One of the best ways to help dads become more involved in the lives of their children is to ensure that the co-parenting relationship between dad and mom is a good one.
That's because one of the primary barriers to many dads' involvement is restrictive gatekeeping behavior on the part of their children's mom. If you're not familiar with the term "restrictive maternal gatekeeping," it refers to actions that a mom takes to unnecessarily restrict a dad's access to their children. This behavior most often occurs when dad doesn't live with mom and his children, but it also occurs in homes where mom and dad are married or cohabit.
So where do you start to ensure dad and mom have a good co-parenting relationship? Learn what the research says about co-parenting, including how dads and moms view co-parenting.
A new study from the federally-funded Parents and Children Together (PACT) evaluation sheds light on how dads view co-parenting. (This evaluation focuses on measuring the implementation and outcomes of four fatherhood programs funded by the federal government in 2011.) Researchers conducted two rounds of in-depth interviews with 87 resident and nonresident dads enrolled in these programs. Based on these interviews, the researchers classified each dad-mom relationship as:
- Cooperative (high levels of cooperation, low levels of conflict),
- Conflicted (low levels of cooperation, high levels of conflict), or
- Disengaged (low levels of cooperation, low levels of conflict).
They found a fairly even distribution of these relationships in the sample. What makes this research most helpful for you, however, is the richness of the qualitative data on how dads in each type of relationship differ in their views on co-parenting and engage in parenting with mom. Those findings are too extensive to recount here, so please download the report to increase your knowledge in this vital area. But in addition to this rich data, the researchers made two recommendations that will help your organization to more effectively serve dads:
- Offer services to help dads navigate and potentially improve relationships with moms.
- Help nonresident dads obtain the legal agreements that can structure and support greater involvement with their children.
National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI) provides programs and resources for dads and moms that can help you implement the first of these recommendations.
- 24/7 Dad®: This evidence-based program includes content specific to co-parenting and skill-building critical to improving co-parenting (e.g. communication with mom).
- Mom as Gateway™ workshop and the Understanding Dad™ program: These resources for moms help them reduce unnecessary gatekeeping and increase their skills for better co-parenting (e.g. communication with dad).
- Guides, brochures, and tip cards on co-parenting. For your convenience, we offer these resources in our Co-Parenting Bundle. You can also order the items in it separately.
Don't delay in helping dads navigate and improve their co-parenting relationship. Partner with us!
What does your organization do to proactively improve co-parenting relationships among the clients you serve?
What impact would improving co-parenting relationships have on the outcomes your organization seeks?
Co-parenting takes BOTH parents' commitment and involvement. Here are 10 ways Mom can be a great co-parent!