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Fatherhood, Co-Parenting and Child Support information. Get a better of understanding of your rights as a parent before you go to court. We will also give you information on how to be a better father and co-parent with the mother. Our goal is to increase father's involvement in the family structure.

The 20 Most Common Parenting Mistakes I See

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, November 27, 2020

The 20 Most Common Parenting Mistakes I See

By Mike Leary Jan 25 2016, 10:28 PM


What are some common mistakes parents make that could actually hurt their children’s mental and physical health in the long term?

I have seen so many good intentions go horribly wrong over the years that can result in self-harm, suicide and, in extreme cases, even murder. Here are some of the most common mistakes that can be really harmful to kids.



1. Giving Them Too Many Choices

Many parents think children always should have endless choices, when the reality is kids can be overwhelmed if they’re always given so many options.


2. Praising Them for Everything They Do

It’s very common now to see kids who are almost junkies for praise. They won’t do anything unless there is a payoff for them.


3. Trying to Make the Child Happy

Their job is to learn to make themselves happy, and you can never force a child to be happy.


4. Overindulging Them

They will almost always end up believing acquisitions lead to happiness. This sets up chasing the never-satisfying carrots, and can result in addictions and compulsions.


5. Keeping Them Too Busy

Most commonly with sports. Many parents wrongly believe “activities” will keep their kid out of trouble, but often times this will lead to the child being burned out or even becoming a bully.


6. Thinking Smart Will Save Them

It can be tempting for parents to promote smart as the end-all-be-all. Yet this can lead to a child becoming arrogant, thinking everyone else is stupid or secretly believe that they have to put on an act and are a fraud. As a result, nobody likes them.


7. Thinking a Strict Religion Will Give Them Perfect Values and Save Them

The first time they see hypocrisy in their parents or the touted beloved leaders, the house of cards start to fall.


8. Withholding Common Information About Important Topics — Like Sex

Many parents are terrified of talking about sex, and believe avoiding discussing it with their children will save them. But I’ve seen 13-year-old girls get pregnant, sometimes just to flaunt it at their parents.


9. Being Hyper-Critical of the Child’s Mistakes

It can be easy to assume intense scrutiny promotes success and makes kids better. But kids raised this way are driven to perfection in everything from looks, likability, sports, smarts, or you name it. When a mistake happens, they are worthless as a human being and start getting so angry that in some cases they will resort to self-harm even to the point of suicide.


10. Using Shame, Shunning, or Threats

Never imply that there is a chance you might not love your child due to their actions, as some parents do so in order to get their kids to achieve compliance. It is a short term gain with abandonment lurking in the shadows. Then the child doesn’t care either.


11. Making Kids Do Things Inappropriate for Their Age

I have 3 patients right now who, by age 4, were having to feed themselves and or had to be in charge of a sibling also. I’ve seen many who didn’t have children of their own because as they all said; “I raised my family.”


12. Not Limiting Screen Time

Whether it’s TV, video, games, phone or texting. I know a family where the mom and teenage son text each other constantly and no one else can get into their relationship link.


13. Not Letting Kids Get Bored

Some parents think children are supposed to be stimulated at all times and it’s their job to avoid boredom. Then kids don’t learn to be creative and find the way out of boredom in themselves.


14. Protecting Kids From Their Own Consequences and Loss

I see parents with good intentions get their kids everything, from a simple toy to buying them out of legal trouble, and suddenly are surprised when the child respects nothing. All of us need to learn losing is just another way to gain wisdom and experience about what not to do.


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Sammy's Guide to Internet Safety

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, November 19, 2020

The guide teaches kids how to enjoy the internet safely while providing fun activities and games.

How Dads Can Get More Involved in Education

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

How Dads Can Get More
Involved in Education

By Saron Messay from National PTA'S




A father’s involvement with his child plays a vital role in their development and the socio-emotional and academic functioning within their lives.

Research shows that when dads and other father figures are engaged in children’s education, student grades and test scores improve, attendance increases, and students are more involved in school activities.

While fathers are spending more time with their children, many feel they’re still not doing enough. Roughly half (48%) say they spend too little time with their kids. Only 25% of mothers say the same.


Dads + Kids = Improved Milestones

Active and regular father engagement with children impacts a range of positive outcomes, including enhancing cognitive development and decreasing delinquency and poverty in low socioeconomic families. It is important to educate men about the benefits of their engagement and support, not only at home but in their schools as well.

