How can you help a father from an abusive background break that self doubt? My husband was mentally and physically abused growing up and it has caused him to have serious doubts with our son. (Fear of bathing him as his parents almost made him drown as a child, when he gets hurt my husband beats himself up over it). I try to encourage and assure him he is doing well, but I am not sure if there is more I could do.
One of the key lessons we are learning is that it is critical to rewrite your life story. There are moments like the one you are describing where it is more likely necessary to seek a therapist. Continue to affirm his ability to be a great father and praise in those areas. However at the same time being able to explore his past can help him in moving forward with his future.
How do you typically engage with young fathers who didn't plan their baby- I suppose I'm asking how you prep, encourage, and maybe comfort teen dads who are weighing whether they plan to stay in their child's life?
Start your conversation with young fathers by asking what kind of father they would like to be and what are the obstacles that are preventing them to do so. Once you establish that dialog, you can put in place a good plan to help them remain involved with their children.
My biological father left my family when I was very young. My stepfather had also abandoned his previous children, and committed to raising me carefully to atone for the kids he left behind. He raised me very well, and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to have a father.
I know he still feels guilty about his previous kids. Do other fathers feel the same kind of guilt when leaving their kids? How do we help them heal and manage their anxieties about whether they can still be good fathers after the fact?
I think we often forget that there is our truth, our dad’s truth and “the” truth. The truth is, we all have issues that need to be resolved. I too, struggled with the same issue with my first child. However, I got it right with the next 4. For as well as I believe I did, to this day I still harbor a level of guilt for what I did not provide for my first child. Forgiveness is what helped me! Forgiveness of our fathers and forgiveness of ourselves are necessary for the journey to move forward.
What can moms do to help Dads get more involved?
Compassion and understanding are the biggest tools for Moms to use in becoming involved with Dads and assisting them to be the best parents they desire. Moms are great supporters, however mutual respect, agreement and understanding for established roles are key.
I have a 25 year old son. After divorce from his mom he’s been anywhere from distant and hostile to loving and caring. The loving and caring times seem to coincide with his need for money. I’ll admit that the divorce was caused by my misbehavior. Years have gone by since then. It’s hard to communicate with him as he’s moved cross country. How do I maintain my relationship with him yet urge him into self sufficiency and getting into a career position that will provide for him ?
I know so many dads who are dealing with similar circumstances. As my first daughter became older and we faced the same thing, I learned that I could not come into her life attempting to “fix” her. To be honest, I did not have the right, even though I was her father. Remember, our children don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Let your first step to re-establishing your relationship be letting him know how much you care. Be patient!!!! Let him bring the conversation to you, don’t force it. Over time he will have both a level of trust and desire for you to be “DAD”.
How do you raise a child without spanking? I was spanked growing up, and sometimes it seems like a spanking would be the best way to drive the point home to a child.
People say time out, but how in the world do you enforce the time out if they won't stay in it?
I am like you and believed that spanking was the way to go. After I spanked my first child I realized that it didn't help and it was the worst I ever felt in my life. I then learned to communicate. I learned that there were better ways to discipline my children without using force. All five tuned out just fine, even though they gave me challenges. There are some great books out there to help you with healthy ways to discipline your child through those difficult ages.
I find this topic fascinating, that it is difficult for fathers to figure out ways to be active in the lives of their kids. This is completely foreign to me. Being active with my kids and the fathers I hang out with is a no brainer. So my question is, why is it that some dads have difficulty in this regard? Especially when it's so easy.
I’m gonna need some advice from you :-) Not very many people I’ve worked with have described parenting as easy. What I do know is that one’s ability to navigate parenting hinges on the examples they have experienced in being parented or how they have seen parenting take place in their lives. The best parents have had the best examples. The others need a little help and support to be the best they desire to be.
What do you think are the most widespread misconceptions about fathers/fatherhood in our culture?
I believe there are two big misconceptions about dads today: 1) that as a blanket statement, we fail to show up in the lives of our children and 2) we don’t matter with regards to the impact we have on the development of our children. Both of which have been proven by research to be mistruths. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/12/fathers-day-facts/ft_16-06-14_fathersday_identity-2/
I have a newborn, first child. He’s almost two weeks old. I help my wife feed him at night and also read him books before I go to bed. Is there anything else I can do to be more involved starting now?
