gone from a 'thriving' experience to a 'surviving' experience seemingly overnight. This isn't easy and requires time for everyone to adjust. Understanding this is crucial. "This difference in mindset can create a unique tension and demand a focus on psychological survival," says Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S, an Austin-based psychotherapist "The skill set that survival demands is different than what is required to thrive and can include: greater flexibility, presence of mind, a sense of urgency, and functionality over process." 

 

Create New Structures

In times of chaos, those with structure thrive — and are less likely to smother one another in their sleep. As many of our pre-existing routines have been rendered useless, now's the time to create new ones. "It is critical that a new routine be established that allows each member of the family to satisfy some of their needs to be met in regards to personal space, virtual work, virtual communications with friends and family, groceries and meal times, exercise routines, and rest/relaxation," says therapist Robert A. Grigore. So, sit down together and figure it out . Consider all the details. Make a plan. Amend that plan. Plan it out again. Then plan it out some more.

 

Set Boundaries

Most couples are now forced to occupy the same living space, however large or small that may be. There is no way around that. But that doesn't mean that you have to be on top of each other all the time. Do what you can to draw lines of demarcation. Designate a work space for one another. Give yourselves the spaces you need to be productive and active without crowding them.

 

Be Honest About Time Alone

We all need time to ourselves. The need is even more so, what with no more commuting, gym-time, bar-time, barre-time, sports-time, or whatever-time. "Simply put, we are not used to being confined to our homes," says. Laves-Webb. "This dynamic can be taxing even under the best circumstances. Take time to go outside, go to another room or shut your door for a period of time in order to reset, create mental recalibration, and to have a pressure release valve for everyone involved." Couples need to communicate this need and make time for it to happen without resorting to passive aggression or resentment.

 

Figure Out How to Fight

"It can be extremely helpful to come up with expectations as to how to handle disagreements and tensions that will escalate into arguments," says Grigore. Here's a start: Agree that any family member can pause a disagreement in order to return to it at a later time when they need to work out their thoughts. Go from there.

 

Give One Another the Benefit of the Doub

"You're both dealing with increased stress and unpredictability, so it's likely that your partner isn't actually trying to annoy you or act selfishly — they're probably genuinely overwhelmed and not thinking as clearly as usual," says Jessie Bohnenkamp, a licensed professional counselor based in Virginia. "If you need to bring up an issue, focus on the specific behavior that's bothering you rather than criticizing your partner's character or personality."

 

Here's an example. Instead of saying something like You always expect me to clean up after you. Try, It would be really helpful if you could clean up after your breakfast before you start working.

 

Set Aside Specific Time to Vent

When it feels like the world is burning, some people tend to spend all day talking about each little flame. Others ignore the heat. Neither approach is worthwhile. Couples need to figure out times to vent to one another during the day. Bohnenkamp suggests that during this each partner gets 10 or 15 scheduled minutes to talk about whatever's on their mind — work stress, worry about their parents' health, the state of the world, money concerns, whatever. "This time to come together and support each other is a wonderful way to stay on the same page, reduce each other's stress, and stay connected and strong during this stressful time," she says.

 

Make Time for Other People

Friends, family, and co-workers help us vent, gain perspective, or just forget about the day-to-day for a while. Even while social distancing, we all need to find ways to connect with people outside of marriage. If you belong to a group or club, see if they can hang out over Zoom or another video conferencing service. If you want to connect with family members or friends one-on-one, set up a daily Facetime call. Making time for interests and connections outside of the marriage can ensure that everything stays level inside the marriage.

 

Remind Yourselves: These Are Crazy Times

"During times of uncertainty, we go into survival mode, becoming hyper focused on ourselves. By extension we become less tolerant of others and more likely to snap at our partners," says therapist Ebru Halper. "External stressors will take a toll on a marriage, even on really strong ones. When there's friction, tell yourself 'This is very stressful for both of us. We are doing our best.'" At the end of the day, our best is all we can do.

10 Tips for New Fathers

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 28, 2020

10 Tips for New Fathers

If you are a new dad, guess what research shows is one of the best things you can do to bond with your new baby and make your marriage stronger?



