Give Your Family
A Strong Start
Every child deserves a strong parenting team. Get ready now before the arrival of your new baby with the proven Family Foundations series.
“As a Family Foundations instructor and long-time childbirth and parenting educator, I endorse the solid, effective, and evidence-based techniques used in Family Foundations. There is ample time in the classes for the couples to practice the techniques, build upon them at home, and get feedback from the instructors. By presenting this material to the couples while pregnant, they have time to become comfortable with them prior to giving birth — and then become better communicators, partners, and parents.”
– Brigid Grode, RNC, CPCE, CD (DONA)
Developed and researched by Mark Feinberg, Ph.D., Family Foundations is the result of years of his work as a clinical psychologist, family therapist, and prevention scientist at Penn State University. Many colleagues, professionals, and families contributed to the development and testing of Family Foundations. We appreciate all of their support. NIH provided funding for the development and research.
Our Core Values:
We develop educational and support materials for families with a commitment to making sure they work. This is what sets us apart from most other developers of products and services for families: We are committed to an evidence-based approach. This means that we rely on research studies to indicate whether or not programs are actually helpful. Just as you want to know that the medicine your doctor prescribes has been tested and found effective, we also think that health-promoting programs should be supported by rigorous research.
Some educational and support programs that have been widely distributed were actually later found to be harmful to children or families. Because we have conducted research on Family Foundations before offering it to the public, you can be sure that the program does not cause harm. And because our results have been published in high quality, peer-reviewed scientific journals, you can be confident that the program produces the benefits we describe.
Our philosophy in developing materials is that you are the expert on what works best for you and your family. We provide enough flexibility within the materials and exercises so that you can bring your wisdom and values to the experience and develop a path that will work for your family. We provide tools and information based on research with families and children. But it is up to you to adapt these tools for your own family's needs and values.
Mark's thoughts about the past and future of Family Foundations:
What led you to develop Family Foundations?
Like many expectant parents, I had heard stories of how difficult the first years of parenthood were. Not only had I been trained as a psychologist in child and family relations, I had also read the primary research on parenthood and couples. So I thought my wife and I were going to handle parenthood without the usual difficulties that affect most couples. We were going to share the parenting load since I had flexibility in my work. And I had wanted to be a dad for a long time. We were going to avoid the stresses and difficulties that most new families face.
Boy, was I wrong.
It was not easy.
Our own experience motivated me to start Family Foundations. The childbirth classes we took prepared us for labor and birth, but there was no preparation for the years following birth. My wife had a mommy-and-me group, but there was nothing to help guide and support us together.
We were no longer a romantic couple focused on our own happiness. We were now a small business with one major stockholder (our child), two managing partners, and part-time help when we were lucky (grandparents and babysitters). Why did every couple have to re-invent the wheel?
How did you develop Family Foundations?
I used the research evidence to guide the development of the program every step of the way. We tested material with small groups of expectant and new parents to see what was working and what wasn’t. We made lots of changes, and still make changes now and then, based on feedback from real parents.
All of that took a lot of time and effort—and money. Fortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded me and Penn State University a few research grants to develop, refine, and test versions of the program. The result is a well crafted pathway. When the tools are practiced and used, they will help you make the transition to parenthood with as much joy and success as possible. Allowing good parents to become great parents. Together.
What is the future for Family Foundations?
We’re now working on expanding Family Foundations with colleagues around the country to create versions for teen parents, adoptive parents, gay/lesbian parents, parents of special needs children, and others. We’re working on creative ways to utilize technology to deliver the information and tools. And we hope to extend Family Foundations soon to help you support your child into the Terrible Two’s and beyond.
See supporting citations below, but first some quotes:
Nora Ephron (Heartbreak)
“Now, of course, I realized something else no one tells you; that a child is a grenade. When you have a baby, you set off an explosion in your marriage, and when the dust settles, your marriage is different from what it was.”
New York Magazine
“This is the brutal reality about children—they’re such powerful stressors that small perforations in relationships can turn into deep fault lines.”
Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression R.J. Evenson & R.W. Simon. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 2005, 46: 341–358
Adding A Baby To The Equation: Married And Cohabiting Women's Relationship Satisfaction In The Transition To Parenthood. Mortensen Ø, Torsheim T, Melkevik O, Thuen F. Family Process 2012, 51(1):122-39.
The Effect Of The Transition To Parenthood On Relationship Quality: An 8-Year Prospective Study. Doss BD, Rhoades GK, Stanley SM, Markman HJ. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 2009, 96(3):601-19.
Research shows that
Family Foundations benefits parents and children:
Competence in Children
(3 years of age)
(6 months after birth)
Lower Parental Stress
(6 months after birth)
Lower aggression in boys
(3 years of age)
(1 year after birth)