Welcome to the website on European Fatherhood.
We present information on men, equality, and fatherhood in Europe.
The content is for professionals working in the area as well as anyone interested in the subject.
Men and fathers are increasingly expressing their wish to be included in family education programmes. Educators should respond to this wish and should design programmes which address the needs of fathers and focus on issues relating to the transition to fatherhood.
The potential benefits are significant. Men who function well in the role of father, stimulate the social development and functioning of the child. Including men and fathers in family education programmes is not taking away from women and mothers. Instead, father participation adds another dimension of support that can be crucial for families facing the sometimes overwhelming challenges of parenthood.
Men too can suffer postnatal depression – especially when their partners do, but generally twice as many women are diagnosed. Historically the explanation for this was the female physiology. However, recent studies indicate that men can display gender specific symptoms and the concept of Male Postnatal Depression must be understood on its own terms.
Research has shown men to be just as capable as women of building close affectionate bonds with their infants and in providing the care needed for healthy psychological and social development in the child. Social structures must be created to make it easier for men to take time out to be with their infants.
Men are keen to learn a broad range of caregiver skills and become better fathers, but often do not participate in family education. Reasons are both practical and psychological in nature, and point to the need to redesign family education – both in terms of curriculum, structure and process.
Symptoms of Male Postnatal Depression are generally similar to women's. However, some men show different symptoms, which have not previously been accepted as depressive symptoms. The father's psychological well being significantly affects the child's condition;it is therefore of great value and importance to improve our ability to read these symptoms.
Information and understanding are essentials in overcoming gender stereotypes surrounding male postnatal depression. They are also key preventive measures, and should be provided prior to birth. Helping men who show symptoms of postnatal depression is of utmost importance as it supports the family as a whole.
Male only learning sessions help men prepare for the practical and emotional challenges of becoming a father. Mothers too benefit from such sessions. They encourage fathers-to-be to talk more openly with their partner about feelings and expectations, and help the couple better manage the often very trying first year of parenthood.
In Denmark special training programmes have been set up to help health care and social service professionals assist men who are becoming fathers. Educational programmes have been run for midwifes, nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social counsellors. Seminars and lectures have been held for GPs and obstetric doctors. A framework is suggested.
Men's increased participation in pre- and postnatal activities presents an argument for educating health professionals about male mood disorders related to the transition to fatherhood. The aim is to help health professionals become more attentive to men with depressive reactions to fatherhood and help them become more proficient in interacting with these men.
Transitions hold great learning potentials, and the transition from manhood to fatherhood is no exception. The benefits are multiple – both for the father-to-be, the child and the partner. But realising this potential requires further research into how best to design, run and evaluate male-only programmes and sessions.
Services for assisting men in their role as fathers are still not well developed enough. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding of fatherhood issues and a need for greater skills of intervention. Fatherhood specific communication and services are needed to support men's transition to fatherhood – both in terms of men’s specific needs and occasional difficulties during this profound change in their lives.
With support from the European Community - Programme relating to the Community Framework Strategy on Gender Equality (2001-2006).The information contained in this website does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission.