The father of all research projects

Breadwinner. Authority figure. Affectionate at times, perhaps, but in a remote sort of way.

Playful, loving, cooing, willing and able to change a diaper when duty calls.

With a younger generation of men in developing countries being exposed to new ideas and changing cultures, the somewhat distant father figure of the past is transforming into a hands-on parent who spends quality time and energy with his young ones.

For nursing associate professor Lynn Rempel, that’s great news.

“The children of most involved fathers are found to have higher IQs, are more successful in school, have better emotional regulation and are less likely to have behavioural problems,” she says. “Even within the first year, you can see differences in cognitive development in infants who have responsive fathers who are engaged in play and other activities.”

Rempel is a member of a research team that aims to increase the involvement of fathers in their infants’ and toddlers’ lives as a way of improving children’s physical, cognitive and emotional development from conception to age two.

Funding the team is a $270,000 grant from the Saving Brains program, an initiative of Grand Challenges Canada, a program funded by the Government of Canada that supports “bold ideas with big impact in global health.”

Rempel and her colleague from St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, John Rempel, will be conducting research co-led by Tran Bich from Hanoi’s School of Public Health in Vietnam.

Their project – titled “Fathers Involvement: Saving Brains in Vietnam” – entails implementing a number of activities among 400 couples (and their 400 children) in several communities.

Activities include:
• small group antenatal and postpartum education through community health centres
• individual, home-based counselling
• multimedia messages about the importance of breastfeeding and fathers’ support for this
• “Fathers Clubs” developed with the labour trade union and the Farmers Association to provide peer support.

One goal is to train a few men to lead “Fathers Clubs,” which would encourage men to interact more with their children, Rempel says. In a past research initiative, groups of participants took part in a father contest, complete with poems, songs and skits, to see “who loves his wife and child the most” by encouraging mothers’ breastfeeding, Rempel says.

“The Saving Brains grant allows us to scale up work that’s already been happening in Vietnam and to support research in a way that will make it possible for us to do a strong test of whether father involvement can make a difference and how we can affect father involvement in Vietnam,” Rempel says.

She added her team hopes to create a model or “template” of activities that can be used to increase father involvement in other developing countries and that can be flexible ,according to the comfort level of men and their partners.

The Grand Challenges Canada Saving Brains program focuses on interventions that nurture and protect early brain development in the first 1,000 days of life. “It is designed to help millions of children in developing countries who fail to reach their full development potential due to such factors as malnutrition, infection, birth complications, or a lack of nurturing and stimulation at an early age,” says Laureen Harper, Saving Brains honourary chairwoman.

“Impoverished brains result in impoverished countries,” says Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. “For a wide range of sad, all-too-familiar and preventable reasons, an estimated 200 million children under five years old in the world’s 112 low- and middle-income countries will fail to reach their brain’s full development potential.”

A total of 14 projects will be implemented in five African, six Asian and three Latin American/Caribbean countries. Seed grants of $270,000 are given to partner organizations in these countries. Three other seed grants are given to Canadian organizations.

– See more at: http://www.brocku.ca/brock-news/?p=24927#sthash.Vg6USkhv.dpuf

 

REPOSTED WITH PERMISSION FROM BROCK UNIVERSITY.

Tagged: Community, Culture, Health, Annoucements, Stories

Share: Print

Leave Comments

Blog Posts

A matter of will ...

Cherri Greeno | January 14, 2015

New research from the University of Waterloo explains why our brains often fail to turn intention into action, and why this gap can be overcome. read more »

Adjusting goals is not ...

Deborah Durbin | January 12, 2015

On January 1st many people set bold exercise goals for themselves as part of their New Year resolutions. Come Valentine’s Day, though, most of those goals have fallen by the wayside, tossed aside along with empty heart-shaped candy boxes. read more »

How to set realistic ...

Araina Bond (with files from Patchen Barss) | January 9, 2015

Making New Year’s Resolutions and sticking to them are two very different things. Two Ontario researchers have each discovered different ways to make reaching goals more likely. read more »

Let shopping be your ...

Noreen Fagan | December 18, 2014

Here’s a fun fact – Canadians eat more sushi than the Japanese. At least that’s what Mark Cleveland says, and he should know. Cleveland is a professor of marketing at Western University. His research focuses on the integration of cultures on a global scale and the effects of cosmopolitanism, which according to Cleveland is, “the cultural openness and the ability to successfully navigate between different cultural groups.” In other words, people who want to understand and experience other cultures do so by fully immersing themselves in that culture. “You want to live the life of cultural authenticity, by trying to understand the culture through that culture’s eyes,” he says. Cleveland’s interest in cultural openness started when he was a Master’s and then a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in Montreal. He started researching how new immigrants, primarily ethic minorities, adapted to Canadian culture by finding ways to combine their traditional identities, culture and values into mainstream society. “I have always believed that just because you learn another culture does not mean you give up the original culture. You can be bicultural or multicultural and the two can reinforce each other,” says Cleveland. “Not only are minorities affected by cultural exchange but the majority are as well.” Canada’s multiculturalism prompted Cleveland to extend his research into globalization, with a focus on how global cultures affect majority populations around the world. In the last decade Cleveland has conducted research in 15 to 20 countries exploring cultural exchange and cosmopolitanism. He says a person no longer has to travel abroad – although it helps – to become cosmopolitan. A person can experience different cultures in the comfort of their own home or neighbourhood, simply by watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing videos on You Tube or buying and consuming different products. “When we buy products, and types of brands and the reasons for buying them, they are like extensions of ourselves,” he says. So how do the sushi–eating Canadians fit into all of this? Cleveland believes if a person wants to experience cultural authenticity they will gear their shopping towards achieving that aim. In other words, a person is not going to go for the North American version of sushi (think Californian Roll), when they can get the real thing – think Unagi. He says there is probably a general global trend towards cultural openness as people become more educated and have more exposure to other cultures but he warns, there is another side. “A lot of people are really opposed to what is happening with Globalization and they see their culture as under threat,” says Cleveland adding that the threat is heightened when people feel insecure. If people are feeling secure in their surroundings (financially, emotionally and physically), the more open they are to cultural exchange and the more cosmopolitan they become. Being cosmopolitan however, does not mean buying local is a thing of the past; in fact what makes cosmopolitans stand out is that they strive for cultural authenticity. “The more cosmopolitan you are means you are not only interested in preserving differences but also interested in the environment, like getting the best locally,” says Cleveland. In terms of cosmopolitanism Cleveland thinks Canadians are more accepting of other cultures. “We are a new country, most of us go back two or three generations and have one or two grandparents born somewhere else. We have a more fluid identity,” he says, adding that as large cities go, Toronto is well integrated. “We are not just living in these areas dominated by our own ethic group, there are more opportunities to mix, and I think that allows us to become more open-minded.”
More Blogs »