All Parents Matter… How to Bring all Parenting Partners into Your Home Visits

Despite the abundance of research that supports the important benefits to families when children grow up with a male role model, we continue to see an increasing number of households where there is no father or male role model present.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America (1 out of 3) live in biological father-absent homes.  Between 1991 and 2009, children living with only their mother increased from 21% to 24%. Another important fact is that the percentage of children living with their mother without a father present varied widely among race and origin groups in 2009 (US Census Bureau, 2011).  Research also tells us that the absence of a positive male role model has an impact on almost all the social issues facing America today, including poverty, emotional and behavioral problems, maternal and child health, crime, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, education, childhood obesity (Fatherhood Institute, 2014).

Growing Great Kids recognizes the importance and value of all parenting partners to a child’s well-being and healthy development. Thus, the GGK curriculum is inclusive of the whole family in presentation, language, graphics and illustrations, and is written to include all parenting partners.

Today, we are going to talk about how you, as a home visitor, can engage all family members in your home visits, increasing their involvement in child development activities, instilling motivation for growing their parenting and life skills, and most importantly supporting them to grow secure attachment relationships with their child

First let’s talk about the benefits of male involvement. Involvement of a male role model has a significant long-term impact on children’s healthy development in all domains. Studies have identified increases in children’s capacity for empathy, self-esteem, self-confidence, life satisfaction, ability to establish relationships, academic performance, and ability to regulate feelings, emotions, and behaviors in general (Davies, 2015).  Undoubtedly, male role models can bring unique contributions to the child’s well-being and long-term development. Research also shows that when a father is involved during pregnancy, there are more chances that he will be involved in parenting later on, and he is much more likely to continue to support his child even if he is not in a relationship with the mother (Moore & Kotelchuck, 2004).

We would be remiss to discuss this research without also noting that there is a considerable amount of research indicating that there is not one particular family make-up that results in either poor or positive outcomes (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013).  The 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics report goes on to say that “A stable, well-functioning family that consists of 2 parents and children is potentially the most secure, supportive, and nurturing environment in which children may be raised” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013). We all know that families are extremely diverse. There are many factors that put children’s development and family outcomes at risk. Things like poverty, adult mental health, substance abuse, divorce, and domestic violence all can have a significant impact on children.

It is important to note that we are expanding our discussion to the inclusion of parenting partners in general. Those could very well be traditional mother/father dynamics or alternatives that include families with gay or lesbian parenting partners. Research studies have been very clear that the sexual orientation of parents does not put children at risk (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013). Multiple studies have looked at both the developmental and psychological outcomes of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. The results are the same time and again, “a family’s social and economic resources and the strength of the relationships among members of the family are far more important variables than parental gender or sexual orientation in affecting children’s development and well-being” (Lamm, 2012).

This is why it is so important that you, as a home visitor, find opportunities to explore with the entire family, their interest in participating in your visits.  Here are some suggestions for helping all parenting partners feel comfortable during home visits:

  • Always make an effort to schedule your visits when all parenting partners can participate
  • Talk with everyone about how they were parented, what they want to be different for their children and how they can start now to be a Great Parent
  • Encourage parents to respect each other’s role and importance as a parent
  • Share information with mothers and grandmothers, pointing out the benefits for their child of involving potentially influential parenting partners
  • Keep in mind that all kinds of brains can be re-wired when given opportunities to experience joy with a child and when you affirm the positive things they are doing
  • Remember that the strength-based beliefs for change apply to all family members
  • Engage all parenting partners in child development activities with their child

You are not alone! GGK provides many tools for motivating participation in home visits. The entire curriculum is written and designed to support parent involvement.  All conversation guides, parent handouts, and child development activities have been created to be inclusive of all family members.

When appropriate to the dynamics of the family, remember that the GGK Prenatal Manual incorporates 4 entire modules written specifically for father figures and designed to be completed sequentially, including an extensive list of topics related to:

o   Moving into Fathering Territory

o   Becoming a Winning Family Team

o   Driver’s Course for Dads

o   Fatherhood: The Dad I Am Becoming

There are several parent handouts in these 4 modules that are specifically intended to engage father figures in meaningful conversations. Handouts are intended to increase their awareness of relationship building both before and after the birth of the baby; provide motivation and gain confidence to grow parenting skills, discuss how to balance work, life, parenthood and relationships; and identify what they can begin to do to contribute to their family’s functioning and happiness while exploring the type of parents they would like to be.

