How important are fathers in families?
It is our desire to
provide evidence based research, as well as additional information of
value, to support your understanding and practice of parenting, birth
and family care. As an entre regarding the importance of fathers to
their children and in the family, the following is most relevant.
Here are some facts that may surprise you. They are from
several US government sources. You may be tempted to think - "This may
be the case in America, but people in my country are different." That
may be true, but stop for a second to think about what this really
According to leading official USA government sources,
children from a fatherless home are:
5 times more likely to commit suicide
32 times more likely to run away
20 times more likely to have behavioural disorders
14 times more likely to commit rape
9 times more likely to drop out of school
10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
20 times more likely to end up in prison
A better world starts at home... let's
get fathers connected to their hearts and to their families!
These statistics come from a collection of
agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of
Justice, the Center for Disease Control, the National Principals
Association. Source: CTI
Within or without:
Considering men's needs in the time of
How do we
consider the needs of men who are becoming
fathers? It’s a question women ask of men
who are interested in pregnancy and birth
and it’s a question that can get reduced
to a joke or bypassed by men themselves.
What are the steps we need to take to
begin to consider it seriously?
This article was
published in: THE
PRACTISING MIDWIFE pages 17-18, Vol 12, Dec. 2009, Houser, “Welcoming
Copyright Elsevier 2009
men, at some point in their life, hear a phrase similar to,
"Dear, I have something to tell you … I’m
pregnant." In the majority of
cases this proclamation catches them by surprise.
How a man reacts to a pregnancy
is frequently determined by his maturity and age
and if he feels settled and secure in his
life, career and relationship. If a teenage boy
hears that particular expression, none of
the aforementioned is likely to apply.
"The care provided by the father can be a
significant factor for a mother’s successful
pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding."
"Parental support and bonding during the
‘primary time’ – from conception through
first year – is key to the
health and longevity of not just the family unit but also
the individual relationship between each
parent and the child."
(for service to
men be at the birth of their babies?
26 November, at the invitation of the Royal College of Midwives, I
debated with the famous French obstetrician, Michel Odent, “should men
be at the birth of babies?” The debate was discussed in the national
papers, on the BBC TV news (twice), on radio stations (four times on
Radio 5 Live), in the Australian media and yesterday in
magazine in USA. Two men debating childbirth in front of 400 midwives.
One man long enough in his profession to have delivered the other!
(link to entire
of the Year Awards
(Speech by Patrick
Houser at the awards ceremony presentation by Ricki Lake
We are here today to
honour women, women who serve humanity. A 1995 film called First Knight
characterizes the Arthurian legend of Camelot and the Knights of the
Round Table. In this version the fabled, circular table has an
inscription carved into it. It reads, “In serving each other we become
free”. So, as I see it, we are here to celebrate freedom; freedom to
support and to be supported when the very foundations of the family are
being laid. The primary role of a doula is to be of service to parents,
and by proxy babies, during the most impactful period in the
individuals’ and the family’s life.
(entire speech link above)
speech by Patrick
Each of us spent 9 month inside the body of a
woman. We were influenced by her emotional, hormonal and physical
environment. We then shared our birth with her and had a collective as
well as an individual experience of it and our first months of life
outside the womb. All of this we recorded in our mind, body and
emotions. In part this is the context of Ashley Montague’s statement
from his ground breaking book,
Natural Superiority of Women” and midwives play an important role in
speech link above)
A Campaign for
While no one was looking the very
foundations of our society, our culture and our families have undergone
a metamorphosis. Until several decades ago the activities surrounding
pregnancy, birth and early infancy were left almost entirely to a mother
and/or her healthcare providers.......(link
The Tender Beginnings
of Attachment in Men
by Marcy Axness, Ph.D.
with Trina Straus
A mother's attachment to her baby often begins long before birth. By
the last trimester many mothers feel like they know their babies, having
been enjoying for months their familiar, reassuring movements in the
But what about fathers? What are their experiences during those wondrous nine
months? How does the attachment process begin for them? Is a father's
only option to look on with wonder (and sometimes envy) at the beautiful
relationship forming between his once-doting partner and this tiny
interloper? Is it the extent of his calling to act as back-rubber,
chauffeur and coach? Do these "staff support" roles reflect the
monumental potential influence fathers have in their family's life?
