Parenting can be difficult and a new online program offers help specifically for fathers. (Sonya Friesen)

Dads get online tool to help parenting

A new survey suggests that 89 per cent of Canadian fathers feel more engaged with their children during the COVID-19 pandemic, but almost half feel there is a lack of online resources specifically to help them. To meet that need, the men’s health charity Movember has launched an online parenting program to help men “navigate tricky parenting situations” especially with children between the ages of two and eight.

The free program is designed to equip parents, particularly dads, with skills they need to cope with frustrating situations. The ultimate goal is to improve the parent’s mental wellbeing by helping them feel more confident and engaged in the parenting process. 

There are three short modules that would take only one hour in all to complete and are based on an Australian program vetted by psychologists and parenting experts. They are available in both of Canada’s official languages, English and French. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 89 per cent of Canadian fathers say they are more engaged with their children, accoring to a Movember survey. (Sonya Friesen)

‘It certainly isn’t always easy’

“Being a parent can be a very rewarding experience, but it certainly isn’t always easy,” said Jane Endacott, Director of Digital Health – Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at Movember. “Dealing with meltdowns at the mall or a child who repeatedly ignores instructions can be incredibly stressful. It causes friction at home and over time that can impact the whole family’s mental wellbeing.” 

Almost one in three dads had a low to moderate level of confidence in their ability to deal with their children’s behaviour, according to the survey of over 1,600 North American fathers including 800 Canadians. Most (80 per cent) of Canadian dads were not aware of any online parenting resources aimed at fathers. And one in three said they would be very or extremely likely to seek advice from a parenting website dedicated to fathers.

Movember’s program called Family Man shows episodes where fathers are faced with a tough situation such as a battle over the dinner table or a tantrum in public. Several ways to respond are shown along with the pros, cons and likely outcomes of each option. 

“Evidence-based parenting programs are effective in reducing behavioural problems, yet few involve the participation of fathers,” says Professor Dadds who designed the Australian program. “Family Man was designed to be accessible to all families”

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