“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.”
~ Pam Brown, Australian Poet ~
This presentation highlights the ways fathers feel left out during the perinatal period across different spectrums. Nick touches on the importance of the father-infant relationship and the risk factors that contribute to declining mental health. Despite the Sisyphean task most fathers face, providers who engage with fathers during the perinatal period can lessen the challenges these fathers endure and improve outcomes for father-infant, family, and society at large with a few, simple changes in perspective and practice.
The transition to fatherhood is an amazing, life-changing event that is wrought with excitement, anticipation, happiness, anxiety, fear, dread, and stress. Providers who interface with fathers during the perinatal period are in a unique position to influence the father-infant relationship, relationship with the baby’s mother, the father’s focus on his own health, and the ultimate responsibilities inherent to all of those. Unfortunately, most fathers (particularly BIPOC fathers) are constantly and repeatedly faced with disruptions of the relationship with their baby, as well as barriers and obstacles to their best intentions to be a good father, supportive partner, and responsible parent. Dr. France Francarolo and colleagues (2016) coined the term “professional gatekeeping toward fathers” and described restrictions on the role of the father by professionals. Additionally, they provide suggestions to promote the father relationship and the impact on child development. We will follow their lead and attempt to do the same in this presentation.
Meet the Presenter
Nicholas Kasovac, MA, IMH-E®, OTS, studied Infant Mental Health and became endorsed as an Infant Family Specialist. He has worked in Pediatrics for over 20 years in a variety of capacities/settings, including Pediatric Intensive Care, Pediatric Outpatient, Pediatric Pain Clinic, Child Development, Home Visiting, and Infant/Toddler Mental Health. He was trained in the HealthySteps approach to family support, and was on the first team to facilitate a community-based model for NICU grads. He also created and managed a team of home visitors for Healthy Families AZ serving families with children at-risk. Since his training as a HealthySteps Specialist in 2004, Nicholas has developed programs for Fathers including The DAD Project: Fathers & Infants, The DAD Project: Toddlers & Fathers, Milk Men: Dads and Breastfeeding Support, and Baseball Tummy Time.
Nicholas has presented workshops on Fatherhood topics at WAIMH Congress 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland and WAIMH Congress 2018 in Rome, Italy. He has been selected to present at WAIMH Congress 2020 in Brisbane, Queensland Australia (rescheduled for June 2021). Nicholas has taught CE classes on Fatherhood topics at Erikson Institute in Chicago and consulted with the Fussy Baby Team to increase father participation. He also teaches Conscious Fathering classes (prenatal for fathers to be) at Seattle area Swedish Medical Centers through Parent Trust for Washington Children. Currently, he is completing his studies in the graduate occupational therapy program at University of Puget Sound - Tacoma, WA.