By Jorge Barrera, Regina Leader-Post, 19 January 2008
The outdated stereotype of the distant dad means fathers are still largely excluded from studies of children and their families, says a Dalhousie University doctoral student researching ties between a child’s pain and parent reaction.
Clinical psychology student Erin Moon, 27, said fathers are mostly missing from research. Questionnaires and tests are all based on the responses of mothers, who have traditionally been cast in the role as the one most involved in the care and nurture of children, said Moon.
“The research has not kept up with the changes in society, with fathers being more and more involved in children’s lives,” said Moon. “Almost all the previous research has been conducted with mothers. So working with fathers requires a bit of a shift.”
Moon plans to study how parent reaction influences the way children deal with pain. She wants to focus on whether fathers react differently to a daughter or a son in pain, for which little data currently exists.
Forty families of three — including a child, father and mother – - will be tested as part of her study at Halifax’s IWK Health Centre. In the study, each child will be told to put a hand in cold water for as long as they can. Moon plans to observe how the child is affected by the father’s and mother’s reactions.
Victoria, B.C. dad Ben Isitt has no doubt what his reaction would be.
Isitt, 29, said he would have a difficult time seeing his two- year-old daughter in pain — even if it was during an experiment.
“My natural feeling is to want to protect her from pain and remove her from causing that. I would find it quite difficult to see her experience that,” he said.