By: Kalin Goble, MS
There are more than 1.3 million Active-Duty military service members. And of that, Military OneSource reports that men make up the vast majority of Active-Duty members at 82.8%. Actively working to support men’s mental wellness and to include and engage fathers is vital to the overall readiness and resilience of every member of military-connected families. This work and your guidance are especially relevant in an occupation, community, and lifestyle so tied to traditional expectations of masculinity.
Family Development explored this area of support in a past webinar. Our Engaging Military Fathers to Model Healthy Relationships for their Children webinar featured research and efforts from Equimundo, formerly (and at the time of our 2020 webinar) Promundo. This webinar session used an evidence-informed framework to explore the connections between fatherhood, masculinity, and the impact on families, highlighting the importance of healthy, positive relationships for men and between men. We covered foundational information and tips for best practices to work together with men to challenge societal norms and pressures. Select continuing education credits are still available for a while longer for this session. Watch the archived recording here and earn CE credit now!
Equimundo is an organization dedicated to educating and promoting healthy, positive masculinity. They are “a center for masculinities and social justice” and work locally and internationally to conduct research and create programs for supporting and advocating for men and boys. You can visit Equimundo and find reports, manuals, and other supporting material for service providers for your clinical support and conversations with fathers, men, and boys.
With Father’s Day so recently passed, we wanted to give you a reminder of our webinar and provide resources for working with fathers:
- This resource suite from the Child Information Getaway features helpful apps and links, factsheets, and directions to other resources to educate and encourage strong father/paternal roles and relationships.
- This page from Sesame Street in Communities is all about supporting dads. They note the importance of the dad’s role in healthy childhood development, “Research shows that when kids know how much their dads love them, they feel more confident and have greater empathy.”
- This quick OneOp blog provides reminders, tips, and resources for fathers parenting through deployments.
Promoting Positive Man-and-Parenthood
Balancing parenthood in the military is challenging. The father or caregiver may be away from the family due to frequent relocations, assignments, and deployments. All members of the family are impacted, with the partner usually functioning as a single parent during those times and the military service member being away from their family unit. With 82.8% of Active-Duty military being men, the majority of those away from the home are military fathers.
Fathers that are at home with children while their partner is deployed also face particular difficulties. Single parenthood in the military is often associated with the mother. These challenge ideas of traditional roles of manhood and the “man box,” which we discuss in our webinar. This box reinforces societal expectations of manhood and highlights negative outcomes for those not functioning in socially expected ways. Men challenging traditional ideas of masculinity often face alienation, social stigma, and isolation. Expectations of masculinity and the roles of fatherhood are often felt by most men.
Whether at home or abroad, the support you provide fathers, males, and other paternal figures in children’s lives is vital. Fathers and positive male role models serve as cornerstones in the building of healthy and resilient families and community relationships.