With the participation rates of fathers in parenting programs non-existent in some parts of Australia, UNSW researchers are leading a $2.6 million effort to engage and support fathers to help manage aggressive behaviours in their sons.
Lead project investigator, UNSW professor of psychology Mark Dadds, says low participation by fathers in parenting programs must be turned around to prevent violence and anti-social behaviour among future generations of boys.
“Disorders of violence, aggression and antisocial behaviour occur most commonly in males and often begin early in life, however responsibility for treating these problems often falls to mothers,” Professor Dadds says.
“If conduct problems are caught early they can be treated relatively inexpensively using evidence-based parent-training programs. We also know that outcomes are vastly improved when fathers participate."
Research suggests Australian fathers’ participation in existing parenting programs ranges from 0 – 70%. So what is preventing fathers from participating? UNSW researcher and senior project leader, Dr Lucy Tully believes there is a range of reasons.
“Existing parenting programs were originally developed with mothers in mind so at the moment programs aren’t tailored for Australian fathers,” Dr Tully says.
“Many clinics only open 9 to 5 which makes it hard for working fathers.
“Some fathers may also feel this is ‘mother’s business’ or may be struggling with their own health and psychological problems,” Dr Tully says.
UNSW researchers are now calling on fathers to share their views on what would make them more likely or would stop them from participating in parenting programs.
This information will be used to develop the world’s first online parenting program to help fathers learn advanced parenting strategies to manage their child’s aggression and antisocial behaviour.
Fathers aged over 18 with a child aged 2-16 years are invited to participate in the first ever Australia-wide online survey of fathers and/or in a father focus group.
Clinicians and therapists who deliver parenting programs or treat child conduct problems are also invited to share their experiences of working with fathers by completing this survey.
Like Father Like Son, a National Approach to Violence, Antisocial Behaviour and Mental Health of Men And Boys, is funded by the Movember Foundation. The project includes researchers from the University of Sydney, the Australian Catholic University and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
For more information visit: https://www.likefatherlikeson.com.au or call (02) 9385 1697.