1. Time and tolerance.

The most important thing you can do is simply spend time with your newborn. Serious research about fatherhood is only a scant 30 years old, and what we know is that the more time fathers spend with their infants the better. Researchers in the early years of father-infant bonding couldn’t find fathers spending enough time with their infants to study them. In other words, dads weren’t spending an adequate amount of time with their baby to even start measuring the impact. What we know now is that the time you can just be with your infant is valuable.

Along with time, you will need to have some tolerance for you and your new creation to get to know one another. This is your first time being a father and your son or daughter’s first time being a human being. Be kind and gentle with yourselves. Allow for some learning, experimentation and mutual tolerance. Give yourself time to learn and grow into the role.


2. Eye contact.

We have known for a long time that infants are drawn to the human face, but with computer-enhanced research we were able to realize what they look at: the eyes. Babies have a preference for the human face in general, and eye contact in particular. The one thing to remember about this is that they can only see clearly about a foot in front of them, so remember to smile, stay close, and look ‘em in the eye.


3. Repetitive sounds.

Particularly something called the bilabials; Pa-pa, Ma-ma, Ba-ba are the first and most common sounds infants can make. They are simple because the two lips are pressed together with a puff of air pushed through them. That is why most first utterances around the globe for mother, father and bottle use these sounds. They are easy to make and the infant can get some quick language control and feedback from their environment in this way. (Trust me, the first time your little one says Pa-Pa to you will be a peak experience.) To strengthen the connection, when you hear them making the sound, make it back. Eventually the two of you can start your own bilabial chorus.


4. Infants are fans of motion.

They love it and crave it, and need it. They love to be held, jostled, bounced and jiggled. There is good reason for this. Movement helps infants develop everything from their brains to their sense of balance. When you hold your baby, give them a feeling of security, but not too tight or too loose. Don’t be afraid to hold and sway and bounce and cuddle. Learn what he or she likes and cultivate that motion. You want to be the one with that magic touch when baby needs a motion magician.


5. Change that diaper!

Researchers early on found out that the fathers who helped diapering their baby had stronger, better, and more long-lasting marriages. So if you want to score points with mom and with your baby — learn the art of diapering and treat it as a shared duty with mom. If you don’t want the feces to hit the oscillator in your relationship, learn to deal with it at the source.


6. Make a play date with baby.

Maybe Tuesday is girls night out, or you don’t start work until noon on Thursday, but whatever the schedule can permit, have planned time to be the one and only caregiver for your baby. One-on-one bonding is important. When mom is in the room there is typically a preference by the infant for her to be the one in charge. Take time to figure out what your relationship is with your newborn — just the two of you. This is important. You need to be able to manage this baby thing solo, and there is no other way to get this experience.


7. Teamwork.

The above point having been said, you also need to realize you are part of a team. You and mom are a tag-team. This may be a different set of skills than when you are one-on-one. As an example, when mom was out and I was joyfully bottlefeeding my daughter with breast milk we had pumped for her, everything was wonderful. But the moment mom came home from her classes, my daughter wasn’t in the mood for Mr. second-best. She could hear and, through the magic of pheromones, smell mom and wanted to be with her. This was the transition time. Recognize that the three of you function like a mobile hanging from the ceiling and are in balance with one another. As the infant’s needs change, the balance of mom and dad will need to change along with it.


8. Keep your promises.

As your child grows and as you develop as a family, remember that dads have to be absolutely certain to do one thing: keep their promises. If you promise your spouse you are going to be home at 6:30 p.m., make that the priority in your life that day. As your child grows, these promises to him or her become the backbone of your relationship. Deliver on what you promise and the ease and security of the relationship will evolve. Renege on these consistently and an insecure bonding, something you definitely do not want, can happen. I encourage parents I work with to only make commitments and promises they can keep. I’d rather them keep one promise than make three and only keep two.

