Working with Men as Parents: Fathers’ Parenting Choices Matter

If we want to work with families, we cannot just work with women and children. We need to be able to work with men —  from all types of families, especially poor and historically oppressed communities. We need to approach fathers with high expectations, and the willingness to learn new approaches and practices. Understanding male parental development and how men’s choices and behaviors impact child and family functioning is critical. Throughout the course, we highlight specific connections to the Safe & Together™ Model Principles, Critical Components, Multiple Pathways to Harm and Practice Tools.


As a result of this training, participants will be better able to:

  • Describe key aspects of male parental development and how men’s choices and behaviors impact child and family functioning.
  • Use a father-inclusive, domestic violence-informed framework to engage men and to develop meaningful child and family focused interventions.
  • Describe how father-inclusive work can benefit women and children.
  • Describe how a father-inclusive approach can support interventions with domestic violence perpetrators as parents
  • Describe specific approaches related to engaging men as parents, prevention and early intervention and domestic violence-informed practice

Highlights of this course

  • Fills a major and important gap in professional education and training related to working with families
  • Acknowledges the diversity of male caregivers and contexts for men’s parenting
  • Continues the Safe & Together Institute collaboration with Kempe Innovative Design (a project of the Kempe Center, an international leader in child abuse prevention)
  • Brings the content alive using multimedia case scenarios
  • Offers specific questions and tips for engaging men as fathers
  • Includes prevention and early intervention strategies that can help professionals, agencies and communities look at the bigger picture of father-inclusive policy and practice
  • Bridges father-inclusive and domestic violence-informed work through a focus on the quality of men’s parenting and by using a definition of father-inclusive practice that asks the question: “Does our work with him benefit other family members?”
  • Introduces the concept of “male parental development” as a framework to assist in our work with all men including domestic violence perpetrators

Why work with men as parents?

Most of child welfare and other human service professionals have received little to no training or education related to working with men. This means most of us haven’t receive the training we need to work with the entire family. This is a significant oversight. So why work with men as parents?

It means we are working with the entire family as it’s understood by the family and their community

Children want us to work with their fathers: Fathers loom large in the emotional and physical life of children (whether he lives in the home or not). Helping men be better fathers helps children.

Men’s partners want us to do this: Partners of fathers often want their partner to be a more engaged, positive parent.

Communities value the entire family, even what happens to the “family” post separation: Many communities and cultures are focused on the health and well being of the extended family, kin network and overall community. Work with men as parents is essential to these families own definitions of community health and well-being. Men as parents cannot be ignored or left behind when we are focused on the health and well being of the whole community.

Men want help in their parenting: There are men who want help with parenting, but often do not seek out help because they neither can find services designed for fathers or professionals who know how to engage them.

It provides a very important foundation for working effectively with domestic violence cases.

Men’s trauma histories often go unidentified and untreated. Father-inclusive work can help address this gap.

Father-inclusive work must be domestic violence-informed

Partners and children should benefit from father-inclusive, domestic violence-informed work. By definition, good work with fathers,  must consider the relationship of fathers to their partners, children and families. Whether in heterosexual or same sex relationship, one of the questions we must be able to answer is “Does our work with him benefit other family members?” This is especially important when the father is also a domestic violence perpetrator. If we don’t stay aware of the rest of his family, we may engage and strengthen him to the detriment of others, e.g. an abusive father who we help to gain employment who then uses his financial stability to take the children away from his partner, who he has destabilized through his abuse.