The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released a significant report on the importance of dads to the health and well-being of their child, and to the health and well-being of the mothers of their child. The report arrives 12 years after the AAP's first report on the importance of dads.
While even that first report was quite tardy to recognize the importance of dads--a ream of research stretches back nearly five decades on dads' importance--what's significant about this report is the recognition by the AAP that pediatricians must be more proactive when it comes to involving dads in the care of their child.
As a result, this report issues 14 "opportunities" for pediatricians to involve dads in the ongoing care of their child. The challenge, however, is whether pediatricians will take advantage of these opportunities. As the authors of the report note:
The field of pediatrics remains slow to incorporate these findings into practice and into the conceptualization of family-centered care. Although mothers continue to provide the majority of care for the well and sick child, fathers are more involved than ever before. Yet, cultural and structural biases still play a role; pediatricians still see a majority of mothers at clinical encounters and therefore may not have changed their practices to be family-friendly in terms of available hours, comfort in interacting with men, and addressing fathers' unique concerns regarding their children.
Therefore, dads shouldn't passively wait in the hope their child's pediatrician will proactively involve them. So I've turned nine of those opportunities into tips for dads on how they can take charge of their own involvement and, in doing so, gently (or not so gently) nudge their child's pediatrician to proactively involve them in the future.
- If the pediatrician always or almost always addresses mom during visits, tell the pediatrician to address you as well.
Here's a bonus tip. Tell the pediatrician about the AAP report! They might not know about it.