With more fathers stepping up in their daily roles and becoming more active with their children, the change of roles has introduced a new form of fatherhood in America.

With fathers taking a more active role within communities and schools, it is important to share these values with other dads through engagement programs and various projects. Here are some programs that encourage dads to be involved:


The PTA MORE Alliance is helping PTAs get more men involved in students’ education. The partnering organizations The WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program can also help you reach and engage your dads as can All Pro Dad, Strong Fathers-Strong Families and 100 Black Men of America, Inc. These four programs make up

All of these programs and resources have proven to be effective tools in bringing fathers and father-figures into schools in unique and powerful ways in order to build PTA membership and capacity.


Dad-To-Dad Tips

Eric Snow, president and cofounder of WATCH D.O.G.S.—and a dad shares the countless ways dads can be involved in their child’s education at all ages that will make a difference.


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Why Fatherhood Is Important to a Child’s Education

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Why Fatherhood Is
Important to a Child’s Education

by Letise Dennis from Family Living, Parenting


Fatherhood may not be a rare gift, but it is certainly one to be highly valued and carefully guarded. When a new life is created, the child brings to the mother and father not only exponential joy but also a lifelong commitment and interdependent relationship.

Fathers play many important roles in a child’s life, varying in each individual family based on the provisions of the father and needs of the child. An area in which our society is significantly suffering, though, is the involvement of fathers in the education of our children.

Many fathers are doing an excellent job of participating daily in the education of our nation’s children, but there is still a large percentage not engaging with teachers, homework, schools, and academic development.

Before going any deeper into why and how fathers should get involved in education, a definition of fatherhood should first be explained. Sticking with a formal definition, fatherhood can be simply stated as a state-of-being in relation to being a father. For the context of this article, though, let’s take it one step farther.

Children do not stop needing their fathers because life circumstances or relationships change, because they get older, or because lives get busy. Once a man enters into fatherhood, he is a member for life, and whether he is man enough to take on that challenge or not is up to him. The impact a father has on a child is irreplaceable, as numerous studies have shown, the absence of a father can result in negative consequences that can affect all areas of a child’s life.



One of those significant areas is education. Children with involved fathers tend toward achieving academic success across the board, higher IQs, improved test results, and better attitudes toward school. They are less likely to drop out, fail classes, or develop behavioral concerns.

Knowing children with involved fathers have such a clear academic advantage, here are some ways in which fathers can become actively involved with their child’s learning.


Watch D.O.G.S.

The National Center for Fathering has created a program called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) to help connect fathers with their children’s schools. They volunteer a day of their time doing varying activities around the school such as assisting teachers, helping to monitor the car line, patrolling the school, and other various tasks as assigned. This is not only a huge assistance to teachers and school staff, but it also helps the children know that their fathers care enough to take a day off from work and invest in the betterment of the school. If Watch D.O.G.S. is not available as an option, ask the school administration or teachers about other volunteer opportunities to get involved.


Bedtime Stories

Find out from the child’s teacher what topics they are covering right now at school. Check out a book from the library or download one online that relates in some way to what is being taught at school. As a part of the bedtime routine, read together this book and discuss anything newly discovered or learned. This will develop a healthy habit of reading every night, will open up communication regarding school and learning, and will create very special memories shared between father and child.


Weekend Exploration

If weekdays prove impossible for a father to engage in many school-related activities, plan to take full advantage of the weekends. For every weekend, base at least one outing or adventure on something connected to either a lesson learned at school that week or something new the child has always wanted to try. This will reinforce learning at school, enable a more hands-on educational experience, and facilitate bonding time.


Ride to School

Mornings are often the most hectic time of the day, but if at all possible, arranging schedules to allow for driving children to school in the morning will open the door for some great conversations along the way. What do you have going on today? What are you most looking forward to? Are you nervous about anything? If it is possible to take the few extra minutes to walk the child to class, too, this makes it easy to speak with the teacher and other school staff. If this time in the morning is impossible to do, a quick appearance at lunch will make a world of difference in a student’s day and allow for the same communication with teachers and staff.


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The Effective Stepfather: A Check-List to Live By

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, October 16, 2020

The Effective Stepfather:
A Check-List to Live By

by Ron Deal from Fathers.com



Anyone who has been a father and then a stepfather knows that they aren’t the same. While many aspects of these two roles are similar, it is the unique ones that lead to disillusionment. Franklin put it this way: “I’ve been to every Promise Keepers conference and I’ve studied fathering with my men’s group many times. But nothing has prepared me for being a stepfather. With my own kids I have a natural leadership authority that allows me to teach them and be directive. With my stepchildren I constantly feel like I’m one step behind, like I have to establish myself each time I engage them.”


