BOX 6-6

The New Beginnings Program: A Parenting Intervention for Families Dealing with Divorce

The New Beginnings Program (NBP) (Wolchik, Sandler, et al., 2007) is designed to strengthen parenting (warmth and discipline), increase father–child contact and nonparental adult support, and reduce divorce stressors. The first randomized controlled trial of NBP, which involved an 11-session group program designed to work with divorced residential mothers of children ages 8-15, led to significantly lower levels of child-reported aggression and parent-reported behavior problems and improved parental warmth and discipline. Improvements in maternal warmth partially mediated program effects on children’s mental health problems. A second trial involved 240 divorced mothers of children ages 9-12. Compared with a literature-only control group, children whose mothers participated in NBP demonstrated significantly fewer internalizing and externalizing behavior problems; participating mothers had more effective disciplinary techniques and more positive relationships with their children (Wolchik, West, et al., 2000). At six-year follow-up (Wolchik, Sandler, et al., 2002), exposure to the program continued to show positive effects. The effects of fewer mental health problems and improved grade point average were mediated by improvements in parental warmth and discipline attributable to the program (Zhou, Sandler, et al., 2008).

2004). Two trials of the New Beginnings Program demonstrated positive results, with some benefits sustained at six-year follow-up (see Box 6-6).

One randomized controlled trial of a program for noncustodial fathers, Dads for Life, has shown positive effects. The program teaches skills to improve father–child relationships and reduce postdivorce interparental conflict. Over a 12-month period, the program reduced children’s internalizing problems, increased parental alliance, and reduced conflict between the parents (Braver, Griffin, and Cookston, 2005). Two studies evaluating the effects of programs targeted at changes in the divorce process have shown positive effects in improving the postdivorce relationship between the parents (Emery, Sbarra, and Grover, 2005; Pruett, Insabella, and Gustafson, 2005). Finally, programs directed at children through schools have had benefits in reducing internalizing and externalizing problems (Pedro-Carroll, Sutton, and Wyman, 1999; Stolberg and Mahler, 1994).

Parental Death. A meta-analysis of 13 evaluations of interventions (Currier, Holland, and Neimeyer, 2007) to address the needs of parentally bereaved children failed to find significant effects. The studies had numerous methodological weaknesses, however, including small sample sizes and a lack of follow-up assessments.

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