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Ideas for Increasing Father Involvement | Comprehensive Approaches | New and Expectant Fathers | Program and Parenting Classes | Fathers in Crisis | Copyright

Increasing Father Involvement
by Craig Scott Brooke-Weiss

Ideas for increasing father involvement:

There are a number of reasons (sociological, political and legalistic), or excuses, that father's involvement is often lacking. Focusing our attention on this issue and sending the message that fathers matter is very important. It is essential to ensure that every program that addresses parents' needs also ALWAYS includes attention to fathers' involvement and outreach. Parenting educators need to understand and practice father-friendly inclusiveness. Educators should address this issue in their classes by speaking about the importance of men and fathers in children's lives.

Comprehensive Approaches:

  • Refocus conversations about male/father responsibility to specifically include emotionally responsible fathering as well as financial responsibility. One shouldn't be said without the other.

  • Ensure that Pregnancy prevention efforts include information about

    1. the importance of fathers, and

    2. how to father if one does become a dad

  • Identify available services for fathers and disseminate this information into community by

    1. prepare a yellow page listing for fathers,

    2. prepare a resource guide for fathers, families and service providers.

  • Conduct outreach effort to educate mothers about the importance of fathers, including how they sometimes inadvertently discourage father's participation. A father can relieve mom's stress as well as increase the chances of a child's well being.

  • Participate in the "What My Dad Means to Me" essay contest and "Father of the Year Award": a community and schoolwide effort to raise awareness about the importance of fathers. Children write essays about that important male in their life. Contact FatherLove for details.

  • Pool media efforts to promote father (emotional, spiritual, and financial) involvement.

  • Hire and train a community spokesperson to become the "expert" for father involvement activities.

  • Promote the benefits of fathers taking family leave.

  • Coordinate efforts between agencies to strengthen families, such as Chattanooga's First Things First . This non-profit is confronting and unifying efforts with agencies and schools to curb teen pregnancies, divorce rates and fatherlessness. Merced, CA is another community that is working simultaneously to decrease violence and decrease fatherlessness.

New and Expectant Fathers:

  • Create pre-marriage family classes where new couples learn about and discuss issues of raising children. Family Support Centers are perfect places for this.

  • Make available an information sheet for new fathers at every prenatal clinic and doctor's office.

  • Hold "Paternity Parties" for new fathers (similar to Baby Showers).

  • Boot Camp for New Dads classes (for expectant and new fathers), such as presently at Northwest Hospital and Providence Hospital, Everett, WA.

  • Conscious Fathering classes (for expectant fathers), presently at Auburn and Highline Hospitals distribute monthly New Fathers Newsletters. New dads receive information pertinent to their parenting (and to increase their involvement) for the first 12 months of their baby's life. Information about infant's health, childhood illnesses, resources, men's health work and family issues should be included here. This has already been created by Denver's Boot Camp for New Dads (303-866-8280).

  • Facilitate once a month New Father and Child Get-Togethers at zoos, libraries, parks, etc.

  • Help create and promote father support groups, father-daughter(s), father-son(s) events, dads team leagues, etc.

Program and Parenting Classes:

  • Research tells us "The quality of the father's first visit to the program was critical for enrolling the father in future activities." Do what is necessary so that fathers will visit your program again.

  • Write father-child information or articles for all parent newsletters.

  • Hire male staff to serve fathers and men.

  • Provide staff and teacher trainings on issues of fatherhood.

  • As part of every parent class's curriculum, provide information about the importance of separating relationship issues from parenting issues.

  • Include information about the dangers of gatekeeping (a parent, typically a father needs to have the other parent's permission to have access to his/her child(ren).

  • Bring fathers into preschools, schools, community centers. Create father/child events such as dad-child lunches, dad and child playtime, after-school father tutoring.

  • Create or bring in parenting classes for fathers such as "The Nurturing Father Program," "Kids Need Dads," "Dads Active With Sons and Daughters, D.A.D.S," "Dads: A New Gathering for Single Fathers."

  • Create Saturday and evening classes for fathers and children. Dads help design program and set agenda. Courses are taught by State-licensed parent educators (men).

  • Display pictures of men with children in offices, schools and public meeting places.

For Fathers in Crisis:

  • Father/Men Hot line: information telephone line specifically for men/fathers to find healthy solutions to family and health problems.
    Austin Texas's Men/Father's line (512) 472-3237) is available and long distance charges do apply. (Also on the web at www.menhotline.org )

  • Parenting After Divorce (or separation) classes: extremely important,use there are very few community supports for non-custodial parents to remain in their children's lives after family relationships end.

  • Father Resource Center (such as Minnesota Fathers Resource Center (612-783-4900): provides classes such as the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting with curriculum developed specifically for fathers, father-to-father mentoring (pairing experienced fathers with young fathers), family law clinics, father support groups, pro se seminars, drop-in Anger management groups, etc.

  • Parent counseling and referral service (or telephone line): for parents experiencing problems maintaining contact with their children.

  • Legal assistance ensuring access to children (as in custodial parent's violation of parenting plan).

  • Parent Education and Cooperation Counseling Programs: enhance parents' cooperation in shared parenting (Commissioner Bill Harrington, US Commission Child and Family Welfare).

  • Special assistance for teen and young fathers: Programs such as MELD for Young Dads (612-332-7563) have already developed a strong curriculum to keep these fathers in their family's lives. (Also on the web at www.meld.org )

  • Homeless shelters to allot space for single fathers with their children.

  • FatherLove.com Hospitality Exchange : fathers visiting their children in other cities find it often financially prohibitive. Visiting children in a friendly home environment instead of a hotel is extremely important.

Copyright © 2000

Ideas for Increasing Father Involvement | Comprehensive Approaches | New and Expectant Fathers | Program and Parenting Classes | Fathers in Crisis | Copyright


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