Recently, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC, convened a new Commission on Paternal Involvement in Pregnancy Outcomes, to raise awareness of how expectant fathers can improve maternal and child health. The Joint Center is a leading public policy and research institution whose works focus primarily on African American and other communities of color
In a press release by the commission, Ralph B. Everett, President and CEO of the Joint Center stated that “We believe that the commission will be a catalyst for positive changes in policies, programs, personal behavior and clinical practices.” He also said that “The Commission is initiating important work that will lead to healthier mothers and babies and stronger families.”
Well, it’s about time for this conversation!!! As a fatherhood practitioner and a student in the School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health division, I feel a serious look at this topic is long overdue. Since men have been involved in helping to produce babies since the beginning, it is time to expand the role and parental expectations for them beyond being just a “sperm donor or a wallet.” I realize that this is a generalization, and these may seem like harsh and hard words, however, it is time that we look at every possible positive ally in our efforts to have healthier families and children.
When we look at statistics regarding infant mortality, low birth weights, and at which trimester a young mother seeks medical services for her pregnancy, we see opportunities for more positive engagement from fathers. We need to insure that they are educated, and have a place where they can fully participate in the process in a healthy manner.
A significant challenge we face in looking at paternal involvement can be attributed to our social comfort levels and paradigms about paternal roles, and the role expectations between men and women. Personally, I believe that many of today’s younger males are comfortable with parenting expectations and expect to be positively engaged in the lives of their children. We have a daunting task before us, we can not fail.
I sincerely hope that this Commission will grapple with the complex issues that families are facing and provide thoughtful solutions to this very pressing issue. If you have ideas that they should consider, post your comments here!
Posted by: Clarence Jones