Video: Feinberg discusses Family Foundations, successful parenting teamwork with HHD alumni
August 11, 2020
PRC Research Professor Mark Feinberg shared his expertise in family-focused prevention research with College of Health and Human Development alumni in the July 2 edition of the College’s "HHD on Location: Home Edition" webinars, titled “How Parents Can Team Up to Bring Down Stress, Emotional Problems, and Family Conflict.”
Feinberg addressed the urgency for research and programs supporting new parents, citing a 2005 study in which researchers found that 87% of parents in the U.S. reported that they used physical aggression, and 13% extreme violence, against their young children in the past year.
He provided an overview of the Family Foundations (FF) program, which he developed 15 years ago and has continued to adapt for families in different contexts. This 8-class program (consisting of 4 prenatal and 4 postnatal sessions) aims to enhance support and coordination in the co-parenting relationship—viewed as the foundation of healthy family functioning. FF has demonstrated short- and long-term positive benefits for parents and children on a range of outcomes, including:
- adverse birth outcomes
- parent stress, depression, and anxiety
- parenting and co-parenting quality
- family violence
- children’s long-term self-regulation, mental health, social competence, disruptive behavior, and school adjustment.
Feinberg said that building positive coparenting relationships also promotes future family resilience: One month into the coronavirus pandemic, parents who were randomly assigned to FF 10 years ago, compared to control parents, reported decreased harsh parenting, sibling conflict, and children’s behavioral problems, according to Feinberg.
He also discussed four domains of parenting teamwork:
- joint family management
- division of labor
- childrearing agreement, and
- support vs. undermining.
“These four aspects build the foundation of parents’ sense of worth, security, and competence,” said Feinberg. Through exercises, homework assignments, and videos, the FF program fosters communication between parents and helps them navigate the new challenges of parenthood.
At all times, but especially during stressful periods such as the pandemic, Feinberg advises parents to prioritize:
- physical and emotional self-care
- mutual coparenting support, problem solving, and coordination.
Taking care of oneself and one’s coparenting relationship, he says, naturally leads to reduced family conflict and increased parental patience and warmth towards children—with long-term benefits for children’s emotional, social, and academic well-being. Expecting and new parents can access the online version of the Family Foundations program for use at home.
For additional information about Family Foundations, please visit http://famfound.net.