Focus On The Father Too

Engaging teen fathers is a critical element in a holistic approach to improving the outcomes, health and wellness of a child born to adolescent parents.  Children who grow up without fathers are at higher socio-economic and health risks, which include:

  • Poverty
  • Experiencing violence and/or abuse
  • Exhibiting aggressive behaviors
  • Involvement in juvenile/criminal justice systems
  • Behavior/achievement problems in school
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Teen pregnancy

Recognizing and including the teen fathers who want to be involved in a child’s life can help to mitigate these risks.  Clinicians can help these young men develop healthy and enduring bonds with their children.  Effectively involving young fathers requires a clinician to give special consideration to everything from the words they choose to their manner and delivery.  Optimal engagement requires:

  • Providing medically accurate, culturally sensitive information
  • Starting with the perspective that the father wants to be a productive and caring parent
  • Being mindful of any personal biases you may have in regards to teen fathers
  • Helping the teen father’s learn to effectively communicate and advocate on their own behalf
  • Avoiding negative stereotypes, and helping teen fathers deal with stereotypes and stigmatization from their peers and community
  • Ensuring their reproductive health is assessed with testing and counseling offered whenever applicable

In the “Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Program” (ARSHEP), The Physicians for Reproductive Health Programs identify a number of tips to help clinicians and staff in working with young fathers, including:

  • Respect differences in communication styles
  • Recognize/respect different parenting styles
  • Realize the importance of young father involvement in the early years
  • Address barriers to young father involvement
  • Develop recruitment and retention strategies for working with young fathers

Visit the resources section for more information and strategies for effectively including fathers in the coordinated care model for adolescent parents.