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Currently, there is limited knowledge on the impact of father-only sessions or parenting programs supporting impending fatherhood. This research explored an antenatal dads program aimed at fathers to assess the benefits of such interventions.
Literature regarding parenting programs and early childhood education initiatives, especially those aimed at children and families in disadvantaged circumstance, have been demonstrated to act as a buffer to poorer health and lifestyle outcomes in later life.
A qualitative research approach was used to explore the experiences of 16 fathers and 6 staff of a community-based parenting program with sessions focusing on fatherhood.
Four main themes were identified from the data regarding the experiences of groups engaged with the Antenatal Dads and First Year Families program. The first theme ‘Knowledge and Capacity Building’ stated that the information provided in the program helped fathers to be better informed and prepared for their impending fatherhood. The second theme was ‘Mental Health Awareness’ and identified the importance of raising awareness of depression and suicide in fathers, including where and how to get help. The third theme was ‘Soft-Entry’ and highlighted how the attendance at one service helped participants to learn about additional services through word of mouth and targeted promotion. The final theme was ‘Feeling Connected’, which helped fathers to feel more connected with the process of childbirth and development including playing and engaging with their children. Overall, the fathers found that the male-only sessions assisted them by supporting frank discussions on fatherhood. Additionally, the study helped identify the advantages of fathers meeting other fathers through attendance in the program, or even other couples in similar situations that helped fathers to feel less lonely regarding their situation.
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