Not enough parenting interventions target men or make a dedicated effort to include them, despite fathers’ substantial impact on child development, well-being, and family functioning, researchers report.
The team’s review of global publications found only 199 that offered evidence on father participation or impact.
“Despite robust evidence of fathers’ impact on children and mothers, engaging with fathers is one of the least well-explored and articulated aspects of parenting interventions,” says lead author Catherine Panter-Brick, professor of anthropology, health, and global affairs at Yale University.
“It is therefore critical to evaluate implicit and explicit biases against men in their role as fathers manifested in current approaches to research, intervention, and policy.”
The researchers’ results show that an overhaul of program design and delivery is necessary to get the necessary good-quality data on father and couple participation and impact.
The researchers suggest that in both research and community-based practice, a “game change” in this field would consist of unequivocal engagement with co-parents.
This would strategically improve upon the exclusive mother focus that marginalizes fathers and other co-parents in the bulk of parenting interventions implemented to-date. The team recommends a guide to develop best practices for building the evidence base of co-parenting interventions.
Additional researchers contributed from Yale and the Fatherhood Institute in London.