Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 538–548 | Cite as

Effects of a Program to Promote High Quality Parenting by Divorced and Separated Fathers

  • Irwin Sandler
  • Heather Gunn
  • Gina Mazza
  • Jenn-Yun Tein
  • Sharlene Wolchik
  • Cady Berkel
  • Sarah Jones
  • Michele Porter


This paper reports on the effects on parenting and on children’s mental health problems and competencies from a randomized trial of a parenting program for divorced and separated fathers. The program, New Beginnings Program-Dads (NBP-Dads), includes ten group sessions (plus two phone sessions) which promote parenting skills to increase positive interactions with children, improve father-child communication, use of effective discipline strategies, and skills to protect children from exposure to interparental conflict. The program was adapted from the New Beginnings Program, which has been tested in two randomized trials with divorced mothers and shown to strengthen mothers’ parenting and improve long-term outcomes for children (Wolchik et al. 2007). Fathers were randomly assigned to receive either NBP-Dads or a 2-session active comparison program. The sample consisted of 384 fathers (201 NBP-Dads, 183 comparisons) and their children. Assessments using father, youth, and teacher reports were conducted at pretest, posttest, and 10-month follow-up. Results indicated positive effects of NBP-Dads to strengthen parenting as reported by fathers and youth at posttest and 10-month follow-up. Program effects to reduce child internalizing problems and increase social competence were found at 10 months. Many of the program effects were moderated by baseline level of the variable, child age, gender, and father ethnicity. This is the first randomized trial to find significant effects to strengthen father parenting following divorce. In view of recent changes in family courts to allot fathers increasing amounts of parenting time following divorce, the results have significant implications for improving outcomes for children from divorced families.


Father parenting Divorce Intervention 



This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DA R01 DAO26874.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Sandler and Dr. Wolchik are partners in an LLC that trains providers to deliver the NBP-Dads program and declare a conflict of interest.

Ethical Procedures

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards and approved by Arizona State University’s IRB and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent and assent was obtained from all participants in this study.

Supplementary material

11121_2017_841_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin Sandler
    • 1
  • Heather Gunn
    • 1
  • Gina Mazza
    • 1
  • Jenn-Yun Tein
    • 1
  • Sharlene Wolchik
    • 1
  • Cady Berkel
    • 1
  • Sarah Jones
    • 1
  • Michele Porter
    • 1
  1. 1.REACH Institute, Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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