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A father reading his daughter a bed time story
Mo Bro Matt and his daughter EvieImage by: Movember
A father reading his daughter a bed time story
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28 January 2021

Movember launches Family Man to improve the confidence and mental health of dads

Movember
3 minutes read time

Movember has broken new ground by launching the world’s first online parenting programme designed with dads in mind.

Acknowledging the strong link between fatherhood and mental health, Movember developed Family Man to provide dads with parenting strategies that improve child behaviour and reduce parental stress.

Around three-quarters of men will become fathers at some point in their life.

Previous Movember research has shown that 42 per cent of dads say they feel anxious about being a ‘good father’*. Yet, the rate of male participation in parenting programmes is disproportionate to other genders. Only a fifth (20 per cent) of parents who have taken a parenting course are men**.

With the launch of Family Man, Movember is hoping to support men to be better fathers and to be more confident as they navigate the challenges of fatherhood.

The free, interactive, online programme is comprised of three animated episodes which dads can complete at their own pace.

Each episode features a father as the main character who is faced with a challenging situation such as a battle over the dinner table or a tantrum in public.

Users are given a number of possible ways to respond to the situation, the pros and cons and likely outcomes of each option are carefully explained, using clear and direct instructions.

The pioneering programme was built using funds raised by Movember fundraisers, donors and partners, and is available free of charge to all parents and caregivers.

Jane Endacott, director of digital health, mental health and suicide prevention at Movember says that getting dads more involved in parenting decisions can help to build a stronger and more connected family.

" We know that when dads are fully engaged in parenting decisions, it benefits the whole family. "

“Being a parent can be a very rewarding experience, but it certainly isn’t always easy. Dealing with meltdowns in the supermarket or a child who repeatedly ignores instructions can be incredibly stressful,” said Jane.

“It causes friction at home and over time that can impact the whole family’s mental wellbeing.

“There is a huge amount of research that shows parenting is more effective when it’s done as a team. We know that when dads are fully engaged in parenting decisions, it benefits the whole family.”

The online programme has been adapted from a successful parenting programme called ParentWorks. A study of the programme showed it led to significant decreases in child emotional and behavioural problems and parental mental health problems in those who took part.

ParentWorks was developed out of the University of Sydney by Professor Mark Dadds who has been heavily involved in the development of Family Man.

“Evidence-based parenting programmes are effective in reducing behavioural problems, yet few involve the participation of fathers,” said Mark.

“[The ParentWorks study] showed that this type of intervention was successful in reducing child behavioural problems, dysfunctional parenting, interparental conflict and, (as a result) improving parental mental health.

“We were able to recruit a large number of dads to take part and both fathers and mothers seemed to benefit equally from the programme.

Family Man was designed to be accessible to all families and may be especially useful in rural and remote areas, where resources can be hard to access.

“It can be fully delivered online, without the support of trained practitioners, which is a key barrier for many parents.”

The programme is designed for dads of children aged between two and eight, but can be used by any parent or caregiver – and for children outside of this age bracket.

To learn more about Family Man, visit familyman.movember.com.

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*Fatherhood and Social Connections: Global Research Report of Male Social Connection, Research by IPSOS MORI commissioned by Movember, June 2019.

** Fletcher R, Freeman E, Matthey S (2011) The impact of behavioural parent training on fathers’ parenting: a meta-analysis of the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program. Father J Theory Res Pract Men Father 9(3):291–312