Program Goals/Target Population
Family Foundations is a psycho-educational, skills-based program for first-time expectant parents. The universal prevention program is delivered through childbirth education departments at local hospitals. It is designed to reduce later child problems such as aggressive and antisocial behavior by enhancing the coparenting relationship among cohabiting and married couples expecting their first child.
Family Foundations focuses on improving the quality of coparenting (defined as how parents coordinate their parenting, support or undermine each other, and manage conflict regarding child rearing). The program focuses on coparental support and undermining because these dynamics are linked to parenting and child outcomes, including externalizing and internalizing behaviors (Feinberg et al. 2005). Improvements in coparenting and parenting relationships should improve children’s physiological and emotional self-regulation (Feinberg, Kan, and Goslin 2009).
Family Foundations is delivered in a group format across eight sessions. The first four sessions are prenatal classes provided around the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. The other four sessions are postnatal classes provided when the child is approximately 6 months old. The prenatal classes introduce couples to certain themes and relationship skills. The postnatal classes revisit those themes once the couple has experienced life as parents and coparents.
Most of the program material focuses on enhancing the coparenting relationship, aligning expectant parents’ expectations of each other and of parenthood, and introducing positive childrearing strategies. The material on post-birth expectations familiarizes parents with particular issues they may experience after the birth of their child and the way that these issues may affect coparenting. Parenting strategies discussed in the sessions include an understanding of temperament, fostering children’s self-regulation, and promoting attachment security.
The program includes a combination of didactic presentations, couple communication exercises, written worksheets, videotaped vignettes of other families, and group discussions.
The classes are led by a male-female co-leader team, so that a role model is offered for each partner. The female leader is usually a childbirth educator.
0 to 3
Feinberg, Kan, and Goslin (2009) found that the Family Foundations intervention group children demonstrated significantly higher levels of self-soothing compared with control group children at the 12-month follow-up. However, there was no significant difference between the groups on sustained attention.
Mother’s Parenting Behavior
Intervention group mothers demonstrated significantly higher levels of positive parenting compared with control group mothers. However, there was no significant difference between the groups on negative parenting.
Father’s Parenting Behavior
Intervention group fathers demonstrated significantly higher levels of positive parenting compared with control group fathers. Contrary to the results of the mothers, intervention group fathers demonstrated significantly lower levels of negative parenting compared with control group fathers.
At the 36-month follow-up, Feinberg and colleagues (2010) found significant intervention effects for measures on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), although child gender was a factor in these results. There were significant differences between the intervention group boys and the control group boys on the Total Problems, Externalizing Problems, Internalizing Problems, Aggression, and Attention/Hyperactivity scales. However, there were no significant differences on any of the scales between intervention group girls and control group girls.
There were significant intervention effects found for all three outcomes measured by the Parenting Scale. Intervention group parents indicated significantly lower levels of Overrreactivity and Laxness, and were less likely to inflict physical punishment.
Coparenting and Couple Relationship
There was also a significant intervention effect found for the overall measure on the Coparenting Scale. Intervention group parents had a higher measure of positive coparenting compared with control group parents. However, for measures of relationship satisfaction, child gender was a factor in this result. Parents of boys in the intervention group showed significantly higher relationship quality compared with parents of boys in the control group. But there was no significant difference for parents of girls in the intervention and control groups.
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