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6 Ways to Involve Moms in Involving Dads

As responsible fatherhood programs continue to increase dads’ motivation to be more involved, responsible, and committed in their child’s life, one challenge has become even more apparent – how do we help custodial moms support the dad’s involvement?

Certainly, there is no easy answer to this challenge especially in situations where the relationship between the mom and dad has negative emotional energy surrounding it.

However, it all starts with helping both parents understand that healthy co-parenting is going to increase the well-being of their children and helping moms understand their tremendous influence over the dad’s motivation to be involved.  Studies have demonstrated that when mothers perceived their partners as motivated and competent to engage in child care responsibilities, fathers were more involved in childcare.

Here are 6 specific strategies that you can consider to address this critical father involvement issue:

  1. Encourage the healthy development of the father-mother relationship among clients, whether or not the father and mother are together.
  2. Work with mothers to involve fathers in the lives of children. Some of NFI's Low Intensity resources such as the Pocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad can help moms understand how to better communicate with dad so that he can be more involved in his children's lives.
  3. Assess situations when the mother does not want the father involved and help both the mother and the father resolve differences with the best interest of the child in mind. (This is kind of the "It's not about YOU" mentality...it's about what is best for your children to grow up happy and healthy.)
  4. Encourage mothers to cooperate with fathers in raising children and vice versa, unless abuse of a child or spouse by the other parent has been substantiated.
  5. Develop marketing plans that include targeting mothers in order to encourage fathers to get involved. For example, if you have specific programs for moms, consider offering a fatherhood workshop such as The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad and ask the moms you serve to invite the fathers of their children to attend the workshop.
  6. Understanding DadOffer specific group-based programs that raise mothers’ awareness of potential gatekeeping, how their relationship with their own father affects the relationship with the father of their children, and how to communicate effectively with their child’s dad such as Understanding Dad™.  

In fact, moms involving dads is SO important, that NFI now offers a suite of resources and curricula designed to accomplish all of these objectives which you can review here.

Remember: Fatherhood is part of a larger system that involves the mom, other family members and the community.  Even if a dad has the ability and desire to be a good dad, he will be limited by the degree to which all of these other relationships support him in accomplishing that goal - chief of which, is the mom.

The Telling Side of Parenting Humor

This is a blog post by NFI's Senior Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern. If you would like to guest blog for us please email us.

Just like everyone else I suppose, I love to laugh! I am ever on the lookout for the humor in things especially when they have to do with parenting or dads in particular. 

Recently someone sent me an email. You know the kind, with funny stories and they ask you to pass it on, etc. This one was labeled WHY GOD MADE MOMS.

The answers were given by 2nd grade school children to a number of questions such as:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

You get the picture, and of course they made me laugh, or smile at least and I actually identified with the statements these kids were making.  Here is the link to the entire list.  But as I read through the list, the questions asked about the dads specifically - although funny -are quite telling.  I noticed a bit of a theme like we also see on television today, that mom is smart and the “boss” and dad is a kind of “goof” to quote one of the kids.  There was another statement from one child’s grandma who had something negative to say about dad.

I grew up in the 60’s and in contrast, thought of the old TV shows likeKids Say The Darndest Things KidsSay The Darndest Things(then with Art Linkletterlater with Bill Cosby) it is clear there was a kind of reverence for both parents.  

Now I know I look at things from a fatherhood lens so to speak, because of what I do here at NFI.  For a moment, I thought maybe I was being hypersensitive.  So I read on to the "Mommy Test."

THE MOMMY TEST
I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. "Why?" my daughter asked. "Because it's been laying outside, you don't know where it's been, it's dirty and probably has germs" I replied. At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and asked, "Wow! How do you know all this stuff?"
"Uh," ...I was thinking quickly, “All moms know this stuff. It's on the Mommy Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mommy."
We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently pondering thi
s new information.
"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you have to be the daddy"
"Exactly" I replied back with a big smile on my face and joy in my heart.

When you're finished laughing, send this to a Mom.

I wondered about mom’s comment about having “joy in her heart” to have gotten the message across to her 4 year old daughter.  But was that message actually "moms know everything, and those that don’t pass the test—are those (dumb?) dads"?  And why is it important to send this on to another mom? Because, oh yes, we (moms) all will get it too?  Again, am I being hypersensitive because of the work we do here at NFI?  

