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Don’t forget Dad: How to engage fathers in their children’s care :

October 3, 2018

Editor's note:The 2018 AAP National Conference & Exhibition  will take place from Nov. 2-6 in Orlando.

Whether his name is Daddy, Papá or Pops, he’s vital to his child’s health and development. Pediatricians, therefore, should seize the opportunity to engage fathers early and often.

“Dads matter a lot, and simple interventions with dads can have a long-term impact,” said Michael W. Yogman, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health and chair, Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics, Mount Auburn Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Yogman will present an interactive group forum titled “Don’t Forget the Dad: Successfully Partnering With Fathers (I1121)” from 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, in room W224F of the convention center. He will be joined by Michael Hannon, Ph.D., assistant professor of counseling at Montclair State University, N.J., and a member of the AAP Family Partnership Network.

Research demonstrates that fathers can have a positive impact on their child’s development. For example, they can encourage independence and foster language skills in young children. Older kids with involved fathers do better academically and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors than those with absent fathers. Studies also show that fathers can provide invaluable support to mothers.

“We have good data that if mothers have postpartum depression, if a father is not depressed himself, he can really buffer that in a great way,” said Dr. Yogman.

During the session, Dr. Yogman and Dr. Hannon will present cases to illustrate strategies pediatricians can use to engage fathers.

For example, demonstrating how to give a bath and change a diaper when the baby is still in the hospital nursery can have a long-lasting impact on making fathers comfortable handling babies, said Dr. Yogman, co-author of AAP clinical report Fathers’ Roles in the Care and Development of Their Children: The Role of Pediatricians.

Dr. Hannon will discuss the importance of engaging fathers of children with special health care needs as well as nonresidential fathers.

“Hopefully in this session, pediatricians will learn about the important role fathers play in promoting healthy, resilient children,” Dr. Yogman said, “and the unique issues fathers face in becoming more involved.”

For more coverage of the 2018 AAP National Conference & Exhibition visit and follow @AAPNews on Twitter and Facebook.

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