Parenting Course Helps Young Fathers Say 'It's My Child, Too'

September 18, 1997

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Young fathers, barely more than children themselves, are learning how to be good dads thanks to a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service class on fathering called "It's My Child, Too."

"Many of the young men who need the program have no idea of what a father is, because they didn't have a role model," says Extension specialist Pam Robbins.

The fathering curriculum was developed at the request of judges who were seeing a growing number of paternity cases involving teen fathers. "They were telling us that these men simply had no concept of what it is to be a father," she says.

Not all the young men taking the course are absentee dads. "In addition to those sent by the courts, we have those who volunteer for the training," Robbins says. "Some judges have told them that if they take the course, the courts may look more favorably on them with regard to decisions such as visitation and custody of their children."

Six Indiana counties now offer the program: Allen, Clark, Clinton, Fayette, Miami and Porter. New counties will be added in May. The course is currently taught by volunteers in partnership with local extension educators.

During one session in a small-town community center, seven fathers sat around card tables and poured out heart-felt thoughts, frustrations, and hopes as they talked about being fathers.

"I get to see my son for three hours, two days a week. That's it." one young father says with a nervous, hand-wringing gesture and his head hanging low. "If his mom is late, the time comes out of my three hours." Another father adds, "My daughter is adorable, I just can't see her enough."

Robbins says young men like these want to know more about parenting including potty training, disciplining and handling confrontations with the mothers.

Robbins is state coordinator for Indiana Community Systemwide Response, an initiative that partners local Extension educators with their juvenile court judge or prosecutor. The idea is to steer troubled youngsters into Extension programs that might help them and to develop a communitywide plan for dealing with problems associated with teen-agers.

The fathering course was written by Purdue's Center for Families in the Department of Child Development and Family Studies with support from Purdue's Departments of Consumer and Family Sciences and 4-H/Youth. Pilot testing of the curriculum concluded last spring.

"It's My Child, Too" focuses on six major areas: If fathers take more responsibility, something that "It's My Child, Too" is designed to encourage, Robbins believes that it will reduce taxpayer costs associated with fatherless children and will produce children who are more responsive to growth and education.

However, this program is just the starting point in bolstering commitment to fatherhood. "Research clearly indicates that long-term, intensive programs are needed for significant change in parenting beliefs and behaviors in high-risk populations." says Douglas Powell, professor of child development and family studies who put together the curriculum.

Maurice S. Kramer, head of Purdue's Department of 4-H/Youth, agrees: "This is not an instant cure, which we often want in this society. But these problems did not happen overnight, and they won't go away overnight. Once a young father goes through the program, though, he is more likely to begin to take responsibility and see how he can contribute. From there, it will take the support of the community."

One father, Jamie Knierim of Valparaiso , is trying to be a part of his 4-year-old daughter Rachel's life. For his situation, the class session on legal representation was most helpful. But he says the class has more to offer other fathers.

"I encourage fathers to take it," says Knierim. "They will learn how babies develop and how fast children grow up. It helps you understand how to handle different situations as they arise."

For more information about "It's My Child, Too" call 1-888 -EXT-INFO (398-4636).

Sources: Pam Robbins, (812) 967-3738
Douglas Powell, (765) 494-9511; e-mail,
Maurice Kramer, (765) 494-8422
Writer: Steven Cain, (765) 494-8410; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Purdue University

Related Child Development Articles from Brightsurf:

Low level alcohol use during pregnancy can impact child's brain development
A new study finds any alcohol use during pregnancy, even low levels, is associated with subtle, yet significant behavioural and psychological effects in children including anxiety, depression and poor attention.

What jigsaw puzzles tell us about child development
New research shows that children only learn to do jigsaw puzzles once they have reached a certain stage of development.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: Experts call for more awareness of the potential impact of physical distancing on adolescent peer relationships and social development
Authors of an opinion piece, based on a review of evidence and published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal, are urging policymakers to consider the effects of physical distancing measures introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 on young people's social development and wellbeing.

Alcohol consumption by fathers before conception could negatively impact child development
Trouble for alcoholic fathers, hope for alcoholic mothers. Scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have explored the relationship between parental alcohol consumption -- before conception in the case of fathers and during pregnancy in the case of mothers -- and offspring development.

Leaving your baby to 'cry it out' has no adverse effects on child development
Leaving an infant to 'cry it out' from birth up to 18 months does not adversely affect their behaviour development or attachment, researchers from the University of Warwick have found, they also discovered that those left to cry cried less and for a shorter duration at 18 months of age.

Mother nature and child development
A world first review of the importance of nature play could transform children's play spaces, supporting investment in city and urban parks, while also delivering important opportunities for children's physical, social and emotional development.

BU finds some child development milestones may be set too early
A new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study published in the journal Pediatrics provides more specific data on what ages young children reach different developmental milestones.

At what age is it considered child neglect to leave a child home alone?
A majority of social workers surveyed believe children should be at least 12 before being left home alone four hours or longer, and they are more likely to consider a home-alone scenario as neglect if a child is injured while left unsupervised, according to research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2019 National Conference & Exhibition.

Predictability of parent interaction positively influences child's development
A joint project of the University of Turku's FinnBrain study and the University of California-Irvine (US) investigated the impact of the predictability of parent interaction on a child's development.

India's integrated child development program increases educational attainment
In a new study funded by Grand Challenges Canada through the Saving Brains project, researchers at CDDEP and the University of Pennsylvania evaluated the long-term impact of ICDS on schooling attainment of adolescents and adults in India.

Read More: Child Development News and Child Development Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to