In our country, one in three children are growing up in homes without a father.  Why is that bad or even a tragedy?  There are numerous statistics  linking father absence to so many unfunny social issues like teen pregnancy, incarceration, crime, etc. Even more alarming in Research Studies with dads AND moms – shows that more than half of moms and dads believe dads are replaceable!  

As I have learned through experience and the research NFI provides, dads don’t do things the same way we moms do.  Ah hah!  I sadly reflect now on how many times I verbally expressed how dad didn’t do something correctly or “my way” in front of our children. We (moms) want dads interaction with our children --but we want them to interact the same way that we interact.

What the research actually shows is that the wonderful blend of parenting approaches or styles from both parents is beneficial and enriching for children. And involved fathers and involved mothers are beneficial to each other! See our recent Blog Moms Should “Lean In” …to Fatherhood about this very topic.

Which leads me to this: 

While we have developed countless resources for fathers; emails like thePocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad one described above illustrate the very real perception a lot of mothers have about the fathers of their children. In case you haven’t heard, NFI recently launched a new series of  Resources for Moms – and yes there are a lot of resources out there for moms.

But what is unique is these are for moms…About Dads! Our new low intensity resources include the Pocketbook for Moms™: A PocketbookPocketbook for New Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad as well as the Pocketbook for New Moms: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads.These pocketbooks are filled with tips and advice for moms on how to communicate with dads.

I believe that these resources and programs can be a great way for organizations working in our communities to help both parents vastly improve child-rearing skills and expand the enjoyment of their personal relationship as well.  And speaking of personal relationships, I believe humor is a key component to keeping good relationships for sure. It is important to be way more aware of the deeper messages to that humor. 

Now, have you heard the one about

NEW! Resources from NFI to Help Moms Involve Dads

It's an exciting day at National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) as we just launched a new line of products and services designed to help mothers support the involvement of fathers in their children’s lives!Resources for moms, communication, co-parenting, new moms

This new line of products and services for mothers complements NFI’s longstanding, industry-leading work to equip community-based organizations around the country with the tools and training needed to effectively serve fathers for the well-being of their children.

Today, over 24 million children in America live in in homes where their biological father is absent. All too often, a mothers' gatekeeping behavior can prevent or reduce fathers' access to their children - when fathers' involvement in their children's lives would actually benefit their children. In addition, mothers can lack the self-awareness and communications skills they need to improve their relationships with the fathers of their children.

It's important to note that we devised our new programming for moms based on feedback from hundreds of organizations around the country using our signature fatherhood programs and other NFI low and medium intensity resources. These organizations identified a great need to involve mothers in their efforts to connect fathers to their children, but saw no programming available to help them do so. And, they were seeking resources to encourage communication and co-parenting. Accordingly, NFI’s new programs – the first of their kind – will help moms become gateways, rather than gatekeepers, between their children and their children’s dads.

Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms anchors the new line of resources. This complete program kit helps mothers successfully navigate their relationships with the fathers of their children in a group-based program over 8 sessions. It will give moms the knowledge and skills they need to effectively communicate with the fathers of their children and to understand the critical role fathers play in children’s lives.

“Research shows that two of the most powerful predictors of father involvement for a child are the quality of the mother-father relationship and the way the child’s mother perceives the child’s dad,” said Christopher A. Brown, executive vice president of NFI. “NFI’s new programming aims to help moms develop the knowledge and skills they need for effective communication and come away with a positive impression of the role of fathers in children’s lives.”

Understanding Dad™ increases mothers’ self-awareness about the impact of their personal histories on their relationships with men and fathers, how their histories have shaped their communication with the fathers of their children, and provides them with research-based skills to overcome negative communication styles and replace them with positive ones.

Other products in the new line include Pocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad and Pocketbook for New Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads. Pocketbook for Moms™ contains practical tips and strategies to help mothers build trust and positive communication patterns with dads. Pocketbook for New Moms™ helps moms understand the benefits of father involvement during pregnancy and during their children’s infant and toddler years and beyond.

Lastly, our popular FatherTopics Workshop: Mom as Gateway is already being used by oragnizations across the country to address mom's gatekeeping behavior, and is an excellent complement as an add-on to our new Understanding Dad Program.

All of the new resources are now available through FatherSOURCE™ along with customized NFI trainings and technical assistance that organizations can choose to help them effectively implement the new programs. And don't forget, NFI’s team of program support consultants, are here to help you start or enhance your fatherhood programsor create a custom program to meet your needs! 

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