News

Fathers key to tackling child health crisis, say senior nurses

Fathers are being left out of involvement in their children’s healthcare with potentially devastating consequences, international nursing experts will hear today.
Birds_&_Bees

Fathers are being left out of involvement in their childrens healthcare with potentially devastating consequences, international nursing experts will hear today.

The warning comes at a time of growing concern that childrens health is heading for crisis point, with rising levels of obesity, and mental and sexual health problems among young people.

Experts at the RCN International Centenary Conference (ICC) in London will argue today that increasing the involvement of fathers in their childrens health could make a significant difference. It would also reflect a move towards balancing parental responsibilities in society.

Keele University lecturer in adult nursing Tom Laws will claim that

Fathers are being left out of involvement in their children’s healthcare with potentially devastating consequences, international nursing experts will hear today.

Birds_&_Bees
By discussing sexual health issues with their children, fathers can help them make informed decisions as they grow older

The warning comes at a time of growing concern that children’s health is heading for crisis point, with rising levels of obesity, and mental and sexual health problems among young people.

Experts at the RCN International Centenary Conference (ICC) in London will argue today that increasing the involvement of fathers in their children’s health could make a significant difference. It would also reflect a move towards balancing parental responsibilities in society. 

Keele University lecturer in adult nursing Tom Laws will claim that opportunities for men to participate in their children’s care are limited because healthcare services tend to be devised for mothers and female family members. 

Dr Laws will say: ‘Children’s health services have not kept up with the rest of society. Fathers are playing a more hands-on role in family life than ever before, yet children’s healthcare is built to work specifically with mothers.

‘At the moment, children’s health problems are escalating and involving fathers could make a big difference. Nursing staff can spark this change by defining a new role for contemporary fathers, encouraging their involvement and equipping them with the skills they need to support their children’s health.’

Sexual health

The conference will also hear that sexual health is an area in which fathers can help, according to studies by Worcester University.

Nurse and senior lecturer at the university’s Institute of Health and Society Clare Bennett undertook research into the fathers of prepubescent children.

She found that, while fathers are involved in their children’s daily lives, they struggle to discuss issues such as relationships and reproduction.

Dr Bennett will tell the ICC that fathers can help to protect their children from exploitation by being open with them about sexuality. This can also enable their children to make more informed decisions on sex and relationships during adolescence.

Dr Bennett will say: ‘Many fathers worry that by discussing sexual health issues with their children they risk taking away their child’s innocence. Yet by being open and honest with their children, fathers can protect them now, and support them to make more informed and safer decisions as they grow older.

‘We’ve found that fathers need to be given permission to discuss these types of issues. Nursing staff can play a big role in bringing fathers into the conversation and encouraging them to explore these matters with confidence.’

Dr Bennett will add that nurses needed to go beyond accepted norms giving prominence to mothers in children’s health, and find ways of involving fathers wherever appropriate.

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs