Researchers investigating the significance of fathers in young children’s lives and the benefits of providing support to new dads are about to start a new phase of their study.
The research by USC and Dads Group Inc – a not-for-profit organisation that has established groups and events for fathers in over 70 places across Australia – has already considered the changing roles of fathers and examined how support groups operate and the services they provide.
USC researchers Dr Ben Lane, Mary Gregory and Dr Nicholas Stevens and Dads Group Inc CEO Thomas Docking now want to know what support new parents, especially new dads, would find helpful.
Dr Lane said the research team had launched an online survey for dads, mums, and other primary caregivers, particularly those with a child under five years old. The survey is at: www.surveymonkey.com/r/USC_DGI_survey
“We are interested in finding out about the experiences of new fathers and mothers in the broad community as well as those who have had experience with social groups, such as dads’ groups,” he said.
“The purpose is to gain insight into the needs and challenges of new parents and understand how dads’ groups and events might best support new fathers.”
Dr Lane said the team had previously developed a model of how Dads Group Inc’s facilitated events can empower fathers to feel confident in parenting, build relationships, support their partner, and build supportive learning communities.
“The model identifies how progress towards these goals can be measured, for example, by the quality of relationships, improved parenting competence, enjoyment and fun, and societal outcomes, such as improved mental health, reduced isolation, and cultural change around equitable parenting,” he said.
“While we know something as simple as sharing a coffee and conversation builds rapport and trust relationships, we can now identify how those trust relationships contribute to higher order and essential functions of dad’s groups, such as the transfer of knowledge between members and building a community of support.
“And then we can see how these functions also foster cultural change about the role of new dads – all ultimately contributing to the vision of supporting new fathers, mothers, families and of course children.”