Step fathering can be challenging. Perhaps that’s why many stepfathers disconnect from their stepchildren emotionally and withdraw from daily responsibilities. The unmapped territory seems to have many land mines and it’s easier to just retreat than to engage the “enemy.” But stepfathers can have profound and important leadership roles with stepchildren. Like Joseph, who wasn’t Jesus’ biological parent, stepfathers can offer guidance, love, and encouragement to the children under their care. Here’s a map for the territory and some practical action points for stepfathers.


Get a Lay of the Land

All stepparents need to understand the emotional climate of their stepchildren. Stepfathers are no different. For example, being aware of the child’s emotional wounds and hurts from past losses is vital to coping with the sometimes angry or oppositional attitudes of children in stepfamilies.

It is also very important that stepfathers recognize that gaining respect and leadership from stepchildren is a process; you earn the right to lead by developing trust and connection with stepchildren. You must be willing, for example, to enter the child’s life as an “outsider” who slowly finds acceptance, at the child’s pace. For many men it is very disturbing to realize that their stepchildren get to determine the pace at which they find acceptance in the family. And it’s true—you don’t get to control your parental status—the children do. They will open their heart to you when they are ready. Until then, you must cope with feeling out-of-control and find ways to work within the system as it is. Here are some tools that might help.


Tools for the Stepfather Tool Box

Initially Provide Indirect Leadership

There are two kinds of influence (or power) in relationships: 1) positional power and 2) relational power. Initially as a stepfather you have positional power because you are an adult in the house who is married to the children’s mother. Much like a teacher at school, you have positional power. As your relationship with the children grows, often over a period of years, you gain relational power because they now care about you personally. Your opinions matters more, your validation is sought after, and your warm embrace feels safe.

In the beginning, when limited to positional power, effective stepfathers provide in-direct leadership in their home by leading through their wife who holds a great deal of relational power with the children. Work with her behind the scenes to establish boundaries, expectations, and the values that will govern your home. While she might be the one to communicate the values and hand down discipline, you can still be very responsible to set a godly tone for the family.


Express Your Commitment

Articulate your commitment to your stepchildren’s mother. Keep in mind, however, that early on this won’t necessarily be considered a positive by your stepchildren. In fact, they may be threatened by it. Children who hold a strong fantasy that their parents will reconcile can find your commitment a barrier to life as they would have it. Additionally, mom’s remarriage (whether following a death or divorce) is often perceived as another loss to children, not a gain (as you see it). Be patient with their adjustment to your marriage, but communicate your commitment to the permanency of the marriage nevertheless.


Communicate Your Role

It’s important to verbalize your understanding of your role. Children need to hear that you know that you’re not their dad and won’t try to take his place. Communicating that same understanding to their father is also very helpful to him; hopefully this will help him to not fear your involvement with his kids. As his fear decreases, his cooperative spirit about your presence may increase. Finally, tell your stepkids that you are looking forward to your growing relationship and that you know how awkward that can be for the child. Let them know that if they feel stuck between you and their dad, they can make you aware of it and it won’t hurt your feelings.


Be a Spiritual Leader

Many stepfathers discover that sharing faith matters is, in addition to spiritual training for the child, a good way to connect emotionally. Processing the moral content of a TV program or “thinking out loud” about your decision not to spend money on a bigger fishing boat helps children see your character and learn important spiritual values at the same time. Show them you are a person worthy of respect and they’ll eventually give you respect.


Be Approachable

As a therapist I always know I’m going to have a tough time helping a family when the stepfather is defensive and easily hurt by the typical reactions of stepchildren. Part of being approachable and accessible to stepchildren is knowing that not everything is about you. In fact, most of kid’s negative reactions to stepparents are really about the child’s losses (stepparents just happen to be the easy target for child’s heartache). Until you have worked through the struggles of building a relationship, most of what a kids throws at you is a test of your character. Show yourself not easily offended and able to deal with their emotional ups and downs. This will make it more likely that they see you as someone they can trust.


Show Appreciation

If you want to win someone’s heart, give them a thousand compliments (even when they aren’t asking for it). Showing appreciation is the quickest way to build someone up and help them to feel comfortable in your presence. By contrast, be cautious with criticism. Words of affirmation go along way to engendering safety and closeness.


