Using the Health Belief Model (HBM) as a theoretical framework, we studied factors related to parental intention to participate in parenting programs and examined the moderating effects of parent gender on these factors. Participants were a community sample of 290 mothers and 290 fathers of 5- to 10-year-old children. Parents completed a set of questionnaires assessing child emotional and behavioral difficulties and the HBM constructs concerning perceived program benefits and barriers, perceived child problem susceptibility and severity, and perceived self-efficacy. The hypothesized model was evaluated using structural equation modeling. The results showed that, for both mothers and fathers, perceived program benefits were associated with higher intention to participate in parenting programs. In addition, higher intention to participate was associated with lower perceived barriers only in the sample of mothers and with higher perceived self-efficacy only in the sample of fathers. No significant relations were found between intention to participate and perceived child problem susceptibility and severity. Mediation analyses indicated that, for both mothers and fathers, child emotional and behavioral problems had an indirect effect on parents’ intention to participate by increasing the level of perceived benefits of the program. As a whole, the proposed model explained about 45 % of the variance in parental intention to participate. The current study suggests that mothers and fathers may be motivated by different factors when making their decision to participate in a parenting program. This finding can inform future parent engagement strategies intended to increase both mothers’ and fathers’ participation rates in parenting programs.