NEW YORK, 7 June 2018 – As Father’s Day is celebrated across nearly 90 countries this month, UNICEF today launched a new parenting site as part of its ‘Super Dads’ campaign recognizing fathers’ role in their children’s early development. UNICEF is calling for more support for fathers globally, including for policies that give parents the time and resources they need to spend quality time with their children.
“More than just a second parent or an extra set of hands, fathers are one of the best child development resources we have, and if we are going to give children the best start in life, we all need to fully recognize and utilize this role,” said UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development Dr. Pia Britto.
The online site will bring together fathers from across the world to share their parenting tips, their struggles, their needs, and their successes. It will also feature ‘mini parenting master classes’, the first of which features UNICEF Global Chief of Early Childhood Development Dr. Pia Britto explaining to Sesame Street’s Grover the importance of protection, stimulation and good nutrition for healthy brain development.
The ‘Super Dads’ campaign is intended to remind parents everywhere that when fathers nurture their young ones in their earliest years of life – by providing love and protection, playing with them, and supporting their nutrition – their children will learn better, have less behavioural issues, and become healthier, happier human beings.
UNICEF is also using Father’s Day to renew its call to break down cultural and financial barriers preventing fathers from spending quality time with their young children.
“There is no time more critical for brain development than the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and there’s a growing body of evidence that fathers hold a huge stake in this process. Yet this evidence is not being matched with investment in the support that fathers urgently need to step-up and be the best they can be,” said Britto.
Advances in neuroscience have proven that when children spend their earliest years of life – particularly their first 1,000 days – in a nurturing and stimulating environment, their brains can develop at optimal speed. These neural connections determine a child’s cognitive ability, their health and happiness, how they learn and think, their ability to deal with stress, and their ability to form relationships. Good nutrition, protection, play and love in early childhood spark these neural connections in children’s brains.
Research suggests that when fathers are able to bond with their babies from the very beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in their children’s development, and will have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.
The Lancet’s Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale, launched in October 2016, revealed nearly 250 million children under 5 were at risk of poor development due to stunting and extreme poverty. The Series also revealed that programmes promoting nurturing care can cost as little as 50 cents per capita per year when combined with existing health services.
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About ‘Super Dads’
The ‘Super Dads’ initiative is part of UNICEF’s #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign, which aims to drive increased understanding of how children’s environments and experiences in early childhood can shape their future health, well-being, ability to learn, and even how much they will earn as adults.
As part of the campaign, world-renowned photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas travelled with UNICEF to capture fathers’ earliest moments with their newborns in delivery rooms across five diverse countries – Guinea Bissau, Mexico, Thailand, Turkmenistan and the United Kingdom. UNICEF hopes the series will encourage fathers across the world to play a more active role in their young children’s early years.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.