Engaging Dads: Fatherhood Institute Seminar


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Seminar Presentation from the Evidence Based Parenting Programmes and Social Inclusion conference held at Middlesex University, 20th September 2012

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  • With early parenthood comes: elevated rates of depression, stress, relationship conflict, decreased romance & affection Once relationship troubles start, frequently continue to spiral down Irony: This is the time of children’s greatest vulnerability.
  • Engaging Dads: Fatherhood Institute Seminar

    1. 1. Engaging Fathers The ChallengeDavid BartlettFatherhood Institute20th September 2012Middlesex University
    2. 2. Why Engage With Fathers?• Fathers and mothers both have a profound affect on their childrenswellbeing through: (i) their direct relationship with their children, and (ii) how they behave as a ‘parenting team’ and as a couple• Becoming a parent impacts very substantially on both men and women,and on their relationship
    3. 3. Positive longterm impact of father-child relationshipChildren with positively involved fathers tend to have:• better friendships with better-adjusted children• fewer behaviour problems• lower criminality and substance abuse• higher educational achievement• greater capacity for empathy• higher self-esteem and life-satisfaction Early father involvement predicts greater involvement as children grow (Flouri 2005; Pleck and Masciadrelli 2004) This is true whether or not parents live together, and for both biological and step fathers (Dunn 2004)
    4. 4. Father-child relationships: a key protective factor• If fathers do lots of infant care, babies whose mothers workfull time are unlikely to suffer any disadvantage (Gregg &Washbrook, 2003)• Children tend to be affected by their mother’s poor mentalhealth (including Post Natal Depression), but a good andclose relationship with their father tends to protect them fromthe worst effects (Hall, 2004)• Children in families suffering from multiple disadvantagetalk and learn better when their fathers or father-figures aresatisfied with parenting, provide financial support and engagein nurturant play (Black et al, 1995)
    5. 5. Impact of father on mother–child relationship • Labour and birth is likely to be more positive for mothers if their partners have been prepared well (and therefore tend to be) more active participants (Diemer, 1997) • Child-mother attachment is more secure when child-father attachment is secure (for review see Guterman & Lee 2005) • Post-natal depression in mothers is associated with a poor relationship with her baby’s father, and his low involvement in infant care (for review, see Fisher et al 2006). • Initiation and duration of breastfeeding strongly influenced by fathers’ support on the (Swanson & Power 2005) • Teenage mothers parent better when their baby’s father gives them good support (Unger & Wandersman, 1988). And as the father disengages, the young mother’s stress increases (Kalil et al, 2005)
    6. 6. Why Team Parenting is importantTeam parenting means working well together as parents. Both father & mother:• place the child firmly at the centre of their world view• become expert at hands-on caring• communicate their expectations and feelings• agree key parenting values and methods• deal constructively with conflict• support each other’s parentingPoor team parenting means children tend to:• feel bad about themselves• not get along well with others• show poor motivation to work hard at school• have reduced capacity to cope with frustrations and difficulties• be less likely to stay away from drugs as teenagersThis is important when parents live together AND when they live apart (Gable & Sharp, 2011)
    7. 7. New parents are highly interdependent• 96.4% of new parents are married/live together/ or live apart but say they are a couple/good friends (Kiernan & Smith, 2003)• 78% of teenage mothers register the baby’s birth jointly with the father (DCSF/DH, 2009)• 70% of today’s new mothers turn to their partner for emotional support, compared with only 47% in the 1960s (GMTV survey, 2009)
    8. 8. Transition into ParenthoodElevated rates of depression, stress, marital conflict;decrease in sexual intimacy, affectionOnce relationship troubles start, frequently continue tospiral downIncreased likelihood that the couple will separate in thetwo years post birth
    9. 9. Relationship satisfaction after the birth• 18%-33% of couples report an improved relationship (Gottmanet al, 2010; Cowan & Cowan, 1995; Belsky & Kelly, 1994)• The rest experience relationship satisfaction decline: often neverrecovers (Doss et al, 2008; Lawrence et al, 2008)• Satisfaction decline more marked now (Twenge et al, 2003)• Involved fathers of infants tend to be more satisfied and adjustmore quickly to fatherhood (Barclay & Lupton, 1999)• Traditional and unequal family and work roles are associatedwith parental stress and relationship breakdown (Cowan &Cowan, 2003)
    10. 10. Some research summaries on the Fatherhood Institute website:Fathers and Smokinghttp://www.fathersdirect.com/index.php?id=2&cID=579Fathers and Breastfeedinghttp://www.fathersdirect.com/index.php?id=2&cID=581Fathers and Postnatal Depressionhttp://www.fathersdirect.com/index.php?id=2&cID=580Young Fathershttp://www.fathersdirect.com/index.php?id=13&cID=575Main Research Summary: ‘The Costs & Benefits of Active Fatherhood’http://www.fathersdirect.com/index.php?id=0&cID=586
    11. 11. The benefits of working with both parentsWhen both parents attend, changes in parenting tend to be:• more substantial and rapid (Rienks et al, 2009; Cowan & Cowan, 2009)• more long-lasting (Cowan & Cowan, 2009; Lee & Hunsley, 2006; Bagner & Eyberg, 2003; Webster-Stratton, 1985)• in BOTH parents’ behaviour & relationships (Bakernans Kranenburg et al, 2003)The couple relationship is more stable (Cowan & Cowan, 2008) and satisfying(Bishop, 2008).Both parents are more satisfied with the parenting intervention (BakernansKranenburg et al, 2003).If fathers are NOT included in parenting support/programmes, they mayundermine or fail to support changes the mother is trying to introduce at home(Patterson et al, 2005; Manby, 2005; Swain, 2007)
