In many societies around the world fathers are thought as the financial providers and the parent that gives out punishments. There is a general understanding that a child goes to the father for money and the mother for love.
But a new worldwide campaign is trying to change this view. Organizers of the Men Care Campaign say it improves the lives of men and their children and it helps reduce violence against women. Jim Tedder reports.
South Africa is one of 17 countries where the Men Care campaign is taking place. It was launched in 2011. Jean-Marie Mkurunziza's wife was pregnant at the time.
"We normally meet once a week."
Mr. Mkunrunziza leads group meetings for Men Care.
"We go to the clinic and also in the community and inviting the expectant fathers to be part of this group and take responsibility in their family."
Part of that responsibility is helping their wives with tasks around the house.
"We give them homework, to go home and do something special, which they had never done before, cleaning the house, or cleaning the dishes. So, last week, one of my team members came with his wife, who is currently about to give birth. Then, the wife was very happy."
Vidar Vetterfalk is a Men Care Campaign organizer from Sweden.
"I attended a group while we were waiting for our first child."
The Vetterfalks live in South Africa and have adopted two children there, a boy and girl. Mr. Vetterfalk says the Men Care group teaches men how to share the responsibility for child care.
"Me and my wife, we did that. Every second night we took care of the child. So at least one of us had slept in the morning."
Promundo is an international group that helps support the campaign. Gary Barker is with Promundo's Washington, DC, office. He says to get the best results a father should get involved during his partner's pregnancy.
"We're trying to get them inside the clinic, get the health workers to see men as allies in this process, because our research also shows if we engage men from that moment, they feel like, ‘wait, the world expects me to be involved in my child's life for the long term even if they are not with the partner later on."
Mr. Barker says the father's group is just one part of the campaign. For greater outreach, local campaign partners take the message to the media through films, public service announcements and signs. They spread information about how and why fathers should get more involved in their children's lives.
"Men who report closer relationships with their children, who get involved in the daily care, report they they've got better mental health. They are less likely to be involved in delinquency or crime. They are less likely to abuse alcohol. We have data from Sweden that they actually live longer. Sons who see their fathers do this are more likely to grow up and, themselves, respect women's rights and believe in gender equality. And they're less likely to use violence against their partners."
The Men Care Campaign hopes this fatherhood movement will spread and improve families and societies around the world.
I'm Jim Tedder.