The Science of ‘Father Love’
by Patrick M. Houser
Long gone are the days when a father paced back
and forth in a smoky hospital waiting room while his wife gave birth
elsewhere, in a room full of strangers. This was the archetype during
the mid-twentieth century. Fathers are now more in alliance with the
creative process of pregnancy and birth, and therefore, mothers and
babies. They have also taken up the mantle of being nurturers over the
last several decades and have increased their participation in the
family. This trend is producing astonishing results; ones which are also
based in science. .... (link above)
Just Wait Until Your Father Gets Home
by Patrick M. Houser
Does reading that title give you the creeps, a
knot in your gut and
a shot of adrenalin or does it generate joyful
It was a crisp summer’s morning on the
farm. There was dew on the meadow, a blackbird
boisterously announcing the dawn from the
fallen willow tree and the promise of great
adventure for the day. When I was a child
summer holidays were a full three months long and
made space for many cumulative and
Breast is best...for Dads too
our history mothers breastfeeding their babies has run the spectrum from
feast to famine. Very long ago nearly every mother breastfed; nature
obviously had a good plan. During less distant times mothers
breastfeeding became unfashionable and 'proper society' did not even
consider it. Many only breastfed if they could not afford a wet nurse.
Mothers today often approach breastfeeding with ambiguity and fathers
are having an influence on the process.
for La Leche League International Magazine, New
Beginnings , August 2009)
What about Men at Birth?
by Elmer Postle
An article which provides an overview of
the cultural, social and educational perspectives
of father's presence
at the birth of their children.
Crisis in NHS
Maternity Care Resolved
London, Circa 2012
by Patrick M. Houser
The BBC reported today
an end to the crisis in NHS maternity units across the nation. In an
interview yesterday the Health Secretary stated, “We are pleased to
announce that the beneficial effects of educational programmes,
initially established 5 years ago, are having almost universally
favourable effects on families and our healthcare system”........(link
Fathers Do Make a World of Difference
But, what about at birth?
by Patrick M. Houser
What about fathers at
birth? There is really no discussion to be had about whether or not
fathers ‘should’ be in the room for the birth of their children. This
debate was held years ago, practice shifted and parents now make their
own choices in this regard. Today approximately 90% of fathers are with
their partners during the birth of their children......(link
Fathers' Day 2009
Mothers' Day 2009
By Alexandra Frean, social affairs correspondent of
The Times, December 2003
The way men respond to the news that they
are to become a father for the first time can have a profound effect on
the mental well-being of their children, new research has found.
by Fiona Macrae -
6th February 2008 Daily Mail
Almost half the women who choose to have a caesarean delivery are not
"too posh to push" - they are simply too scared, researchers say. What
does this tell us about how we are educating and supporting our
What the gender equality duty means for maternity services...and
The new Gender
Equality Duty (Equality Act 2006), effective from April 2007, requires
all public authorities, including those commissioning maternity
services, to have “due regard” to the need to “promote” equality of
opportunity between men and women.
“Promoting” means being active and not passive: the statutory equality
body and inspectorates will look for action and positive change as
evidence of compliance. “Having due regard” means prioritising attention
in proportion to its relevance – see the box below for how gender
equality applies to maternity services.(link
(AKA free or unassisted birth)
Wednesday May 9, 2007
Viv Groskop reports on the growing trend for freebirth.
Why would anyone choose to give birth without a doctor, midwife or even
her partner in attendance?
To me, giving birth is as personal as having sex," says
Sarah, 24, from Essex. "You don't want someone else sitting there
watching you." Sarah chose to "freebirth" her first child, now two, at
home. Freebirthing involves giving birth alone, without a midwife and
often even a partner or friend in attendance - Sarah delivered while her
husband was in the next room. "I didn't have any experience of pain,"
she says, "there was just this really strong sensation that muscles were
working. Then the baby's head appeared."
How to have a sensual, drug-free birth
The Independent - 20 March 2007
epidurals. Midwives say they can train women to have births that are not
only drug-free, but pleasurable - and even orgasmic. Anastasia Stephens
Caslake, giving birth was not the terrifying, painful ordeal most women
experience. Far from it. The midwife, from Wallington, south London,
says she found it blissful, even orgasmic. "I found giving birth very
sensual," says Caslake, 44, who didn't take painkillers for the birth of
either of her sons, Aaron and Tomas, now 18 and 17.
erogenous zones were stimulated. I was making sounds very similar to a
sexual climax. And it was a very definite climax. I was doing the most
feminine thing a woman can do and it felt fantastic."(link
What Good Are Dads?
The key points from
the research published by Fathers Direct, NFPI,
Working with Men and
Newpin Fathers Support Centre on June 13 2001.
fathers can suffer from pregnancy symptoms, UK research shows.
Experiences of the First Year as Father
Research from Sweden
A view from inside
the family - Becoming a father(link
NOCIRC is the National Organization of
Circumcision Information Resource Centers, an organization of
diverse individuals committed through research,
education, and advocacy to securing the birthright of
male, female, and intersex infants and children to
keep their sex organs intact.
Website also has a very important and
Info Pamphlet download