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Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series: Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Posted by Christopher A. Brown

During the past two weeks, I have blogged about a collaboration between National Fatherhood Initiative® and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to create a brief that raises awareness among states and others that use the Strengthening Families™ approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Strengthening Families and The 5 Protective Factors Series Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development.jpg

The approach is based on engaging families, programs, and communities in building five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

This post is the third in a five-part series that highlights each of the factors and how NFI’s resources can help those who use the framework to build the factors in their community through more effective engagement of fathers. (Click here for the post on parental resilience and here for the post on social connections.) 

Each post includes more detail on each factor than in the brief.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

About this factor CSSP says, “Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior at every age help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development.”

The importance of helping fathers to learn appropriate parenting skills and child development information cannot be overstated. Interventions that focus on fathers are critical because fathers are not “raised to raise children.” Families and American culture in general (and many sub-cultures including those that demark immigrant enclaves in many major U.S. cities) do not adequately prepare boys and young men in the care of children. Fathers should be involved in the care of their children from the moment their children are born.

CSSP goes on to say that parenting and child development information is “most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.”

NFI’s programs focus on building the parenting skills of fathers. One of the most important of these skills is proper discipline of children. Fathers learn, for example, the difference between punishment and discipline, to know when to discipline and when to punish, and to rely primarily on discipline.

Fathers also receive extensive information on child development at all stages of a child’s life (i.e. at the precise time they need it based on their children’s ages). One of the signature resources in NFI’s programs is the Ages and Stages of Child Development Charts that informs fathers about the physical, social, and emotional milestones children should reach by specific ages. A unique feature of these charts is a list of actions fathers can take to help their children reach milestones. NFI has turned these charts into Help Me Grow Guides for mass distribution by organizations and created an online, interactive version of the charts called Countdown to Growing Up™: A Growth and Development Tracker that fathers can use to track their children’s growth and identify questions they might have for their children’s pediatrician/family doctor.

Look next week for the fourth post in this series.

Does your work with dads focus enough on developing parenting knowledge in general?

Does your work with dads focus enough on helping them to learn the ages and stages of child development?

Click here to view and download the brief from NFI's Free Resources section.

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