Raising and educating children always invite dynamic conversations and raise complex questions including how to become "good" caregivers. Across different cultures, fathers have been associated with being the family's economic provider and mothers as the caregiver. So a scenario of a father taking care of a child may incite doubts and suspicions about the father's suitability as a caregiver.
Perhaps the recent movie Incredibles 2 can be a good example of a father taking care of a "special" child (Bird, 2018). In the beginning of the movie, Bob Parr, who is a father and a superhero, thought that parenting was not that difficult at all. However, after spending some time with his "special" children, he realized that parenting is the toughest job he'd ever encountered. Then, after a significant time of learning and adjustment, he began to adapt to his parenting life and learned how to interact with his "special" children. Going back to reality: Can fathers overcome these difficulties and break the stereotyped role of a father in the family?
A STUDY AFFIRMING SKEPTICS
According to a previous Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) study, they answered yes to the question that father might be a potential caregiver to the children with hearing loss (Huang & Chen; paper presented at 2018 Hearing Across the Lifespan 2018). They assessed 10 caregivers (five fathers and five mothers) by using two multidimensional 5-point Likert scales to investigate the differences in parental teaching and behavioral skills between the different genders of caregivers in three different times. These follow-up assessments, due to the child participate in auditory intervention duration at 12months (time 1), 17months (time 2), and 20months (time 3), will be given and rated by AVT therapists.
The results showed that there was a significant interaction between caregivers' gender and time points by using generalized estimating equation (GEE) method since the limitation of the sample size will not be the primary consideration factor. The results indicated that fathers received higher scores than mothers in the dimensions of instructional goal-settings skill (Wald χ2=4.116, p=.042 ) from the parental teaching skill scale, and emotional and behavioral skills( Wald χ2=6.532, p=.011 ), parenting behavior (Wald χ2=3.894, p=.048 ) from the parental behavioral skill scale after six months training of AVT. Furthermore, the fathers' language usage skill was not significantly higher than that of the mothers (Wald χ2=3.658, p=.056 ), but the fathers' improvement rates in language usage is higher than that of the mothers' from time 2 to 3(Father: M = 4.2; Mother: M = -1). As the figure shows, the fathers showed improvements in all domains since time 1 to time 3.
Due to the growth trajectories obtained from GEE analysis, fathers were detected on the trajectory for increased levels across four specific domains after enrolling in AVT for six months. Study results showed that fathers would also be suitable to be their child's language facilitator. As the length of training session increased over time, their performance was like what mothers can contribute. These results show the great potential of fathers as caregivers of children with hearing loss.
About the authors: Tang-Zhi Lim is a research assistant at the Speech and Hearing Science Research Institute of the Children's Hearing Foundation in Taiwan, where Pei-Hua Chen is a research fellow.