If you feel that the hubby needs a little bit more push when it comes to co-parenting, maybe you need to apply some "reverse psychology," as this recent study seems to suggest.
Published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, the study wanted to know how they could get 126 low-income fathers to attend a parenting class. The trick, researchers from the New York University (NYU), found out, was not to call it a parenting class -- and it worked!
“When someone tells you they're in a parenting course, the first thing that comes to your mind is, ‘Well, what's wrong with their parenting?’” lead author Anil Chackotold NPR. “It assumes there is some deficit present.”
Instead, the researchers framed the class as an "academic readiness training" program for preschoolers -- the dads were participating in a class or workshop that helped his child become ready for school. It was not about working or improving his parenting skills.
The fathers in the study were either asked to attend the training over the course of eight weeks or be put on a waiting list (which acted as the control group for the study). In the training sessions, dads watched videos of other fathers making glaring mistakes when reading books to their kids. In one video, for example, they would count the number of cows on a page wrong and ignored their children when they tried to correct it. The dads then discussed how these mistakes would affect their children.
In the end, the parenting classes had a 79 percent attendance, an impressive rate for dads, says the study. And, moms, you'll love this part. Compared with those on the wait list, the participating dads improved their parenting skills by 30 percent, and kids scored 30 percent higher on tests measuring language development and school-readiness.
The dads, who were also asked by the study to read to their kids during the eight weeks of sessions, practiced what they learned from the training at home. And they got better at establishing routines, rewarding good behavior, and ignoring their child's attention-seeking behavior.
“Unlike other parenting programs, fathers in this program were not recruited to work on parenting or reduce child behavior problems, but to learn -- with other fathers -- skills to support their children's school readiness, which may remove stigma and support openness among fathers in supporting their children,” said Chacko.
Researchers hope that the results of their study will encourage more dads to attend more parenting classes and become a more engaged co-parent.
Moms, here's your excuse to drag the hubby to those parenting workshops. Or if that isn't working, tell him how reading to the kids can already improve their language development and school-readiness. Worth a try!