You are off to a great start. Both spending time and reading are critical activities which contribute to the healthy development of your child. Not to mention your presence and involvement will play a huge role in deepening your relationship with mom. I think you are on the right track. If I was going to add anything, it would be to enjoy every moment of your experience as a dad.
I think all of us know a “deadbeat dad” or two. What can we do to encourage them to be a father to their child(ren)? When I was single I would try to let them know, with compassion, that I couldn’t date a man who didn’t care for his offspring. Is this a good method or does this just put bad dads in contact with vulnerable kids?
Yes, you are correct. We all know a few, however I become more hopeful as I know so many other dads that are fully engaged. Personally, I do not like the term. I think for many of them being “beat” is not the issue. The issue is being “broke”. There is always an underlying issue for dads who seem to not want to be involved, but really just don’t know how to be involved. And that my friend is frightening. You are doing the absolute right thing by having compassion for them. At some point as he sees your behavior with your children, he will begin to become trusting enough of you to want to learn how you do it.
So, alot of strides have been made in uplifting financial prosperity of African Americans in this country. Alot of doors are being forced open and alot of first generation wealth is being made. For these individuals, this is uncharted territory for entire families. Your parents, aunts, uncles, dont understand your particular set of problems to offer practical advice. And the individual is left to navigate a world that is totally brand new to the, as they figure out which values to keep and release from the old world.
I personally have questions about raising children (of which I have yet to have). My scrappy underdog story is what has been the fule in my career. I have used my pain and the memory of nights without as a driving force for going that extra mile to gain accomplishments. My children won't have to deal with that. I guess that I am broken in a sense to think that the fear of pain and being without is the strongest motivation for success. I have with witnessed alot if powerful individuals with mediocre (at best) children, due to laziness and entitlement. I want to have a positive relationship with my future children without beating them down with the idea if work ethic and success, but continuing progress for future generations is a big concern of mine. Would you have any suggestions on navigating this delima?
This is an awesome question. You are to be commended for the accomplishments you have made in your own life. As you think about your own children, keep in mind what you wanted and what you needed as a child. Talk to other great parents in your circle. I'm sure they would love to share with you their challenges and joys of parenthood. Don't only take your cues from those that seem to be struggling, but those who are having success in fatherhood as well.
I’ve seen a few new fathers who, once their child is born really have to bury themselves in work to ensure that their new family is properly taken care of. How would you recommend a father still connect when having to work 60+ hours a week? I realize in a perfect world that father would be able to get a better position, but that’s not always exactly immediately attainable.
I had a friend ask me a couple of years ago; "What is the difference between a father who only has 50% custody of their children and one who travels 50% of the time." What I've learn in my own parenting is that my children remember the quality of our time together, not the quantity. You say, you work 60 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week. If you only sleep 6 hours a day like most hard workers, you still have 66 hours left over..That's 9 hours per day. I believe in you...The math may not be completely right, but you can figure out what to do with those 9 hours as day :-)
What can I do as a mom to encourage my son's(6M) dad to be part of his life?
We have been apart for 5 years and he has admitted that he still is not over me"breaking up the family". I have been very compassionate and understanding (sometimes getting angry, who wouldn't?) as he has been absent for 4 years. He stated multiple times in the early stages that he was going to be everything his father wasn't (absent his whole life) and break the cycle. Yet here we are...
This is heartbreaking, however I comment you for hanging in there and continuing to attempt to make a connection with him. Your children will appreciated you for doing this. I know its hard. I have worked with thousands of dads and moms. I've heard a lot of these stories and the answer always cause me some level of pain to give. Unfortunately he has to age and mature. For him (while there is no excuse), its hard to be what you have never seen. Continue to have patience, and hopefully sooner that later, he will understand how important he is to the two of you regardless of the nature of the relationship.
Is there anything young men should do or avoid doing before becoming fathers? How does one prepare to be a dad?
I would suggest thinking about your future. Take it from a dad, I love my children dearly, however, life would have been so much easier to raise myself first before having the responsibility to raise a child. Look for organizations in your community who may be conducting fatherhood classes. Sometimes it is great to be around other dads, hear their stories and learn more about the responsibilities of being a father.
Do you have resources for adults who lost their absent/abusive fathers and never got closure?
How can I help?
I would suggest seeking organizations in your area who are working with dads. If none exist consider starting small by creating a support group at a local community center for dads. If you would like more information on how do do that, check our our toolkit at https://www.fatherhood.gov/toolkit/home