Fathers and parenting programmes: barriers and best practice.

Bayley, J.; Wallace, L. M. and Choudhry, K. (2009). Fathers and parenting programmes: barriers and best practice. Community Practitioner, 82(4) pp. 28–31.


Fathers are particularly difficult to recruit to voluntary parenting programmes, despite the advantages of such programmes for confidence and skills in parenting and associated improvements in child behaviour. The apparent reluctance of fathers to engage in parenting services is recognised as a problem by health and social care practitioners, and the Department of Health identifies the engagement of fathers as a key service target. This review gathers information on barriers to fathers' engagement with parenting support services and identifies best practice for recruitment. It draws on published academic literature, government and community organisation reports and empirical data collection through interviews with parenting experts (n=9) and focus groups and questionnaires with fathers (n=29). The barriers identified were lack of awareness, work commitments, female-orientated services, lack of organisational support and concerns over programme content. Aspects of best practice included actively promoting services to fathers rather than parents, offering alternative forms of provision, prioritising fathers within organisations and taking different cultural and ethnic perspectives into account. Achieving greater engagement of fathers in parenting support programmes requires a greater understanding of the perspectives of fathers.

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