Levels and Quality of Paternal Involvement
This chapter focuses on fathers’ involvement in prenatal care, pregnancy, and the birthing process across cultural communities. Because most maternal and child deaths occur in the developing world, men have an important role to play in ensuring that women have adequate health care during pregnancy and subsequently that children do too. In cultural communities where gendered ideologies about men’s roles in the family are still fully entrenched in patriarchy, fathers had the lowest levels of participation in basic caregiving activities. Parental warmth and affection are the sine qua non of sensitive caregiving, and are displayed through such behaviors as kissing, hugging, caressing the child, and saying positive things to the child. It was estimated that in most of the world’s cultures parents are quite accepting and extend appropriate levels of warmth to children. Two behaviors, father–child holding and being in close proximity to children, are important for the development of attachment bonds.