National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has conducted a successful pilot program of its recently released curriculum, Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms.
An evaluation of the program conducted this summer at two pilot sites – Family P.A.C.T. Center in Coshocton County, OH and Allegheny Intermediate Unit in Allegheny County, PA – revealed that the program effectively met its goals with a group of 34 mothers diverse in race, age, marital status, and education. Specifically, Understanding Dad™ increased mothers’ pro-relationship knowledge, self-efficacy, and attitudes about their relationships with the fathers of their children.
NFI developed Understanding Dad™ based on demand from its customers who wanted an in-depth program that would address one of the most vital factors that affects fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children: maternal gate-keeping and its effect on the quality of the relationships between mothers and fathers.
The evaluation involved a pre- and post-test methodology. Facilitators at each of the two pilot locations administered a 51-item evaluation tool that is part of the curriculum (called the Understanding Dad™ Survey) to the 34 mothers before they started the program and again after they completed it. In addition to collecting basic demographic information on program participants, the survey used 44 measures to gauge mothers’ pro-relationship knowledge, self-efficacy (their confidence in their ability to use the skills taught in the program), and attitudes. By comparing mothers in each of these areas before and after their participation in the program, NFI was able to determine whether and how much change the mothers experienced.
The results from the analyses of the pre- and post-survey responses show that the program increased the overall knowledge of mothers by 88 percent. The two multiple choice questions where mothers displayed the greatest improvement in knowledge were, “Four of the best skills I can use to better under¬stand the points of view of the father of my children are…” and “One of the best skills I can use to improve the relationship with the father of my children is…”
The results also showed that the program increased the overall self-efficacy of mothers by 16 percent. Mothers were provided with a series of statements that measured their confidence related to using the skills taught in the program. The two statements for which the mothers displayed the greatest improvement in self-efficacy were, “Let go of the issues of control I have in the relation¬ship with the father of my children,” and “See things from the point of view of the father of my children.”
Finally, the results from the analyses of the pre- and post-survey responses showed that the program increased the overall pro-relationship attitudes of mothers by 9 percent. The two statements for which the mother displayed the greatest improvement in attitudes were, “A good mother asks the father what he wants when she communicates with him,” and “A good mother admits that she has a role in causing poor communication with the father of her children.”
Overall, the Understanding Dad™ program had a profound impact on this group of mothers as indicated by positive/desirable movement on 40 of the 44 measures across the three areas (knowledge, self-efficacy, and attitudes). Download the entire detailed evaluation report at NFI’s program evaluation webpage.
The results of this evaluation reveal that organizations and practitioners can be confident that using Understanding Dad™ will help mothers increase their pro-relationship knowledge, self-efficacy, and attitudes so that they can improve their relationships with the fathers of their children for the sake of their children.
Father absence in the United States has taken on crisis proportions. One in three children nationally, and two in three in the African American community, live in homes absent their biological fathers. These children face increased risks across every measure of child well being, including poverty, crime, emotional and behavioral problems, education, and ten pregnancy.
In the past 15 years, more and more community-based organizations have responded to this crisis by starting fatherhood programs to provide education and inspiration to the fathers in their communities, with the goal of increasing their positive involvement in their children’s lives. Since 1994, NFI has led this effort to provide the training and skill-building materials such programs need to succeed.
NFI’s Understanding Dad™ in particular focuses on the goal of accomplishing communication and awareness objectives that are vital to improving the relationships between mothers and fathers. Recent research has shown that a mother’s perception of the father of their children plays a significant role in the level of involvement that father has in his children’s lives. Therefore, Understanding Dad™ addresses topics like, “My Life as a Mom,” “My Father's Impact,” and “Open, Safe Communication.”