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The Involved Father

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, January 24, 2020

The Involved Father




Fathers are just as essential to healthy child development as mothers. Psychology Today explained, “Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”“Shuttle Diplomacy,” Psychology Today, July/August 1993, p. 15. Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the world of child psychology, asserts that a father’s love and a mother’s love are qualitatively different. Fathers “love more dangerously” because their love is more “expectant, more instrumental” than a mother’s love.As cited in Kyle D. Pruett, The Nurturing Father, (New York: Warner Books, 1987), p. 49. A father brings unique contributions to the job of parenting a child that no one else can replicate. Following are some of the most compelling ways that a father’s involvement makes a positive difference in a child’s life. 

Fathers parent differently.

Fathering expert Dr. Kyle Pruett explains that fathers have a distinct style of communication and interaction with children. By eight weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between their mother’s and father’s interaction with them. This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children. This understanding is critical for their development.


Fathers play differently.

Fathers tickle more, they wrestle, and they throw their children in the air (while mother says . . . “Not so high!”). Fathers chase their children, sometimes as playful, scary “monsters.” Fathering expert John Snarey explains that children who roughhouse with their fathers learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable.John Snarey, How Fathers Care for the Next Generation: A Four Decade Study (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 35-36. They learn self-control by being told when “enough is enough” and when to settle down. Girls and boys both learn a healthy balance between timidity and aggression.


Fathers build confidence.

Go to any playground and listen to the parents. Who is encouraging kids to swing or climb just a little higher, ride their bike just a little faster, throw just a little harder? Who is encouraging kids to be careful? Mothers protect and dads encourage kids to push the limits. Either of these parenting styles by themselves can be unhealthy. One can tend toward encouraging risk without consideration of consequences. The other tends to avoid risk, which can fail to build independence and confidence. Together, they help children remain safe while expanding their experiences and increasing their confidence.


Fathers communicate differently.

A major study showed that when speaking to children, mothers and fathers are different. Mothers will simplify their words and speak on the child’s level. Men are not as inclined to modify their language for the child. The mother’s way facilitates immediate communication; the father’s way challenges the child to expand her vocabulary and linguistic skills — an important building block of academic success.


Fathers discipline differently.

Educational psychologist Carol Gilligan tells us that fathers stress justice, fairness and duty (based on rules), while mothers stress sympathy, care and help (based on relationships). Fathers tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Mothers tend toward grace and sympathy, providing a sense of hopefulness. Again, either of these disciplinary approaches by themselves is not good, but together, they create a healthy, proper balance.


Fathers prepare children for the real world.

Involved dads help children see that attitudes and behaviors have consequences. For instance, fathers are more likely than mothers to tell their children that if they are not nice to others, kids will not want to play with them. Or, if they don’t do well in school, they will not get into a good college or secure a desirable job. Fathers help children prepare for the reality and harshness of the world.


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Father’s Day: A Father’s Bond with His Newborn Is Just as Important as a Mother’s Bond

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Father’s Day: A Father’s Bond with His Newborn

Is Just as Important as a Mother’s Bond

Dads, you’re not alone if you’re feeling out of bounds with your newborn. I know life with a new baby can be overwhelming, particularly for new dads. This Father’s Day, I want to emphasize the importance of daddy-baby bonding with your newborn. Daddy-baby bonding is a topic that is not discussed enough but needs to be addressed. Did you know father-infant bonding is just as important as a mother-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period? It is vitally important for a father to interact and bond with his newborn to help the infant’s development and to reduce the risk of paternal postpartum depression. That’s correct. Postpartum depression is not exclusive to new moms. Delayed bonding over the course of the first couple of months can increase the risk of paternal postpartum depression.



According to a new study published in Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN), from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), when fathers delay bonding with their newborns, they risk altering the long-term course of paternal involvement as the infant progresses throughout childhood and adolescence. In addition, fathers “reported that they didn’t start to experience fatherhood until birth” while, mothers reported that they started to experience motherhood as soon they received news that they were pregnant. This difference influences the amount of time it takes for a mother and a father to feel a loving connection and bond with their newborn. Most fathers enter parenthood expecting an immediate emotional bond with their newborns, but many reports that forming that bond takes time.