Spend Time Together

Find time to be with your stepchildren, but do so with wisdom. If a child is not welcoming of your presence, join their life at a distance. This means taking them to their soccer game and cheering from the sidelines, but not being too much of a coach. It also means knowing what’s important to them and gently inquiring with interest: “You studied for three hours last night for that science exam. How did it go?” “I know you’ve got a big date this Friday. I noticed a concert in the paper today that you might consider attending. I think she’d like this, but it’s your call whether you go.”


Also, if you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there. Don’t disappoint a child who is deciding whether to let you in their heart or not.


As your relationship grows, you can spend one-on-one time with the child, go on special retreats together, and serve side-by-side in your church’s summer work camp. Focused time will deepen the trust and emotional bond in your relationship.


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Know! Six R’s for Less Stress Homeschooling

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Know! Six R’s for Less Stress Homeschooling



The pandemic wreaked havoc on many families’ summer plans, and now as school starts back in session, it appears the turbulence will continue. Some schools plan to take place in-person, some plan to go virtual, some are planning for a blended version. Regardless of how it starts off, most schools have been clear that all plans are subject to change depending on COVID-19 numbers—which gives way to more uncertainty.

Uncertainty means different things for different people, as we are each faced with unique family dynamics and circumstances. However, we are all in the same boat when it comes to the concern for how these changes will impact our children’s academic success, mental health, physical well-being, and futures.

Whether your children are at home from the start or may be learning from home at some point, here are some tips to keep in mind to help them achieve success academically, stay physically and mentally healthy, and forge ahead with resiliency.


Six R’s for less stress homeschooling:

Realistic Expectations: This is a key starting point. Set your standards high but be sure to give yourself and your children grace along the way. Don’t strive for perfection, be too intense, or overschedule. Simply do your best as you step into this type of teaching role while encouraging your child to do the same.


Requirements: Be clear on what is required of your child weekly and daily. Monitor their ability to comprehend the task at hand and complete the assignment. Depending on your individual child, your necessary level of involvement will vary—which means potentially more work and more stress for some families than others.


Rules and Routine: Create rules surrounding time for work and play. Many families find that it works best to get the schoolwork completed first, then have the rest of the day for play. If your child’s school requires them to be on live sessions, that will determine their schedule to some degree. However, it is up to you and your child to come up with a routine that fits best—then stick to it.


Relief: This comes in the form of self-care for you and for your child so that you can be in the best frame of mind to be helpful, and your child can be in the best frame of mind to continue learning. It’s essential that all parties involved are getting enough sleep, eating well-balanced diets, getting exercise, and making time to relax.


Resources: Check first with your child’s school to see what they have to offer, then go online as there are endless free resources to help with homeschooling.

Many of us got our first taste of homeschooling back in the spring when schools were shutting down across the nation. Depending on how that went for you and your child(ren), you may be feeling more or less stressed about beginning the new school year at home. You are encouraged to take it one day, one subject, one lesson at a time, and remember that we are all in this together and that this too shall pass.


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What I Wish I Knew When I Was a New Dad

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Thursday, August 06, 2020

What I Wish I Knew When I Was a New Dad

Thirteen experienced dads share some of the words of wisdom they wished they heard when they were first starting out.

By Matt Christensen Mar 11 2019, 2:04 PM

New dads have one thing in common: They don’t know what they don’t know. That is, until they’re not really new dads anymore, and what they know now becomes what they wish they would’ve known then. A lot can happen during those years between the trip home from the delivery room and, well, what comes next. And it’s those years that experienced fathers often look back on with precise hindsight, wishing not for a do-over, but maybe for a do-wiser.

To provide some insight to those of you who are just starting down the road of fatherhood, we talked to a variety of experienced dads about what they wished they knew when they were just starting out. If you’re a veteran dad, read on and reflect. If you’re a new dad, take notes.


