By: Muhammad Saeroni*)

Children are the mandate of God given to both parents. It means that both parents are obliged to take care of, nurture, educate, and raise them up until they become adult. Second, it is the parents who have the responsibility to color the life of their children. In Islam, children (humans) are not only seen as a physical entity and psychological, but also spiritual. Even, before humans came to the earth, they have already existed in the spiritual world. Surah al A’araf (172) mentions that before humans came to the earth, they have already kept a promise with their God that is the acknowledgment of the Oneness of God, as the one and only God, and humans are His servants. Therefore, humans were born in a holy state or Fitr. But, the spiritual dimension in nurturing the children is never taken into account so far even though the purpose of parenting is to maximize the children’s growth that includes physical, mental/psychological, and spiritual. And this is supposed to have started before the conception happens that is before the occurrence of fertilization when the sperm and egg meet in the mother’s womb precisely since the child is still in the spiritual world till he becomes adult. 

Father’s Role in the Pre-Pregnancy Period

Research shows that parents have an influence on the health and development of their children by inheriting DNA and certain genetic conditions. During this time, the condition related to pregnancy, birth, and child’s health is always associated with the mother (female). Even, when there is a couple who does not immediately have a child after marriage, the woman is the first who is suspected of having problems. In fact, both parents (father and mother) have equal contribution to give chromosomes to their child. 

Father’s health and habits, such as smoking and consuming alcohol can affect his child’s health, even if his wife is healthy, does not smoke or consume alcohol. A father who has obesity, whose genes have been modified, is likely to bequeath the modified gene in his child so that he is vulnerable to obesity too. Alcohol consumption of a father can also increase the risk of a child suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome which can affect the birth of a baby with low weight, brain development disorders, and low cognitive abilities. 

Father’s psychological conditions, such as stress and depression can also affect a child’s behavior when he grows up. Father with a high level of psychological stress may have a child with behavioral disorders. A study in Norway involving 31,000 children with 3% of fathers who were reported to suffer from mental health disorders stated that children whose fathers were suffering from psychological stress had more risk of behavioral and emotional disorders when they were toddlers. These psychological conditions can affect the condition of the body which then adapts through the epigenetic process which eventually can be inherited. 

Therefore, the role of parents in child-rearing can be started long before conception occurs that is since someone chooses his prospective partner. Similarly, the father’s role in preparing his future child can be started by preparing himself as well as possible, whether physically, psychologically, or spiritually in order to get a good child. A father who sees his wife and prospective child spiritually will tend to treat them well, with noble characters because he realizes their existence as fellow servants of God. Only Allah has power over them. Everything that happens is at His will. 

Father’s Role in Pregnancy

Pregnancy and fetal growth in the mother’s womb are extraordinary affairs in human development. Father can learn to understand the stages of fetal development during pregnancy and identify the physical and psychological conditions of the mother in the process. Then identify what good things the father can do to support the process of fetal growth and changes in the mother’s condition during pregnancy. He should give attention to the mother, often ask her to talk and discuss the condition of her pregnancy and preparation for childbirth, care for her nutritional intake and healthy food, check her pregnancy regularly and actively accompany her in consultation with the doctor, so that the father understands the fetal development and the condition of pregnancy of his wife, and the needs of the mother and fetus during pregnancy. Father can often communicate with the fetus while in the womb both physically and spiritually, for example by telling stories or by reciting Quran (multiplying remembrances/dhikr and reciting the verses of Allah) and praying, because at this moment there is an important event that is the beginning of life after the soul is blown into the fetus at the age of about 120 days in the womb (see QS. As Sajadah: 7-10 and Al Mu’min: 67). Therefore spiritual effort in this period is also highly recommended in Islam. Communication of father or parents with fetus can be prenatal education for the child. 

Contrarily, poor treatment toward mother and child during pregnancy can adversely affect her pregnancy and the fetus that she bears. Research conducted by Rifka Annisa in Purworejo to the pregnant mothers shows that bad treatment, such as violence, whether physical, psychological, or sexual, will adversely affect their pregnancy. A mother who has experienced violence during pregnancy may give birth to a baby with low weight and vulnerable to miscarriage. 

During pregnancy, the mother will experience physical and hormonal changes that can affect her psychological condition. Father can learn such condition, so he can be patient and understanding to provide support and attention. 

Father’s Role in Childbirth

One thing that is also very important for a father is when preparing for the birth of a child. The birth process is a mother’s heavy duty, which takes energy, emotion, and thought. Therefore, the support of the father is very important and needed as he will never be able to fight like the mother when she gave birth to her child. Father must prepare a place to give birth well so that the mother feels safe and comfortable, make several scenarios by considering the various possibilities that might occur, for example, a location that is accessible, the availability of personnel to give services needed in accordance with the estimated conditions of birth and other things that need to be considered. 

It is important for a father to learn what things his wife will pass through during the childbirth process so that he can prepare for whatever he can do in such situation. Moreover, the father is often required to be responsible for making decisions. Father is supposed to discuss everything with his wife so that he can understand the wishes and conditions of his wife to make the right decision. In the current context, the presence of the father in the delivery room during the process of childbirth is possible. So, the father must learn what things he can do to help his wife to pass through childbirth process so that he can support his wife and even give guidance to his wife to undergo the process of childbirth healthfully. The presence of the father in the delivery room is very meaningful for a wife who wants to give birth and this can increase empathy as well as the emotional connection between father, mother, and a child.{} 

*) The writer is the Program Manager of

    Rifka Annisa and an Activist of New Male Alliance (ALLB) 

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