The Fatherhood Project

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The Fatherhood Project is a program that strives to improve the overall well-being and health of children and their families by enabling fathers to become more active, knowledgeable, and emotionally involved with their children. I found this very interesting because I feel like there is not enough research done about father’s positions in families and their relationships with their children. I decided to look more into their program geared towards divorced fathers and how a fathers living situation and parenting style after the divorce affects the overall well-being of their child emotionally and behaviorally. For me, this is close to home because I myself come from a divorced family. I was interested to see what the research had found about the impact of a parent’s divorce and how it affects the child so I could compare it to my own experiences. Additionally, I was able to understand and apply what I have learned in class dealing with emotional development, parenting styles and attachment to the articles that I found and the correlation of the findings.

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As I said before, the Fatherhood Project is an abundance of different resources provided to fathers coming from all different backgrounds to help improve their lives and their family. It is a non-profit organization founded by John Badalament, in the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Through different programs fathers have the opportunities to learn more about dealing with children’s pediatrics, obstetrics, dads who are divorced, teen dads, or fathers who are in recovery. This program states that “A lack of involvement of fathers is associated with negative emotional, social, academic and behavioral outcomes for children.” (The Fatherhood Project, 2018) which leads to negative outcomes for not only the children, but also for society as it increases the rates of poverty, crime, substance abuse and marital issues. “The feeling of closeness to a father is critically linked to a child’s future success in school, employment, and relationships.” (The Fatherhood Project, 2018) which ultimately establishes the goal of this program. To help empower fathers to become more informed, engaged emotionally, and active within the family so that they can enhance the parent-child relationship and their children can grow up to become successful individuals. The Fatherhood Project has been able to do just that by partnering with researchers to design and create direct and appropriate programs that focus on skill-building and creating more meaningful connections within the family structure. Professionals that are trained in mental health, social services, education, and health care are able to provide the best services and support to these fathers. Within the Fatherhood Project, these fathers have access to different kinds of materials and resources such as educational videos, articles, books, news stories, and informational website links allowing them to have access to appropriate and trustworthy research. I found several articles that are able to establish the legitimacy of the program and its effectiveness through discussing the father-child relationship within the household and how it can impact a child behaviorally, emotionally, and the type of attachment style they form throughout the relationship.

The first article was “Research from the Transition to the Fatherhood Project and Beyond”. This longitudinal study written by Nan Marie Astone and H. Elizabeth Peters discusses how the transition into this program may affect men. Up until the 1990’s most of the research on a families’ behavior strictly pertained to just the mother and her children, just recently is when we have seen communities strive to make the effort to increase their understanding and knowledge about the roles that fathers play in the families’ behaviors. Studies have found that parents who are not married at the time of the birth of their child, (including the people who are cohabitating) display an ample amount of instability within their relationship. “Only 36 % of men who were unmarried to their child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth are still living with their child 5 years later (McLanahan, 2011)” (Astone & Peters, 2014). We can see that even though the fathers are still physically around, this does not always mean that there will be meaningful connections with that child. Although this is not always true, we can see that fathers who do not live in the same household as their child, also known as non-resident fathers, tend to have little to no contact with their child and are not too involved with their lives. For this reason, the attachment style between child and father can be anxious-ambivalent/resistant which by definition is “Feeling uncomfortable with closeness in relationships and desire to maintain emotional distance.” (SPSP, 2015). Having a negative attachment style to one of your caregivers can cause emotional behavioral problems and affect that parents type of parenting style.

Each child has a script and an internal working model that helps them form symbolic representations of the type of attachment in relationships that they have experienced before and if a child is secluded to having an anxious-ambivalent/resistant relationship with their father, then that can take a toll on how they form relationships and emotional bonds with others. For as long as I can remember, it has been proven that mothers are the ones who typically spend more time with their child and the fathers just invest the money. I have even had my own personal experience with this. “Participants in responsible fatherhood programs report that the emphasis on the breadwinner role results in feeling that they are not entitled to spend time with their children if they cannot fulfill it. (Edin & Nelson, 2013).” (Astone & Peters, 2014). This is why programs like the Fatherhood Project are important, they help fathers realize that they do matter. That they are detrimental in their child’s overall success. Creating those important connections, building up positive relationships, and providing the appropriate parenting styles while engaging with your child is necessary to help create a lifelong impact for not only them, but the whole family. Furthermore, the second article that I discovered provides additional support as to why fathers who are more involved in their child’s life matter and how their parenting styles affect their relationships.

“Do Divorced Fathers Matter? The Impact of Parenting Styles on Divorced Fathers on the Well-Being of the Child” is a research article written by Kim Bastaits, Koen Ponnet, and Dimitri Mortelmans. By their definition, “Parenting is defined as the provision of support and control. Support refers to the warmth, affection, and reinforcement that parents provide to their children. Control refers to the authority that parents exercise over their children and the extent to which they set limits on the behavior of their children.” (Bastaits, 2014). This refers to the types of parenting styles that I will be referring known as authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and dismissive. The main purposes of this research article is to see how fathers who have different living arrangements affect the well-being of their child, to investigate the different types of parenting styles used by fathers who are divorced, and how that parenting style affects the parent-child relationship. When a couple gets a divorce, the three type of living arrangements that can occur which are co-parenting, residential, or non-residential. Each type of living arrangement can have an effect on the child and the family, so to see how the researchers conducted a study by selecting partners at random from the National Register. They had to meet certain criteria in order to be chosen which was that they had to have been married between 1971 and 2008, and that they have only been divorced once.

The overall group sample came to be 8,506 partners, and out of those 6,004 participants of this sample were currently divorced. The researchers conducted face to face interviews with both the children and the parents from each of the families by using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Three hypothesis were established before conducting this research. The researchers were expecting to see that co-parenting fathers to be more un-involved and less likely to have an an authoritative parenting style, to discover if the parenting styles produced by fathers who are divorced will have different effects on the well-being of their child, and lastly they had the expectations that the parenting styles of fathers who had been divorced and spend ample amount of time with their children will be more important in that child self-esteem and satisfaction as compared to the parenting styles of other divorced fathers who tend to spend less amounts of time with their children. After extensive research their findings came to show that fathers who do not live with their child tend to have a less effective parenting style and that they tend to try to make up for this lack of interaction with their child by having a more permissive parenting style by not providing any control but do provide support. They also had found that there was no significant difference in fathers who are residential to those fathers who have a co-parenting arrangement. This proves that fathers who have daily interaction with their child and engage with them will lead to more positive outcomes such as better parenting styles, emotional development and, attachment styles.

Overall The Fatherhood Program can prove its effectiveness by encouraging all types of fathers from all sorts of backgrounds to be more involved in the child’s life and they their role as a parent does matter. Times are changing and so is the role of parents in the household. Fathers are not just the “breadwinners’ of the families whose only job is to bring in the money. They need to provide that emotional support and positive parenting style to ensure that their children can grow up to be positive and meaningful members in the society. I was intrigued reading about these articles and how important it is for a father to be involved in a child’s life for them to become successful. I think that all parents, especially fathers, should take the time to look into The Fatherhood Project and its amazing programs and resources that they offer.

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The Fatherhood Project. (2019, Feb 15). Retrieved October 5, 2022 , from
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