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 participating in pre- and postnatal activities. This, in turn, presents a need for health professionals to become more aware and attentive to the role of the father, the issues of fatherhood and to male specific issues relating to their transition from man to father.
Health professionals will need communication and other related skills if they are to successfully invite and include fathers in the full range of birth related activities. They will also need to become better at paying attention and addressing the psychological problems that can affect fathers during their transition to fatherhood.
Fathers-to-be participate increasingly and are often very engaged in every aspect of pre- and post-natal services and activities. However, health care services often maintain guidelines and practices, which favour the mother and directly or indirectly exclude fathers from participating in birth related activities. New guidelines and practices are required.
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.
An untreated male postnatal depression can have many and serious consequences for the child and the family as a whole. Effective therapy should focus on the man's relationship with his own parents, and his current relationship with his child. Different schools of therapy have all shown themselves to be effective.
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.
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.
Men, fathers and the issue of fatherhood is underrepresented in all aspects of child related research. It does not reflect changes in men's understanding of themselves as fathers and the psychological, sociological, economic and health related effects of these changes. This article maps the need for future research projects.
Eberhard Schaefer, MA
Iva Šmídová, Ph.D.
Svend Aage Madsen, Ph.D. (Head of project)
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.