Moms can help by encouraging dad’s involvement with their newborn. As a mom, I know that we have a ‘take charge” approach with our infants but this attitude can have negative effects on dads. Fathers have reported delayed onset of feeling bonded with their infants for as long as 6 weeks to 2 months after birth. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors reviewed 43 studies on depression in new fathers. They found that prenatal and postpartum depression was evident in about 10% of men in their studies and was relatively higher in the 3- to 6-month postpartum period. We can help fathers reduce the risk of paternal postpartum depression by getting them more involved with their newborns from the time of birth.

Successful father-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period has been shown to have several benefits for the infant: it reduces cognitive delay, promotes weight gain in preterm infants, and improves breastfeeding rates. Dads can start to bond with their newborns by practicing these tips found in AWHONN’s magazine Healthy Mom&Baby:

       Jump right in. Don’t be afraid to begin immediately caring for and loving your baby. The more you hold your baby, the more comfortable and natural it will feel

       Take a night shift. Once mom is breastfeeding well, she may want to let you give the baby a nighttime meal. This way she can get more sleep and you will have the opportunity to bond with your newborn

       Read your newborn a book. Your newborn will enjoy the rhythm and pace of your voice while you read a book. In the early months, it’s not about what you’re reading; it’s about reading itself

       Initiate the bath. Bathing your newborn will enhance bonding and provide a multi-sensory learning experience.

       Create a bedtime ritual. Infants will learn to depend on the consistency and predictability of a nighttime routine.


Fathers are vitally important to their kids’ health and to public health research

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Fathers are vitally important to their kids’ health and to public health research




Helping our children to develop healthy eating, exercise and screen-time behaviours is an important public health goal globally.

This is because behaviours established early in life often track into adulthood. And these behaviours have a big impact on a person’s risk for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

However, many Canadian children are not establishing healthy habits early in their lives. National data suggests that 70 per cent of four- to eight-year-old children do not consume the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables and close to 80 per cent of three- to four-year-olds exceed screen time recommendations

Because children’s health behaviours emerge early in life and in the context of their family, engaging parents in health promotion is critical.

Fathers are largely missing from this picture. A 2017 review of family-based health interventions found that fathers made up only six per cent of all parent participants.


It matters how Dad eats and moves

Emerging research suggests that fathers are critical stakeholders in the development of children’s health behaviours.

International research studies have found associations between fathers’ eating and activity behaviours and those of their children, suggesting the important influence of fathers’ role modelling.

Research with families in the Guelph Family Health Study found that modelling by fathers, but not mothers, of healthy food intake was associated with a healthier diet among their children, which points to the unique role of fathers.

Given the important role fathers play in the development of their children’s health behaviours, it is important to include them in health-promotion interventions.

Research supports involving both parents to maximize impact. One review of parenting studies found that programs including both mothers and fathers resulted in better child outcomes than those programs with only mothers.


Healthy eating is not ‘women’s work’

Despite men’s increasing involvement, women remain responsible for the majority of house and family work in Canada. On average, Canadian women spend one hour more each day than men on unpaid household work, including caring for children and meal preparation.

By including only mothers in our health-promotion efforts, we may inadvertently reinforce these inequitable gender norms and practices — for example, the notion that providing healthful foods is “women’s work.”

It could also result in less effective family-based interventions, as families may be less likely to implement and sustain behaviour changes that reinforce these inequalities


Fathers matter to health research too

It is important to engage fathers in family-based research, so that public heath interventions are informed by those with lived experience of fathering.

We recently hosted a conference that brought together international experts, students, health professionals and community stakeholders — to identify effective strategies to engage fathers in family-based health and obesity-related research.

The recommendations include targeting recruitment specifically at fathers. Research has shown that fathers are interested in participating in child health research, but report that they often don’t participate because they do not feel like they have been asked. Researchers need to use the words “father” or “dad” rather than non-specific words such as “families” or “parents” when recruiting for child health studies.

It is also important for researchers and public health professionals to honor the diversity among fathers and families, incorporating differing cultural traditions and recognizing that fatherhood varies along with ages, ethnicity, location, sexual orientation, country of origin and socioeconomic, marital and custodial status.


