Category Archives: Media and Families

Supporting fathers in the Swedish child health field

I recently published a literature review and meta-ethnography entitled Literature review shows that fathers are still not receiving the support they want and need from Swedish child health professionals in Acta Paediatrica.

This article received a lot of attention when it was first published. For example, Sverige’s vetenskapsradio first interviewed me on the findings. Then TT picked it up, meaning that the story was in every newspaper, from national to local newspapers. Before being interviewed by a national news program, Rapport.

It was further promoted by different organizations, such as Män för Jämställdhet. And other writers/bloggers talked about it.

What was really cool was that Sven Bremberg was asked by Acta Paediatrica to write an editorial which he called Supporting fathers is essential in the child health field

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So I had my 15 minutes of fame.

Now, a year or so later, I have finally had the time to make my first video. I’ve always wanted to promote my research through videos, but haven’t had the time. I’m highly critical of the final product, both of the video and the content, but it was my first attempt and it was a fun learning experience.

In fact, as a researcher, it’s hard to see your work lose it’s nuance. I thought enough nuance was lost when publishing it, as word counts affected how many details I could say. But trying to make a 5 minute video left very little room for nuance.

What I attempted to do was to show four examples–one from each arena within the child health field: prenatal, labor & birth, postnatal, and child health centers. I wanted to show two positive examples of ways midwives and nurses support fathers and two examples where support could be improved. However the two examples of improved support are more on the organizational/managerial level, rather than critiques of midwives’/nurses’ attitudes and support given to fathers.

Perhaps future videos will be made to provide a more nuanced understanding of the support fathers receive in the different child health arenas. Until then, I have my first overview video.

Norwegian Airlines Gendered Safety Video: Father Absence

I recently flew on Norwegian Airlines from Arlanda to Umeå in Sweden.

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You can always tell if it’s a Norwegian Airplane, because they have famous writers, editors, explorers, astronauts, etc on the Vertical Stabilizer.

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I had the window seat. So when I approached my aisle, I slid right in, until “BAM,” I crashed my head into a tv screen. Wasn’t expecting that to be there (or down). I looked around in a bit of embarrassment before taking my seat, noticing that none of the other tv screens were lowered from near the overhead lights. Bad luck (aka pay more attention).

The pilots were great, flight attendants completed their tasks, and everything was successful. But right before take-off, they went over the Safety Information. Only it wasn’t the flight attendants who talked, it was a CGI-type movie (see here).

The movie has three people: a female flight attendant, a mother, and a child. Throughout the video, the mother is shown to help guide and direct her and her young child towards doing what the airline expects of them, rather than the flight attendant having to show the passengers how to buckle a seat belt.

In that respect, I enjoyed the film, as people (parents) are taking responsibility. Hopefully this will send a message that people should take personal responsibility rather than making the flight attendants repeat over and over: “please turn off your phone” or “please buckle your seat” to dozens of passengers (after just having gone over the material).

However, they left the father out of this safety video plane ride. It amazed me that a company called Norwegian Airlines, that travels throughout Scandinavia (and western Europe for that matter), would choose to highlight gendered parenting.

Scandinavia is known for its progressive stance on including fathers in child care; therefore to exclude them from a video that thousands of people see every day is sending a message that it’s only the mother’s responsibility to manage her child’s safety.

Norwegian Airlines–is that really the message you want to send?

Google and Father Gender Equality

There is a new UN campaign that uses Google to make a point on women’s rights by typing in simple search terms into Google (i.e. women can’t, women can, women shouldn’t, etc) and seeing what the auto-fill completes.

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Click here to see the UN Women Ad Campaign.

Naturally, as the ad campaign wanted me to feel, I felt quite appalled at the search terms people use for “women”.

As a fatherhood researcher, I wondered what search terms people use. Unfortunately there seemed to be a lot of songs about fathers, like when I type “fathers cannot” or “fathers can” I get the following responses:

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Two out of the four auto-fills for “fathers can” suggest that people search for the extent that fathers can be involved– they can “support breastfeeding” and they can “be mothers”.

Below are other findings using different search terms:

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These search terms suggest that people are still craving knowledge about the fathers’ role (e.g. “can fathers…”, as well as fighting for fathers’ rights (e.g. “fathers are…”).

However other fill-ins belittle fathers (e.g. “fathers are the curse,” “why father’s shouldn’t change diapers”).

President Obama on Expanding Early Childhood Education in Atlanta

On Thursday, February 14th, 2012, President Obama visited a Head Start preschool in Atlanta before announcing his plan to expand preschool to all four year old who come from families in low-to-moderate income levels.

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President Obama has spoken about expanding Early Childhood Programs before, but has always been met with resistance and this is no exception, as the Republicans in the House are not pleased, saying that this will cost too much money and the effects fade out over time.

The Washington Post has a nice article about Obama’s plan, while NPR provides a nice overview of the topics via the radio. Or click here to see a video of President Obama speaking on Early Childhood Education.

Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe: Lessons from Networking

A couple of years ago I met Dr Mihaela Robila at a conference called the Society for Cross-Cultural Research Conference. By luck, or the fact that we had similar research topics, I gave a presentation with her.