Growing Great Families – Unit 3 also includes a couple conversation guides that you might want to consider:

  • Module 4: Becoming a 3-Generation Family
  • Module 5: Role Clarification in 3 Generation Families

The GGK curriculum supports the many ways in which all parents are present in the child’s life.  They can be single or married; employed outside the home or stay-at-home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent; grandfathers raising grandchildren; and also parenting partners who face a physical or psychological challenge. Remember to show genuine appreciation of all family members by acknowledging their capacity to improve their children’s outcomes – every home visit is an opportunity to motivate them to be both physically and emotionally present and to be engaged with their child!



American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on the Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Promoting the wellbeing of children whose parents are gay or lesbian. Pediatrics. 2013; in press

U.S. Census Bureau (2011). Living Arrangement of Children: 2009. Retrieved from

Davies, J. (2015). Fatherhood Institute: Supporting fathers to play their part. Community Practitioner, 88(1), 13. Retrieved from

Fatherhood Institute (2014). Bringing Fathers In: Resources for advocates, practitioners, and researchers. Retrieved from Fatherhood

Lamb ME. Mothers, fathers, families, and circumstances: factors affecting children’s adjustment. Appl Dev Sci. 2012;16(2):98–111

Moore, T. and Kotelchuck, M., (2004). Predictors of urban fathers’ involvement in their child’s heath care.Pediatrics, 113(3), pp.574-580


Recent Posts

The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Great Kids has been up to some exciting things for the past couple of years, and we are finally ready to share with the rest of the world! We have completed our most comprehensive update of our GGK Prenatal to 36 months (GGK P36) curriculum series – we call it the “GGK P36 NEXT GENERATION” series. It has been a labor of love for us. We intentionally reviewed all components of the curriculum, listened to feedback from the field, and incorporated the best practices in early childhood for our revisions, and the result is spectacular.

read more
Welcoming a New Sibling

Welcoming a New Sibling

In today’s technology-driven world, it seems so much simpler to capture special moments. Most of us usually have our phone handy, so...

read more

Let’s Play!

We’re going to spend some time talking about the different ways that children play. You’ve probably noticed that all children like to...

read more

Growing Great Kids® Next Generation P-36

Our latest effort to support the work of Home Visiting, our Growing Great Kids® Next Generation (GGK®) Curriculum materials.

GGK® for Preschoolers

A Curriculum & Certification Program for Home Visitors aimed at fostering the growth of nurturing, developmentally enriched parenting skills, building protective factors for children 3 to 5 years old.

Other Products and Training

Great Kids™ is dedicated to supporting programs and practitioners with a variety of curricula and training options.

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas. 

How to Get Started

Start by scheduling a free 30-minute webinar to learn more about how your organization might benefit from Great Kids™ affordable curriculum with no recurring costs.

Schedule Your Free Webinar Today

Frequently Asked Questions from Our New Customers

Please review common questions for those that are new to Great Kids™. Book your free, personalized webinar to learn more.

For Our Existing Customers

Thank you for being part of the Great Kids™ family of agencies and programs. Support from Great Kids™ is just a click or phone call away.

Pre and Post Certification Products

All the tools you need to start using Great Kids™ Curriculum right away and to continue to enhance the effectiveness of your program.

Ordering Materials

Need replacement manuals? Want to add to your library of Great Kids™ resources? Find everything you need here.

  • New Products
  • Recovery-Impact-Support-Empower
  • Replacement Materials
  • Spanish Materials Available

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas. 

Existing Customer FAQs

Are you a past or current customer of Great Kids™? Find common questions and answers here.

Pricing Information for Existing Customers

Find pricing for companion products and other programs.

About Great Kids™

In partnership with home visitors, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of children feel safe and secure, loved and valued, curious and capable.

Contact Great Kids

100 North 72nd Avenue

Wausau, WI 54401


Phone: 1-800-906-5581


Great Kids™ has incorporated decades of theoretical and empirical foundations regarding the kinds of interventions that have been shown to make a difference for children into the Growing Great Kids® Prenatal to 5 Years and Growing Great Families® curricula.

Alignment With Program Models

Our curricula are flexible enough to be used within a multitude of program models.

Protective Factors

The research-based principles of the Protective Factors Framework were foundational in the development of the Growing Great Kids® Curriculum.

Great Kids Blog

Find informative articles about growing creativity in young children, welcoming a new sibling, playing outside, as well as general Great Kids™ updates.

GK Video Podcast

A video podcast series dedicated to overcoming bias in others, and within our selves.

Open Enrollment

Great Kids is proud to offer a variety of virtual seminar opportunities! Visit our Open Enrollment page for the latest dates and offerings.


We continuously add seminars, so invite you to check back often! For more information or to enroll, contact us at


We look forward to partnering with you!



We will contact you for scheduling!