You may have heard of Family Man. If you haven’t, well, you’ve definitely heard about the brains behind it, Movember. Yep, the charity responsible for all the mo’s sported throughout the month of November — for good reason — is back to help men in another arena. Family Man is the world’s first online parenting program, aimed just at dads. Specifically, equipping them with practical skills to cope with challenging child behaviour.
The reasoning behind it? Other than Movember being a leader when it comes to men’s health, they’ve also found that 42% of dads say they feel anxious about being a good father. But out of the people who have taken a parenting course, only 20% are men.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons behind this. Jane Endacott, director of digital health, mental health and suicide prevention at the charity, said some of the barriers include “financial costs, work commitments [and] lack of time.” Another main reason is that dads perceive parenting programs as having been developed for mothers — therefore, not appropriate for them. For some, the barrier is “a reluctance to seek help”.
With 70-80% of the world’s men becoming fathers at some point in their life, a program like this is a necessity. Professor Mark Dadds — possibly the most apt name, ever — put together ParentWorks, the original program that Family Man was inspired by. His reasoning why? “Not only does Family Man support our current generation of dads to take action early to improve their parenting and stress levels, [but] it’s also helping to set up the next generation to be mentally healthy and well too.”
Family Man has a global outlook — as Endacott said, “We wanted to develop a program that was relevant, appropriate and that catered to a wide range of dads internationally.” However, Endacott sees it as being “especially useful for dads in rural and remote areas, where services and support can be hard to access”. Expanding on this, Professor Dadds said: “It can be fully delivered online, without the support of trained practitioners, a key barrier for many parents.”
For those still wary, the “to the point, actionable and interactive” program features dads “front and centre” — in examples, tone and language. “We focus on what dads tell us they want,” explained Endacott. It’s also pretty quick to complete, featuring three 15-minute animated modules.
If you’re reading this and wondering about the children side of it all — why children behave challenging in the first place — it’s often as they’re “distressed, many have not learned to regulate their emotions, and they may require additional support,” according to Professor Dadds.
With boys, it’s likely that behavioural problems are “externalised” — especially as they’re restricted to expressing difficult and vulnerable emotions. Issues around perceived ‘masculinity’ come into play from a young age. Girls are as likely to be distressed, but are more common to internalise their problems — “which is more likely to result in anxiety and/or depression.”
And dads who may not know how best to respond to misbehaving children — well, this can be a huge source of stress. And this stress can have implications at work and in other relationships. “Family Man gives dads the skills to parent more effectively and confidently — improving communication, making for happier and less stressed families.” Oh, it also should work effectively regardless of your child’s gender.
If you’re concerned about parenting in COVID? Yep, they’ve got you covered there too. It’s got everything from managing boredom to family conflicts and round-the-clock responsibilities that all parents are juggling.
“Through Family Man, we want to support men to be better fathers, and to be more confident and engaged, and use effective discipline strategies as they navigate the challenges of fatherhood,” said Professor Dadds.
And if you’ve zipped through the modules and are looking for more? “Sibling conflict and tantrums” are two additional topic areas they’re currently exploring, according to Endacott.