Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 937–947 | Cite as

Using Father Preference Data to Increase Father Engagement in Evidence-Based Parenting Programs

  • Tenille J. Frank
  • Louise J. Keown
  • Cassandra K. Dittman
  • Matthew R. Sanders
Original Paper


Survey (n = 161) and focus group (n = 15) methods were used to collect data from a community sample of New Zealand fathers about their knowledge and experience with parenting programs, and their preferences for program content, features, and delivery methods. The prevalence of perceived child behavioral and emotional difficulties, parenting risk and protective factors, fathers’ parenting confidence, and the family and personal correlates of father preferences were also examined. Survey results showed that fathers’ knowledge and experience of available parenting programs was low. The topics rated most highly by fathers to include in a program were building a positive parent–child relationship, increasing children’s confidence and social skills, and the importance of fathers to children’s development. Fathers’ most preferred program delivery methods were father only group programs, individually-tailored programs, and a range of low intensity options, including seminar, television series, and web-based. Program features most likely to influence father attendance were demonstrated program effectiveness, location of sessions, practitioner training, and that content addressed personally relevant issues. Fathers’ level of education, stress and depression, and perceptions of child behaviour difficulty were linked to program content and delivery preferences. New insights were gained from focus group participants about messages to include in program advertisements and program content to emphasise in order to engage fathers. Findings highlight a variety of program and delivery options that could be offered to meet a range of father parenting support needs, including concerns about coping with specific child behaviours and emotions, and managing personal and parenting stress.


Fathers Parenting programs Parenting Child behavior Consumer survey 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tenille J. Frank
    • 1
  • Louise J. Keown
    • 1
  • Cassandra K. Dittman
    • 2
  • Matthew R. Sanders
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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