Making Father Inclusive Practice happen...

This webpage is designed as an induction tool for staff involved in community health/welfare/counselling contexts and how their program/organisation can best involve fathers. Organisations and programs are encouraged to complete the whole FIP process to ensure best service delivery outcomes. Click here, for more information.

Cowan and Cowan (2009) identified four common issues in child protection research:

A meta-analysis of studies on attachment interventions designed to enhance positive parenting behaviours found that those that included fathers were, on average, more effective than those that involved mothers only. Including fathers in such interventions will be more effective if the unique value of father-child relationships is well understood and taken into account.

Unless there are contra-indicators of family violence, involvement of the fathers that surround the children’s lives will mainly have significant impacts for the mothers, children and men. Cowan’s (2005) research, using random allocation and a control group,  indicates that involving fathers directly in family support, home visiting and couple programs resulted in the following:

Significant forces that shape men's lives

There are many different forces that shape men's lives. These forces include level of income, experience of poverty, level of education, social determinants (conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age) community conflict, war and the impact of their own family's upbringing.

Practice experience indicates that men's lives:

Watch the following segment and reflect on  what connections are important in the lives of men you work with?

How can you build on discussions with men about these important connections, the choices and consequences they make and how generativity is expressed in their life?

1. Boy-man-father

For more information about generativity, click here 

For more information about the quiet revolution that has occurred with fathers, click here

What is generativity? click here

What makes generative fathering work? click here

What do fathers need?

Reflect on:

Most fathers shy away from being in the spotlight when they are the primary focus of service delivery. An example of this is, play group programs appeal to a broader range of men when they are called a 'Kids and Dads playgroup' rather than 'Dads and Kids' Playgroup. This is due to their desire for a stronger connection with their child/ren is in the foreground of the title. While this may seem a small difference, language plays a significant difference in making good service delivery happen.

At the end of it, a range of programs with specific target groups is required to create strong families and communities.

Watch the following segment and reflect on how your program achieves its purpose. 

2. Pre-natal class example

Separate programs or inclusive programs - including mothers as well as fathers?

There is currently a debate about if fathers' programs should be inclusive of partners or specifically only target the men.

Watch the following segment and reflect on the unspoken stories in men's lives:

3. Separate-inclusive services

Father specific programs are often a step along the way to having programs for mothers and fathers. The specific focus of targeting men may enable them to develop their confidence in what is important for their family. Often with both parents together in the early stages of a group program, especially if underlying conflict already exists, one parent is more likely to dominate and one parent is likely to isolate their experience and understanding of what is happening in the family.

Also, many men do not know much about what other fathers experience, so providing some father specific programs, builds on this curiosity and the development of normalisation and proactive (rather than reactive) responses.

However at the end of the process, teamwork parenting needs to be the primary goal.

When is it good to have programs for all mothers and fathers and when do they need to be father specific? 

What can services do?

Watch the following segment and reflect on:

4. What can services do?


Key messages for fathers

A key aspect is for practitioners to highlight to men the significance of the role they play in their family's life. Most men are not aware or trivialise this significance.

Watch the following segment and reflect on:

For more information about key messages for fathers regarding the impact they have, click here or click here.

5. Key messages


Click here for an overview of the research that dads and workers need to know - Summary of Published Fatherhood Literature

For a copy of the Fathers Matter Report UK - click here.

Appreciation for this supporting the development of this webpage is given to Peter Slattery, Michael Webb, Anthony Brown and the Men's Health Information and Resource Centre.

For feedback about this webpage or for information about training workshops in your local region, contact us.

Click here, to join the working with men and generativity learning group. It is a multimedia site that shares ideas about generative change and working with men with articles, with a special focus on working with culturally diverse fathers and family separation, 15 good practice exercises, video segments and forums to provide the best in on-going learning and reflection.


Topics: -16 Posts: 4 16-Mar-2013
by Andrew


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