Delaying Other Pregnancies
One issue that fatherhood programs have not always addressed sufficiently is delaying additional pregnancies.18 While this issue affects many dads, young fathers who are trying to acquire basic education and job skills are particularly affected. Having more than one child at a young age multiplies the challenges young men and their children face. Almost one-half of men who father a child as a teen have more than one child by the time they are 22–24.19 Fatherhood programs could provide information and help fathers and their partners communicate about ways to actively plan, time, and space future births so they happen by choice, not by chance. For example, programs can:
- Educate fathers on the importance of pregnancy planning and effective birth control methods.
- Resources are available from national organizations such as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Advocates for Youth, and Planned Parenthood. The National Campaign has a Planning for Children Module that includes a handout, Man Talk about Sex and Birth Control, and other resources that can be used to guide discussion groups with fathers.
- Community reproductive health agencies are potential partners. They could help with referrals and staff of these agencies could be invited to speak to groups of fathers or hold sessions in neighborhood clinics so young men will know about, and feel comfortable accessing, their services.
- Include pregnancy planning in case management. One way to start this conversation is to ask fathers to identify when and under what circumstances they would want additional children. If they want to prevent another pregnancy until they are better prepared to support another child, they can use condoms correctly and consistently, initiate conversations with sexual partners about birth control, and negotiate the use of effective birth control.
- Encourage fathers who are in committed relationships or married to the mothers of their children to work together with their partner to plan future pregnancies. This provides an opportunity to strengthen their relationship by sharing responsibilities and making joint decisions about what they want to accomplish individually or as a couple before enlarging their family.
- Help fathers who are not in committed relationships think about the impact of unplanned pregnancies and the challenges that can accompany having another child outside of a stable relationship. Talking about attaining educational or employment goals that lead to increased financial stability; connecting them with mentoring programs or post-secondary education and training opportunities, and generally providing caring guidance can be particularly helpful.