Celebrating all fathers and saluting their work
Here at Children’s Home & Aid we know that families come in all dynamic shapes and sizes. We also know from our work that closing achievement gaps and reducing harm to youth often includes having a capable, interested and engaged father or father figure in their lives.
Despite the propagated negative narrative that can follow dads – especially about low-income and/or dads of color – in their lives, at their jobs, in the legal or child welfare systems, we recognize fathers as capable, determined change-makers committed to their family’s and community’s success. And we are prepared – as part of our own blueprint – to walk beside them while they navigate complex and obstacle-ridden systems.
For instance, during our flagship virtual event earlier this month, a grandfather, Kevin, shared his incredible story of adopting his grandchildren after his daughter passed away. He spoke openly and courageously through a poem called “Dbldaddy’s Love” about his fears but also his love for family and how that, for him, is the driver of his decisions. We were proud that our Parents Care & Share program team members and other participants have helped him take on his role as “double daddy” to his grandchildren. Beyond this, he has found room to give back to that group as well, sharing his foster and adoptive experiences as his commitment to supporting other parents is an important factor for his goal of making a better, stronger community for himself and his family to grow.
Earlier this spring, we featured Chris and Nick in our blog, two foster parents who opened their hearts and home to a little boy who needed a nurturing place to live as a baby. The couple did this and, despite becoming incredibly attached to the boy, maintained a strong relationship with the child’s biological family. Making it even harder, COVID-19 restrictions and the slow nature of the court system has extended the boy’s stay, making the uncertainty even more challenging, but Chris and Nick leaned in and reached out to our foster support teams to help them through this challenge to provide the best outcomes for the little boy.
There is no single definition of fatherhood and our goal is to provide and expand services for those like Chris, Nick and Kevin, no matter how those dads arrive in our programs. Especially when we know that, in our society, it is often taboo for dads or those in fatherhood roles to hash out feelings, mental health challenges, financial obstacles, and parenting struggles. But that is the hard work that needs to be done to make relationships and families more resilient. Fatherhood involvement, we know, creates a stronger sense of self-esteem in children, reduces juvenile delinquency and behavioral issues. This data, along with our commitment to building on the overwhelmingly positive response to our previous programming, has led us to the growth of our father-focused work – now called Thriving Fathers & Families — expanding both its available locations and services.
There is much work ahead to transform our key systems into more fair and equitable entities for families, including the acknowledgment and dismantling of barriers aimed at fathers, their voice, and their ability to have healthy relationships with their children and other family members. Brighter futures for families hinge on the involvement of the whole family and this month we appreciate the energy and willingness of those fulfilling the fatherhood role who are doing the intentional work and planning to ensure that they and their families thrive.
Happy Father’s Day!
CEO & President