    12. 12. FATHERS who take part in parenting support develop• greater knowledge & understanding of child development (Pfannensteil & Honig, 1988)• more and higher-quality involvement with child (Beal, 1989; McBride, 2990; Pugh,2008)• greater parental competence (Magill-Evans et al, 2007)• improved communication skills (Levant & Doyle, 1983)• greater sensitivity to babies’ (and partners’) cues (One Plus One, personalcommunication)• less use of spanking and less intrusiveness (McAllister et al, 2004)• increased parental confidence (McBride, 1989) and satisfaction (Wilczak & Markstrom,1999)• positive changes in view of self (Bayse, Allgood & Van Wyk,1991)• increased acceptance of child (Landreth & Lobaugh, 1998)
    13. 13. SEPARATED FATHERS who take part in parenting support develop• better understanding of children’s experiences of separation• greater understanding of how conflict affects children• positive behaviour change towards children and mothers• closer and better relationships with their children• more child support paid• better communication with mothersAND• are perceived by mothers as more supportive (for review, see Hunt, 2008)
    14. 14. The benefits of engaging fathers in parenting support: CHILDRENCHILDREN whose fathers have engaged in parentingsupport exhibit:• Better achievement at school (for review, see Goldman, 2005)• More positive behaviour towards father (McBride & Rane, 2001)• More positive / compliant behaviour with mother (Webster-Stratton, 1985)• Healthier behaviour and improved school readiness (McBride & Rane, 2001)• Improved self-perception (for review, see Meek, 2007) N.B. The more the father participates, the greater the improvements in the child (McBride & Rane, 2001)
    15. 15. The benefits of engaging fathers in parenting support: MOTHERSMOTHERS whose partners have been engaged in parentingsupport :• Feel more supported (Diemer, 1997)• Exhibit greater sensitivity towards their child (Bakernans- Kranenburg et al, 2003).• Show a more secure mother-child attachment (Bakernans- Kranenburg et al, 2003).• Are more satisfied with the couple relationship (Cowan & Cowan, 2008)• Are more satisfied with the parenting intervention (Bakernans-Kranenburg et al, 2003)• Are less depressed (Feinberg et al, 2010)
    16. 16. Encouraging fathers to attend parenting coursesBe systematic:• Routinely meet both mum and dad at registration, and talk about local services and why they matter to children and parents• Offer mothers information about local services for the other parent(s) of their children• Tell dads about parenting services and courses – explain why this can help his children (it does not mean he is a bad parent)• Be responsive - you may see fathers fleetingly – or in different contexts.• Keep information near the entrance, with a sign making clear that mums and dads should ideally both take part.• Ask local mums and dads to help spread the word to other mothers AND fathers. Ask them for their advice on reaching local dads.• Use Father’s Day and other ‘family days’ to encourage dads to engage.• Don’t forget dads who don’t live with their children all the time. They and the mum can come to different courses if they wish.• Make sure all publicity material targetes and addresses both men and women (eg have photos of both men and women actively caring for children, and quotes from dads and mums about how they benefited from services). If you send information out by post/email/text, you should routinely address it to both mums and dads.• Monitor how effective your agency is at informing both parents about your services, and the gender balance of service users. Discuss regularly at team meetings, and consider whether you need to change anything.
    17. 17. Engaging New FathersThe birth of a new baby is a golden opportunity to engagedads. Expectant and new fathers tend to:• re-evaluate their own health risk behaviours (Blackburn et al, 2006b; Westmaas et al, 2002; Lupton & Barclay, 1997)• make more healthy choices (Brenner & Mielck, 1993)• (when they receive emotional support) experience better physical and emotional health (Jones, 1988)• Handling infants generates hormonal changes in men which promote attachment and reduce aggression (Feldman et al, 2010)
    18. 18. Structure of parenting coursesAll courses should include a focus on promoting‘team parenting’ and be designed to appeal tofathers and mothers (and other carers), including:• putting the child at the centre of their lives – andwhy both parents matter• how to communicate andwork well together as a parenting team• knowledge and confidence in key parenting skills• space to reflect on their relationship and ‘who does what’
    19. 19. Gender Aware Delivery• Include each partner in a couple equally.• Give eye contact to both• Welcome both• Listen to both• Validate mothers and fathers experiences• Don’t make assumptions about who does what or who is more capable
    20. 20. Raising Happy Babies Birth - 1Raising Happy Toddlers 1 - 4Raising Happy Children (separated families) 1 – 4Online version of Raising Happy BabiesAll our courses focus on promoting ‘team parenting’ andare designed for fathers, mothers and other carersAll facilitators trained to be gender aware.
    21. 21. How the courses work• Based on well-evaluated programmes from the US and Australia• Offer mothers and fathers a safe, structured space to:(i) think and talk about what they want for their child, their parenting values and their expectations and experiences of early parenthood.(ii) find solutions together to everyday childcare issues(iii) work together as a child-centred parenting team• Follow-up homework, exercises, materials and online forumsdesigned to enable participants to try out some of the ideas andtechniques introduced in the face-to-face course, and reflect on theirlearning.• Raising Happy Children (for Separated Families) helps parents who areseparating or separated, to forge a healthy working relationship and stayconnected with their children.