Parenting Teamwork: The impact of a fathering intervention on mothers and infants in VietnamA multi-faceted, relationally-focused intervention involving group and individual pre-and post-natal counseling, print resources, and community resources encouraged 390 fathers of newborn infants in Vietnam to responsively support mothers and work with them as a parenting team. Both partners completed questionnaires pre-birth and 1, 4, and 9-months post-birth on measures of breastfeeding support, exclusive breastfeeding duration, relationship quality, and infant development. Compared to 412 comparison group couples, intervention couples evidenced greater father support, especially in terms of helping and responsiveness to the mother’s needs. This support predicted longer exclusive breastfeeding duration, improved relationship quality, and higher levels of infant development at 9 months. Sensitively working together with mothers as a coordinated team enhanced couple’s relationship functioning and improved children’s developmental outcomes.
Influence of father-infant relationship on infant development: A father-involvement interventionWe examined the extent to which fathers can be taught and encouraged to develop positive relationships with their children, especially in infancy, and the effects of this fathering intervention on infant development. A multi-faceted relationally-focused intervention was used to assist fathers in Vietnam to engage in responsive direct and indirect involvement with their infants and work together with the mother as part of a parenting team. Fathers and mothers from 13 communes in a rural and semi-urban district were recruited to the intervention group. Intervention fathers received group and individual counseling before and after birth, an interactive print resource, community messages about fathering, and the opportunity to participate in a Fathers Club. Couples from 12 comparable communes in a non-contiguous district were recruited to the control group. Fathers and mothers completed questionnaires at the pre-birth recruitment and at 1, 4, and 9-months post-birth. Intervention fathers demonstrated greater increase in knowledge and attitudes regarding father-infant relationships. Both fathers and mothers reported that fathers engaged in more affection, care-taking, and play in the early months of their infants’ lives and fathers felt more attached to their infants right from birth. A developmental assessment at 9 months showed that intervention infants demonstrated higher levels of motor, language, and personal/social development. This study demonstrated that fathers can be taught to interact more sensitively, responsively, and effectively with their newborn infants. Their increased interaction and emotional attachment appears to lay the foundation for enhanced infant development.