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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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How to Raise a Strong Kid (But Not a Selfish Bully)

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, September 05, 2019

How to Raise a Strong Kid (But Not a Selfish Bully)


No one wants to raise a pushover. Most people don't want to raise bullies, either.

By Lizzy Francis Updated May 03 2019, 1:40 PM

Parents, understandably, don’t want to raise pushovers or kids who avoid confrontation. Kids who don’t know how to stand up for themselves grow up into kids who constantly apologize or don’t know who they are. So how can a parent help their kid be self-assured, strong physically and mentally, and have a strong sense of self? Well, it’s not as easy as teaching the ABC’s. But it can and must be done, says child psychologist Gene Beresin, who runs the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Kids need to tolerate emotional swings. From bad grades to successes, strength requires emotional control and balance of emotion,” he says. But parents can’t go too hard on the strength lesson. It’s important to teach kids strength without letting them err into problematic forms of aggression and selfishness.. It’s good to raise a kid that’s slow to back down. It’s bad to raise a kid who feels compelled to square off with peers or constantly compete. In a profoundly competitive culture, teaching a kid to weather confrontation but not seek it out is a difficult task. Here’s what parents who raise strong, self-assured kids do: 


They Talk To Their Kids About Death

For the most part, the first brush kids will have with mortality will likely be when their family pet dies. While young kids might not understand the permanence of death or what it means to die, the experience of talking through it with kids is a fundamental part of teaching their kids inner strength and resiliency. Beresin says that parents who want to raise strong kids can and should be visibly sad over the situation, but not be debilitated by their grief. This teaching moment, in which parents should go through the grieving process with their kids, mourn their pet, and model emotional strength without withdrawing completely or being cold about it. 


They Endure Physical Tasks Without Complaint

Being an adult often means doing a lot of shit that sucks. Shoveling snow, raking leaves, deep cleaning the fridge: these are all things that come with adulthood and being a parent. Parents who teach their kids strength tend to do these tasks both without constant complaint and without breaking their backs over it, says Beresin. That means that when they do the work, they take breaks, they go to bed the night before, they vocally prepare for the tasks, and, when they’re done, they say they are proud of themselves.


They Take Work Problems In Stride

Parents who want to raise kids who know that what happens to them at work is often out of their control, and therefore have a strong sense of self, try to keep their cool in the face of seriously rocky work situations. Work stress gets to us all, eventually, and it’s important that parents feel they can complain to their spouse about their job at home. But what parents need to remember is that their kids are often listening. So parents who stay level-headed, talk through what’s bothering them, and come up with a meaningful plan of action while also talking about their strengths as an employee and a person. Teaching kids to be honest and thoughtful about their situations in work and life will help them be self-reflective, and know who they are. Parents who do this raise strong kids. 


They Promote Exercise

Strong kids are strong kids mentally and physically, and parents that have kids who promote their physical health engage in activities that promotes physical health themselves. Even after a long day of activities, parents should make sure they still hit that 5-mile-run they talked about or go to the gym early, and they should also talk to their kids about it. While eight-year-olds don’t need to lift weights, getting out on the baseball diamond with them, playing catch, or racing them, is a great way to spend time with kids in a way that prioritizes their physical health.

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Kids Who Do Chores Are More Likely to Be Successful. Here’s Why

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Kids Who Do Chores Are More Likely to Be Successful. Here’s Why

Children who help out at home grow up to be happy, healthy, successful adults — when parents dole out the work in the right fashion.

By Lauren Vinopal Jul 25 2019, 2:25 PM



Chores are good for kids. Like, this-is-going-to-get-my-kid-into-Harvard good. Research shows that kids who do chores grow into happier, healthier, far more successful adults, and the sooner parents start them on them, the better off they are. But why? It seems to all boil down to acclimation. To succeed we all need to work and working hard takes some getting used to. Social scientists suspect that when children are expected to put their toys away, make their beds, or just wipe down the counter around at a young age, they get comfortable with these tasks long before they realize it’s work. When they grow up and inevitably have to accomplish these things, they’re less likely to rail against them. Instead, they get things done and are better off for it.

