A health worker has shown you this because they  know the importance of parenting partnerships

4 things you can do

Info for Mums - info for mums


ASKING what he is thinking & looking forward to help.

PLANNING what is his roles are going to be can also help.

He may not now exactly what to do to support you

ATTENDANCE MATTERS He can show support by going with you to clinics & classes or by asking you about what is happening

GET SPECIFIC Hints don’t usually get the result you want or need. If there are specific things he can do to support you – let him know.

The messages are really useful

Being a guy, he likes that they were short and sweet

He’d say, “Hey did you know this?” and I’d think, “Cool, he knows about that now”

Info for Mums - info for mums


This is a time when muns and dads think about the person they want to be as a parent and partner.

This is a time to talk about what you want family life to look like a practice working together as a parenting team.


SMS4dads is free. Dads receive information aligned with your baby’s age.

Men are much likely to join if their partners encourage them to sign up.

If he hasn’t already, remind him to join up.

It was good to know he was getting info from a reliable source.

My partner found it really helpful. He hadn’t had experience with babies & wasn’t too confident. He told me he felt better after getting the messages, and felt supported.


Over 8,000 das have joined up to SMS4Dads - and over 80% stick with it

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but I always thought oh, that’s really relevant to where we are at

It was like a mate tapping me on the shoulder
 – it really was

It’s hard to know if you are doing a good job as a parent. I would get a message and go, “OK, well that’s something that I am doing’ – that was really reassuring. Or I’d get a message and know that was something I could work on

Richard’s research revealed possible long-term negative impacts on the children of dads with mental health issues. Fathers’ depressive symptoms in the first year after the birth predicted behaviour problems in their children years later.

“If dads’ mental health has such a dramatic impact then we need to be screening dads for depression, not just mums,” Richard explains.

In response to these limitations, Richard and his team have designed a smart-phone based program that allows mobile connection for new and expectant dads.

Participants receive texts containing information and links, and self-report their mood. If the mood tracker identifies dads as needing extra support, they will be offered a phone call from a counsellor trained in this area.

Following the success of the pilot of the SMS4dads program, Funding was received to enable a National roll-out.

“When dad’s miss antenatal classes or activities, they also miss out on contact and links to other people.  They may never get the chance to say to anyone, look I’m really stressed,” he points out.

“SMS4dads is a way of bringing dads into the health system and keeping them linked in with services and support,” explains Richard.

Richard Fletcher

Associate Professor, PhD

Richard credits a varied career, a talented and innovative team, and much life experience for affording him the insight needed to address the challenges related to actively engaging dads.

After completing his masters in Medical Science, studying epidemiology, Richard earned his PhD focusing on fathers and attachment.

“Fathers are invisible in many places, and that is endemic. Not because people dislike fathers, but because the system is set up to be focused on mothers.”

Some services and organisations are aware of the need to engage dads, but have been unsuccessful in their attempts.

“When people are challenged about this, they generally want dads involved,” Richard affirms.

“Often, however, they just don’t know how to do it.”

Richard works with health professionals on issues related to fathers, and has delivered many antenatal programs for expectant dads.

He credits his own family with giving him an understanding of the role of fathers needed to make his work relevant.

“I have three daughters and two stepdaughters,”

“My kids would say they taught me just about everything I know and they’d be right. They’ve taught me a lot, and still do.”