Family Man parenting program
Suf Patel, Movember’s Director of Fathers and Relationships says, “one of the reasons that fathers have not attended parenting programs is that they perceive them as being developed for mothers and are not appropriate for fathers".
"Family Man is an interactive, online program comprised of three animated ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style modules that navigate common tricky parenting situations," he explains.
“In each 15-minute module, the main character is a father who is faced with a challenging child behaviour in different situations.”
The modules are designed to equip parents with the skills and tools they need to deal with difficult behaviour in children aged two to eight years old.
Suf explains the numerous benefits that parents experience after completing Family Man.
“Increasing ability to positively handle challenging behaviours; improving parental teamwork, stress levels and happiness; improving parenting confidence and competence; improving parents’ general coping skills and mental health; and, reducing behavioural problems in kids, which may be seen in as little as two weeks.”
While the program focuses on meeting the need to increase fathers’ involvement in parenting programs, mothers are also encouraged to participate.
“The program still works if only one parent participates in it,” explains Professor Dadds.
“But where there are two parents and they work together as a team, you get better rates of improvements in the child’s behaviour and the parent’s competence, satisfaction, mental health, etc.
“Parenting is really a team sport.
“If you have one parent who is doing it and one who is undermining it, that terrible.
“If you have one who is involved and one who isn’t, that’s not great.
“But if you have both working as a team, it’s fantastic.”
Family Man can just as easily be used by separated families.
“Even though divorce rates in Australia are still high, parents are overcoming their relationship difficulties and are working better together as a team in the interest of their children,” says Professor Dadds.
Suf explains that Family Man can be used by each caregiver individually.
“Each caregiver can go through the course themselves; these strategies are more effective when all caregivers (parents, grandparents etc) are using the same strategies,” he says.
The dud dad - negative stereotypes
Suf explains that while the role of a father is changing within the family unit, fathers are more likely to be negatively stereotyped.
“One example is the ‘idiot dad’, who is a bit hopeless and doesn’t know how to parent," he says.
"This one is quite common in sitcoms and across advertising, for example: Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin from Family Guy or Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig.
"The alternative stereotype is the ‘dangerous, deadbeat dad’, where people tend to think of domestic violence, alcohol abuse or fathers that neglect their families."
Suf explains that as we embrace the idea of the modern father - a father who is more involved in parenting their children - we need to acknowledge that fathers can be a positive influence in their children's lives.
"Most fathers are motivated and keen to be involved, putting more time into caring for their children and they see that role as more central to their identity," he adds.
"The last thing we want to be doing is shaming parents, whether mothers or fathers.
"We need to empower them and present them with good role models, so that they can be great parents to the next generation."