“The skills that kids learn early will last most of their lives. Chores teach kids skills that they will need to survive on their own and to get along with others,” psychologist Dr. Shane Owens tells Fatherly. “From an evolutionary perspective, chores teach kids how to take care of themselves and to be a cooperative, productive member of the tribe.” And yet in the age of Roombas and screen-based play there’s evidence that kids these days are doing fewer chores than ever before. Parents need to take matters into their own hands, make chores a priority, and follow this expert-back advice on how to get make the most out of chores.

Take the Time to Teach the Skills Associated With the Chores

Let’s face it, young kids don’t have a deep practical skill set (coloring within the lines doesn’t count). Completing small tasks around the house is a good place to start. Chores are one of the first opportunities for children to take on basic, low-stakes responsibilities so they can learn to do them right. Unfortunately, this means that giving children chores does not necessarily translate into less work for parents. It likely means more work, not just because kids may resist responsibilities at first, but they might be bad at them. Sure, if moms and dads want something done right, they can do it themselves and that might seem more efficient and easier in the moment. But if kids are going to ever make their bed instead of jumping on it, it’s worth the time and effort at the front-end. “Kids cannot learn to do that unless they are provided the opportunity and expected to do chores like cleaning up after themselves and helping with cooking, doing the dishes, and laundry,” Owens says.

Focus on Time Management (And, Yes, Use Chore Charts)

“Kids who do chores learn to organize their time and to delay gratification. Both of those are vital skills for later success,” Owens explains. More specifically breaking bigger projects like cleaning the house into smaller, more manageable tasks like putting toys away, shows children how much time and effort certain tasks take. They also learn that sometimes they have to wait before they’re free to go play, which is a reward after getting the job done. In doing this, kids figure out something most people struggle with in adulthood — it takes a little time to improve their surroundings and make life a little easier, but the investment pays off. Want to really drive home the time and effort with a visual representation for your kid? That’s what chore charts are all about.

Frame Chores as a Household Partnership

Twenty years of research from the University of Minnesota reveals that the single best predictor for future relationship success with family, friends, and romantic partners is doing chores at the age of 3 and 4 years old. However, for children who were not given chores until they were teenagers, the exact opposite was true — they tend to struggle in close relationships across the board. Scientists suspect that when it comes to chores, parents might want to start sooner than later. Owens says parents can start as young as 2 years old, before kids see helping mom and dad as an actual chore, so they are more eager to imitate what their parents do, even if it is as simple as sweeping.“A kid who learns early to do chores will be a more generous and cooperative partner,” he says. “It’s easier to live and work with a person who has learned to take care of his own stuff and to be responsible for some of the boring work that adult and family life requires.”

Chores Are Work, So Motivate Them Like a Good Boss

Along with childhood chores being the strongest predictor for relationship success, the same University of Minnesota study found that they are significantly correlated with academic and career success as well. Data also indicated that early chores were linked with higher IQs. This echoes the results of the longest-running longitudinal study in history, spanning 75 years, where Harvard scientists found that success largely depends on individual work ethic, which is correlated with participation in housework as children. To Owens, this connection isn’t surprising. “Chores teach kids important self-regulation skills — organization, discipline, and work ethic — and vital relationship skills like cooperation, teamwork, and respect for others. So kids who are expected to do them are more successful.”

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How to Keep Your Kids on a Sleep Schedule While Traveling

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How to Keep Your Kids on a Sleep Schedule While Traveling

School’s out, summer’s in, and family adventures await. But how do you manage your child’s nighttime schedule when their regular routine is anything but?

By Julia Savacool Jun 03 2019, 5:50 PM


How to Keep Your Kids on a Sleep Schedule While Traveling

This story was produced in partnership with GoodNites®, the #1 NightTime Underwear that works to keep kids dry and worry-free, so they can do what they do best: be kids.

When kids’ regular routines suddenly change, sleep is usually the first thing to suffer. Different times zones, unfamiliar beds, the tantalizing opportunity to explore someplace new: It’s easy to see why sleep is not a priority. But it should be, since kids ages 4 to 7 are at a critical point in their development that requires nine to 13 hours of shut-eye a night to fully rest and recover for a new day of activity. Without enough sleep, your little ball of energy and enthusiasm will turn into a clingy, crabby, tantrum-prone monster. While nothing is a perfect substitute for the comfort of sleeping in their own bed, there are ways to help kids adapt their routines to whatever new situation arises. Here are some essential tips to help kids sleep soundly, even when they’re away from home.


