A recent study from a coffee growing region of Ethiopia has shown that adequate diet for children correlates with both maternal autonomy and paternal engagement in childcare, two key characteristics of coparenting.
749 mothers/caregivers were interviewed by trained nurses in the Jimma Zone in the south-west of Ethiopia.
One measure of women’s autonomy correlated positively with children’s weight for height: the autonomy to buy large items, such as cattle, land or a house. Other measures of autonomy did not correlate – autonomy to move about with permission, to make decisions about the child and to use family planning.
Father engagement – participation in feedings and in the care of the baby – correlated with height for age of the children. Other measures of father involvement did not correlate: paternal presence and paternal involvement in child health.
The study points to the need to support simultaneously paternal engagement and maternal autonomy. This approach has been described as coparenting or team parenting, where both parents participate, support each other and know when to stand back to allow the other parent to support the child in their own way.
Abate KH & Belachew T (2017), Women’s autonomy and men’s involvement in child care and feeding as predictors of infant and young child anthropometric indices in coffee farming households of Jimma Zone, South West of Ethiopia, Plos One
Photo: Malcolm Manners. Creative Commons.