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Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives.

Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 2nd


by Mohrbacher, N.


2014; 488 pages; $54.95/$110.95

This article is intended for family-based policy makers, researchers exploring fathers' roles, and, more specifically, childbirth educators who have a desire to broaden their knowledge and fold the male's role more seamlessly into a child's life. Readers will quickly recognize that the topic around males being viable parts of the parenting process can no longer be ignored; males are no longer only breadwinners but capable and efficient caregivers along with their female counterparts. Within their latest book entitled Handbook of Father Involvement (second edition), authors Cabrera and Tamis-Leminda dissected the anatomy of male involvement in a child's life.

Early in their book the authors provided an operational term for father types that include fathers who reside with their biological child; fathers who do not live with their child due to separation from the mother; stepfathers who reside with their non-biological child; and stepfathers who no longer reside with their non-biological child. Fathers' living arrangements with children are imbalanced among the races. Data showed 71% of White children, almost 66% of Hispanic children, and merely 33% of Black children resided with both biological parents. Single fatherhood is becoming more prevalent. It was asserted that men (biological fathers and non-biological fathers) who did not have a father in their youth and experienced disruptive family structures were more willing to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood.

A perspective of particular interest was the level of adjustment to parenthood that is experienced by both men and women. It has been well documented that women go through myriad physical, psychological, and behavioral changes both while pregnant and in caring for a new infant. Cabrera and Tamis-Leminda analyzed how fathers experience similar changes in preparation for the journey into and during fatherhood. Mothers are said to naturally have the skill to soothe a newborn; males mirror similar traits. Males have the ability to not only offer comfort and protection but are able to speak slow and tenderly and even adjust the pitch of their voice to be more inviting to a child. With such noteworthy attributes, childbirth educators should consider creative ways to enhance the male's role.

Cabrera and Tamis-Leminda delve into the importance of co-parenting to harmoniously raise a child. Co-parenting can be described in several ways which include fostering and promoting closeness with the child, remaining transparent with inter-partner relationship communication, and assuring amicable childrearing practices. In addition, their research highlighted occurrences where co-parenting success could have the potential to be negatively impacted by a mother or the situation could even become hostile. These instances include when a father has never or briefly resided with the child and/or has not been financially responsible for a child. As one could surmise, disruptive inter-partner relationships between parents can potentially influence the non-residential parent's access to the child and undermine that parent's overall parental role.

The book provided readers with "cookie cutter" fathering styles within African American, African Caribbean, Latino, and Asian populations. The authors stated that some styles of parenting were distinctive among races. For example, within the African America and African Caribbean population, out-of-marriage births are ordinary, and it is common to have two or three "baby mothers." Cabrera and Tamis-Leminda stated that since having "baby mothers" was ordinary and commonplace, there was no need for programming to emphasize marriage. Rather, programming should focus on elevating economic stability, improving parenting skills, and cultivating interpersonal skills between parents. As a reviewer this assertion was alarming, as economic stability and exposure to the social connections that marriage provide could potentially increase successful childrearing outcomes. The book affirmed that African America and African Caribbean caregivers rely on relationship similar to extended families to assist with childrearing.

Latino fathers were highlighted next and in some respects their parenting styles were different from their counterparts. At a few points throughout the book, Latino fathers were mentioned as being highly involved in their children's lives from the prenatal period even more so than their White counterparts. Also, this involvement was regardless of White children being more prone to being raised in two-parent households. There were several contributing factors including being highly acculturated that may nurture more engagement among Latino fathers. The authors suggested that children who grew up in poverty with a father who invested time in their child had a higher probability of having better outcomes. They did not elaborate on the term "better outcomes," although one could surmise they meant socioeconomically. In conclusion of the section highlighting Latino fathers, emphasis was directed on improving the health status of the child. In addition, it stated that research points to unfavorable health outcomes compared to their White counterparts. As a reviewer, I believe this affirmation should have been similarly highlighted amongst African American and African Caribbean fathers. Current healthbased literature and research show that African America and African Caribbean populations suffer the highest burden of poor health outcomes including higher mortality rates from cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and strokes.

This book has a few weaknesses. Some drawbacks were that the authors could have conveyed key emerging trends such as fathers becoming an integral part of the childrearing process after incarceration and gay males raising children. It would have been advantageous to make correlations between a father's health status outcomes and lifestyle behaviors and that of his child. Nevertheless, it would have been advantageous to make correlations between a father's health status and lifestyle behaviors and that of his child. Several strengths in the book include its readability and hence its ability to keep readers engaged. Cabrera and Tamis-Leminda should be applauded on their ability to provide up-to-date references to literature as well as providing readers with policy implications for practices and future direction. Overall this book should be considered a mainstay among childbirth professionals looking to learn new ways to support inter-partner relationships.

reviewed by Anika C. Thrower, PhD MPH CLC

A Pittsburgh Pennsylvania native, Dr. Anika Thrower obtained her undergraduate degree in nutrition from Norfolk State University and was awarded both a master's and PhD in public health from Walden University. She has expertise in behavioral based holistic health and is an instructor with Springfield College in Springfield Massachusetts.
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Author:Thrower, Anika C.
Publication:International Journal of Childbirth Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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