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The Role of Fathers in Children’s Health

Tova Walsh

Darryl Davidson

Craig Garfield

Tova WalshAssistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Darryl DavidsonMen’s Health Manager, City of Milwaukee
Craig GarfieldProfessor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and attending physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago where he directs the Family and Child Health Innovations Program (FCHIP)

Fathers play an important role in children’s health and development. Fathers’ own health and health behavior influences the well-being of their children and partners as well as fathers themselves. Healthcare and child and family services providers can help promote optimal outcomes for children and families by involving and supporting all caregivers, including fathers. This webinar:

  • Provides insight into the role that fathers play in child and family health.
  • Addresses the experiences of fathers in prenatal and pediatric care settings, and identify strategies for providers to engage expectant and new fathers.
  • Discusses strategies for promoting fathers’ own physical and mental health, and supporting fathers to model positive health behaviors for their children.

Recording of the Webinar

This webinar was presented in cooperation with the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.
See our YouTube Fatherhood and Men’s Health playlist for other webinars in this series.

Highlights from the Webinar

(Clicking on slide image will take you to the highlighted section of the webinar recording)
When thinking about the role of fathers in children’s health, we consider not just biological fathers, but also stepfathers and father figures in families ranging from married to cohabiting, single parent, and recombined.
Partner support during pregnancy is associated with positive maternal and child outcomes.
Fathers’ health behaviors such as immunization have direct impacts on infant and child risk. Unhealthy habits in fathers may be especially impactful while health conscious fathers may benefit families and children.
Qualitative studies with expectant and new parents show that mothers and fathers want fathers to be involved in prenatal and pediatric care and that that participation is meaningful to fathers. However, some fathers feel marginalized or uncertain of how to engage in care settings.
Removing barriers to father participation in children’s health is important. Such barriers may be related to beliefs about fathers’ roles, provider behavior, competing responsibilities, or tension with the child’s mother.


Child Development & Well-Being, Child Maltreatment & Child Welfare System, Children, Family & Partnering, Health, Health Care, Parenting


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