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Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms

Program Description


Understanding Dad™ is a group-based program that helps moms focus on accomplishing communication and awareness objectives that are vital to improving the relationships between them and the father(s) of their children. The program covers topics to help moms gain a better understanding of their life as a mom, their father and mother’s impact, and their own impact on their children; then shifts to patterns of communication, open and safe communication, and how to listen.


Researchers at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA) evaluated a pilot of the program and found that mothers who participated in it experienced large gains in relationship awareness, knowledge of healthy co-parenting relationships, and relationship self-efficacy. Temple University researchers recently completed a more comprehensive evaluation of the program. A report is forthcoming.

Program Delivery

Delivered in a group setting by a facilitator(s).

Can be modified for delivery in one-on-one case management and

home visiting settings.

Number of Sessions

Understanding Dad™ consists of 8 sessions, each lasting approximately 2 hours, with the goal of accomplishing 4 objectives that are vital to improving the relationships between mothers and fathers:

  • Increase mothers’ knowledge, positive attitudes (e.g. toward fathers’ involvement), and skills (e.g. communication) associated with improving their relationships with the fathers of their children.

  • Increase mothers’ awareness of the impact that their upbringing (e.g. their relationships with their own fathers) has had on their relationships with the fathers of their children and men in general.

  • Increase mothers’ understanding of the importance of fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children.

  • Increase positive interactions between mothers and the fathers of their children.

Topics Covered:

  • My Life as a Mom

  • My Father's Impact

  • My Mother's Impact

  • Me and My Children's Father

  • The Impact on My Children

  • Patterns of Communication

  • Open, Safe Communication

  • How to Listen

Understanding Dad™ with Mom as Gateway™ Booster Session

Use this bundle to create a powerful 12-session program for moms that addresses moms' gatekeeping behavior in a more comprehensive way than either resource alone.

  • Start with the optional opening session in Understanding Dad™ as session one.

  • Follow it with the eight core sessions of Understanding Dad™.

  • End the program with the three sessions of Mom as Gateway™.

When moms go through Understanding Dad™ before Mom as Gateway™, it helps them to be more receptive to the latter resource's laser focus on their gatekeeping behavior. After the Understanding Dad™ program helps moms reflect on how their upbringing affects how they relate to dad, the importance of fathers to child well-being, and learn practical communication skills to help them more effectively interact with dad, they're more open to addressing their gatekeeping behavior head on during the Mom as Gateway™ sessions.

Additional topics covered with Mom as Gateway™:

  • The Role of Mom as a Gatekeeper

  • Power & Control in Relationships Between Men & Women

  • Minimize Excessive Gatekeeping

Understanding Dad with Mom as a Gateway.
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