We both were discussing family policy issues–hers on Eastern Europe and mine on Sweden. Two other presenters also discussed their various countries and how family policy affects them.

After the presentation Dr Robila asked if we would be interested in turning our presentations into book chapters. We all agreed that it would be a great idea, and Dr Robila went off to Springer to see if they would like to publish a book on families policies from different countries around the world.

After receiving the go-ahead (that the publisher was interested), she posted on several sites announcing the book and what the criteria would be for each chapter. For example, on the National Council on Family Relations page, she posted a flier asking for interest (and from Springer).

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.48.49 PMSeveral researchers responded to her call, and now a 500 page book has been created entitled Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe. According to the publisher, Springer, the book will be available in mid-June of 2013, and is intended for scholars, researchers, and graduate students who study family policy.


The book contains information on family policies from different countries’ perspectives from 6 continents (aka, all but Antarctica). Of course it doesn’t have every single country, but it does go through dozens of them, including the chapter that I, along with Disa Bergnehr, wrote on Family Policies in Sweden.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): National Averages and Region V Averages for 2010

I have written a number of posts on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). This assessment tool for early childhood education seems to be a hot topic, probably because it is often used in ECE research and because it’s mandated by Head Start (feel free to search my blog by running a search on the homepage for other CLASS blog posts for more information on CLASS, what it can do for you, how it’s used, and the benefits of CLASS).

In this installment though I would like to discuss the 2010 national averages of CLASS and the regional averages for Region V. Region V consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. To see the full pdf posted by click here.

The average CLASS scores for the Nation under the three domains are as follows:

Emotional Support:              5.35

Classroom Organization:     4.74

Instructional Support:         3.36

Region V has the CLASS averages under the three domains are as follows:

Emotional Support:              5.41

Classroom Organization:     4.76

Instructional Support:         3.54

This means that on average, Region V is doing better than the national average on all three domains. Despite the numbers being very close (i.e. Classroom Organization is 4.74 vs 4.76), remember that the smallest difference on a large scale (i.e. 10’s of thousands of children) make a big impact on our overall nation’s education scores. And so Region V should celebrate for being better than the national average! Something to be proud of! However, Illinois and Indiana are below the Regional and the National average for Emotional Support; Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan are below the Regional and National averages for Classroom Organization; and Illinois and Indiana are below the National and Regional averages for Instructional Support.

In other other words, Illinois and Indiana need to up their classroom quality. On the other hand, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin are doing pretty well comparatively.

With that in mind, remember that CLASS scores are out of 7 points on all dimensions (and therefore on all three domains as well). So Instructional Support, for example, as a long way to go before we see the true potential of what excellent Early Childhood Education can accomplish.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): 2011 Region V Averages

I have written several blog posts about the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (feel free to search my blog to read more on CLASS and the what’s, how’s, and why’s of it).

I recently posted the 2010 national averages of CLASS under their three domains. However, today I want to compare Region V’s average scores between 2010 and 2011. Region V consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Did Region V make any improvements in CLASS over the course of the year? Did Region V falter and have their classrooms degrade over the three domains of CLASS? Let’s find out.

Last year (2010), Region V did better, on average, on all three dimensions than the National Average, with Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin leading the charge (see early blog post). Click here to see a pdf of how Region V scored on CLASS for 2010 and 2011, beyond what this blog post discusses.

2010’s averages are as follows for Region V:

Region V has the CLASS averages under the three domains are as follows:

Emotional Support:              5.41

Classroom Organization:     4.76

Instructional Support:         3.54

In 2011, Region V scored as follows:

Emotional Support:              5.24

Classroom Organization:     4.86

Instructional Support:         3.20

This means that Region V dropped on both Emotional Support and Instructional Support, while their Classroom Organization increased. Not good. Not good. The swing for Classroom Organization was a pretty good upward swing by increasing by 0.10. That’s huge! Especially when considering the number of classrooms that would have to change in order to increase by a full tenth of a point.

However, Emotional Support dropped by 0.17 and Instructional Support by 0.34. What this means is that Region V is being less sensitive to the children’s needs (i.e. less smiling, fewer praise, possibly more sarcasm or possibly being demeaning to children, etc) while at the same time decreasing what Region V is actually teaching the children (i.e. less verbal responses, less feedback loops, less thinking and conceptualizing by the children, etc).

The caveat to this is that in 2010 their were only 64 grantees that had CLASS completed on them while in 2011 there were 73. It’s hypothetically possible that the scores didn’t go down or up (or maybe they did), but rather that 2011 shows a fuller picture of the kind of education Head Start children are receiving compared to 2010, since there are so many more grantees participating in CLASS in 2011. As it stands, it’s possible that the grantees who were scored last year increased under all three domains, but since 9 more grantees were graded, it’s hypothetically possible that those 9 scored much lower than all of the other grantees and thus dragged down the average. Naturally the opposite of this could be true as well. Only when there is a full picture of all of the grantees or when we can compare the same grantees to the same grantees over time will we truly know if they are improving or not.