ATP Gen3 HotSpot: A Focus on Fathers

In this edition of ATP Gen 3 Hot Spot, we hear from Dr Jacqui Macdonald, an ATP investigator from the Population Studies team. Jacqui’s research interests include a special focus on fathers’ wellbeing, and their role in children’s health and development. As well as being involved in the ATP, Jacqui also leads a study investigating men’s transition to parenthood. Read more about dads from Jacqui below:

Q1. Why is the ATP involving both mothers and fathers in the Gen3 study?

Both dads and mums play key roles in in their children’s lives, yet most research has focused on mums. This means we know very little about dads. This is particularly important given that family life has changed in recent decades – these days many parents share or swap conventional mum and dad responsibilities. Further, when children come along, there are often external pressures as well as relationship changes. Investigating how both mothers and fathers each manage parenting and family relationships alongside modern-day challenges will help us advise government and family services on who is most in need of support and how best to provide assistance.

Q2. What particular aspects of fathers are the ATP team investigating?

In the ATP, we are investigating the ways in which fathers’ own life histories can influence their experiences of being a dad. For example, we know from other studies that at least one in ten men will experience some psychological distress when they become a dad. On the flip side, we are equally interested in the positive aspects of male development that strengthen the foundations of fatherhood. We are one of the few studies world-wide that can answer questions about both pathways.

Q3. What are some useful resources for fathers who want some help with parenting and family life?

For dads who would like to catch up with other dads, there is a fabulous program called Dad’s Group Inc where you can join an existing group or start a new one. For dads who are struggling with their own or their partner’s mental health problems, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) offers expert support as does Mensline. The Father Hood is an Australian magazine website specifically for dads and The Raising Children Network is jam-packed with information for parents of children of all ages.

Q4. What are fathers asked to do in the Gen3 study?

At Life@1 and Life@4, we invite dads to complete a telephone interview or websurvey, which asks about your child’s health and development, as well as some questions about you. If you are a male ATP participant, we also invite you to complete an observational play session with your child when they are 4 years old at the Royal Children’s Hospital or Deakin University.

Q5. How can ATP dads get involved in the study?

If your ATP child is turning 1 or 4 years old, you will receive an information pack that outlines what is involved in participating. If you are happy to be involved, just fill out the enclosed consent form and send it back to us. The Gen3 team will then contact you to arrange a time to get started!

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