Tag Archives: Swedish child health

A Discussion on Fatherhood with Swedish Child Health Professionals

Starting in 2012, a conference is organized once a semester for those child health professionals in Stockholm working in the prenatal clinics, child health centers, preschools, and social services with children (aged 0-6) and their families.

The conference was organized by Åsa Heimer and Catharina Neovius.

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A large hotel where the conference was held in Rinkeby-Kista.

In March of 2015, the conference topic was on the importance of fathers. Mats Berggren from Män för Jämställdhet (Men for Gender Equality) and myself would be giving the main lectures for the day. 

Those in attendance are all Swedish-speaking (while I’m not so much), and they mainly work with non-native Swedish families (around 80% of their families are not originally from Sweden), with many of them working in the Rinkeby-Kista area (Stockholm).

I didn’t see a huge difference in how these professionals should treat fathers, based on their country of origin (except to note that some fathers would be less involved and feel like they should be less involved in childrearing compared to Swedish fathers). However, since the Swedish child health field typically doesn’t involve fathers via providing them with support (at least not to the same extent as mothers), I felt like the advice could be more general and simple:

                   Treat mothers and fathers similarly, by giving                                                    them each the individual support that they require.

So I made both an English version (not presented) and a Swedish version (presented).

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Click on the picture to see the English presentation.
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Click on the picture to see the Swedish presentation

The audience, however, was much larger than I expected. There were maybe 100+ professionals eagerly listening. In addition, they didn’t want to hear research, but rather more practical advice on how and why to interact and involve fathers–so that’s what I tried to gear my talk towards.

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Having worked in Quality Assurance in Head Start for three years, you come to quickly realize that no one likes their jobs being critiqued. So I was super-glad when several audience members spoke up acknowledging the problems they face, watching professionals take notes, and having all of my printed copies of the powerpoint snatched up.

I then received a wonder gift package for presenting 🙂

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My only regret was not approaching these professionals individually and in small groups afterwards to get their feedback–after all, I’m not lecturing to hear myself, but because I believe that behavior changes are important, but difficult and that we all need to work together to make the important changes that we desire.

Neurobiology of Parenting Conference (2015): Swedish Child Health Fields’ Treatment of Fathers

The Neurobiology of Parenting Conference (2015) took place in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference was organized by the Swedish Society of Medicine, but also with Acta Paediatrica (an academic journal), Sällskapet Barnavård, John Lind Stiftelsen, and Karolinska Institutet

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Swedish doctor holds his cigar: A bygone time of medical astuteness that’s still amply displayed at the Swedish Society of Medicine.

There were probably 150-200 people, with researchers from around the world attending.

Great view from the windows of the Swedish Society of Medicine.
Great view from the windows of the Swedish Society of Medicine.

I have been locked into the psychological world of parenting, only minorly breaking out into public health and sociology. Therefore, learning about the neurobiology of parenting was a true gift and opened my eyes to a wealth of research that I hadn’t contemplated (or as the colloquial axiom goes: you don’t know, what you don’t know).

Naturally, a history lesson helped kick-off the conference.

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It was interesting to see all of the research on skin-to-skin contact.

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As well as the research on the alleged plasticity of the human brain with respect to parental caregiving. Apparently our brains can change based on the amount of caregiving we do (or at least that’s a basic way of stating intricate diagrams).

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In other words, fathers can be just as caring and sensitive as mothers, but they need to take on primary parenting roles for these chemical changes to occur. This flies in the face of previous research which suggested that mothers gain their maternal instincts by virtue of being pregnant and the chemical changes that occur during gestation.

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I presented less on neurobiology (since that’s certainly not my field) and more on the Swedish child health field’s attitude and (lack of) support they provide fathers.

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My poster based on my PhD dissertation.

Despite my poster not being on neurobiology, I ran into several other researchers who were interested in my research and who, themselves, conducted very similar research….so I fit right in.

The 2.5 day conference may not have been my area of expertise, but I still learned a lot, and will use a lot!