1. Put Sleep Aids in Your Carry-On

This one is simple: If you’re traveling, pack your kid’s essentials in your carry-on. All the best preparation for sleep aids is useless if you stash them in luggage that was sent to Cincinnati while you’re spending the week in San Fran; you should know exactly where the sleep aids are at all times. When you need them, you should have them on hand.

2. Have the Travel Talk

For most adults, travel — and all the hassles that go along with it — is second nature. Cars, airports, long lines, major delays, sitting on the tarmac, eating while in-flight, landing, security checks, rental car pick-ups. When you look at it from a kid’s point of view, it’s utter madness. And if they don’t know what to expect, it can be anxiety-inducing.

Starting about a week before your trip, sit down with your child and describe some of the new things they will encounter during their summer travels. Describe the fun parts: Picking out a meal on the airplane, watching movies, meeting new people. Also talk about some of the other new experiences, like sleeping in a small space on a plane or in a hotel and waiting in line for just about everything. If your child struggles with bedwetting, talk about how you will ease his anxiety by using GoodNites®, NightTime Underwear and GoodNites® Bed Mats should problems arise.

3. Rearrange the Furniture

 You might not have to pack a crib anymore, but you may still find yourself doing some furniture rearranging if your child’s anxiety keeps them from being able to sleep. In hotel rooms with double beds, for example, drag their mattress on the floor over next to your bed to help them feel safer.

4. Pack the Perfect Sleep-Aid Travel Kit Be sure to have the following whenever traveling with kids:

A Favorite Stuffy: Stuffed toys, technically called “attachment objects,” mark an important phase of your child’s development, one where they are learning to self-soothe at night when Mom or Dad’s not around. Snuggling close with Mr. Elephant in a strange new room reassures him that he can close his eyes and still be safe.

A Favorite Pillow: The familiar smell and feel of her pillow from home can help your child sleep better on the road or plane, as well as in her guest bed once you arrive.

A Nightlight: Unfamiliar rooms can be scary in the dark, not to mention the practical issues of finding the bathroom in the pitch-black in a new space. Pack one from home, or if you’re purchasing one for the first time, look for lights that have friendly animal-shaped covers and emit a warm glow.

GoodNites Nighttime Underwear: Bedwetting is one of the most common side-effects of having a routine disrupted. When it happens, kids feel confused and ashamed as they are well past potty training. With a smile and a hug, send them to bed wearing a pair of GoodNites® NightTime Underwear. It looks like their regular undies, but offers absorbency and odor-proofing in case an accident occurs.

Bedtime Books: Reading together is an evening ritual many dads share with their kids. Pack a few favorites from home that are familiar and well-loved. It’s fine to read from your tablet for convenience, but if your kid likes to follow along, skip the electronic devices as they emit a blue light that interferes with sleep signals.

Soothing Music: Before your child’s friends arrive for a sleepover, download a playlist of soft instrumental music, or a white-noise app that plays a steady stream of noise-blocking nothingness. Once the kids are in bed, hit play: The background sounds will help keep them from fixating on every whisper or sigh their friend makes.

A Fan: No wifi access? Borrow an old fan from the house you’re staying in and set it up on a windowsill near your child’s bed. The whirring of the blades helps drown out unfamiliar sounds of creaky floors or doors opening and closing, easing your child into dreamland.

GoodNites® Bed Mats: These absorbent pads are the perfect peace of mind if you’re worried about your child soiling a friend’s guest bed, or if your child is worried about having an accident when a friend sleeps over but is embarrassed to wear nighttime underwear.

A Kid-Friendly Clock: No kid wants the fun to end, but setting up an easy-to-read digital clock allows you to stick to a bedtime schedule. You can either put tape over the minute numbers, or simply say that when the first number on the clock says “8,” that means everyone must be in their beds.



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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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