1. Give Their Growing Brains More Credit

“I wish I knew how absorbent kids were. Not for cleaning up spills [laughs], but how much stuff they’ll remember about being a kid. Their brains are just constantly taking stuff in. My son is 12 now, and he reminds me about stuff we did when he was, like, three years old. Not detail-by-detail, but definitely much more clearly than I can remember some of those things. The rub is that he remembers the good — like pony rides and the ceramic owl that inspired his first word — but also the times when his mother and I were going through rough patches. Again, he doesn’t remember exactly what was said or anything, but he says he remembers the feelings around the house. Looking back, I wish I would’ve given his growing brain a little more credit.” – Keith, 43, Ohio


2. Time Goes by Very Quickly

“I wish I knew how fast the time really went, and how to be more present in the moment. You think they’re going to be little forever and you’re always going to have enough time to play and just do silly kid stuff. And then, all of a sudden, they’re driving themselves to the movies with friends, or you’re bringing them to their girlfriend’s house. I loved their childhood, but I wished I’d slowed down a bit more and really took stock of how fleeting those years really are. Because they’re definitely gone now.” – Jeremy, 44, New York


3. There’s Never Enough Space

“I wish I knew how much storage babies required. We had a nursery, and I thought that would be good to go. But, man, babies require stuff! All kinds of stuff. There’s the basic lot of diapers and toys and clothes, but then there’s space you need for the strollers, the car seats, the gates, the special furniture. It’s a lot! And the bummer is, most of it is obsolete after about six months or a year because the baby just keeps growing. Thank God for Craigslist, ya know?” – Jonathan, 39, Maryland


4. Relax, Poop Isn’t that Bad

“I wish I knew that poop isn’t that gross. Before your first kid, poop is sort of a mythical element. You only experience it in very private situations, or during rare, extraordinary events. With a new baby, though, it’s literally shit all the time. I was terrified to have to change diapers — I believed all the hype. But, it really wasn’t/isn’t that bad. It’s like watching the Saw movies or playing Mortal Kombat. You just get desensitized to it after a while.” – Brian M., 38, Ohio


5. Not All Arguments Need to Be Won

“I wish I knew how to pick my battles. For some reason — I say some reason, but really it was crappy parenting blogs and friends with kids — I thought I had to ‘win’ every argument with my daughter when she was young. I felt like it was necessary to establish myself as an authority figure. I had to be my own iron regime, or my kid would start taking advantage of my weakness, exposing my flaws, blah, blah, blah. The truth is, it absolutely did not matter if she ate all of her vegetables or stayed up an extra 20 minutes. In fact, lightening up and not arguing with her about every little thing probably would’ve saved me a few wrinkles.” – Brian R., 38, Ohio


6. It’s Okay to Ask For Help

“I wish I’d asked for more help. Not just to lighten the load of raising a child, but because I was surrounded by people who knew what they were talking about. I was so determined to, like, forge my own path that I think I put a lot of pressure on myself — and probably my wife — that I really didn’t need to. There were people around us who loved us and wanted to help, and we did let them, but I definitely could’ve been more flexible, I think.” – Adam, 44, Georgia


7. Your Bed Is No Longer Yours

“I wish I knew that our bed — mine and my wife’s — wouldn’t be ours anymore. As soon as our son was old enough to start running away from nightmares and monsters in the closet, he was in our bed just about every night. I can’t really complain, though. Those memories — just lying there with him and my wife, rubbing his head while he fell back to sleep — still melt my heart.” – Jordan, 35, Florida


8. Screen Time Isn’t As Evil As It’s Made Out to Be

“I wish I knew how full of shit baby boomers are when it comes to technology. ‘Oh, your kid is always in front of that screen! He should be outside playing with his friends!’ Why can’t it be both? In fact, why can’t one help the other? My son’s hand-eye coordination is probably better because of all the apps and games he loved playing on our iPad when he was little. And when he goes outside to play, he finds bugs, plants, wildlife – all sorts of things that he wants to learn about. And guess what? Now he knows where and how to look them up. There is a balance between Angry Birds – that’s what he played when he was little – and tapping a metal hoop down the street with a stick, old farts.” – Allan, 37, California


9. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

“I wish I knew it was okay to drop a baby. Now, let me clarify: it’s not good to drop a baby. But, despite what your first-timer parent fears will tell you, it’s not the end of the world if your baby rolls off the couch, falls off your lap, or even just gets a cut or bruise. As soon as your first kid is born, the absolute worst case scenario is anything having to do with that baby being harmed. If you even come exponentially close to something like that, you’re beating yourself up for weeks. Maybe months. Don’t. There’s a chance it won’t happen. But there’s also a chance it will. And, if it does, it’s important to remember that, if it were something you could’ve prevented, you would have. And, for the record, when they get older, kids love hearing the stories. Especially if they happened to siblings.” – Rudy, 41, Ohio


10. There’s A Lot of Nonsense to Keep Track Of

“I wish I knew how much there would be to remember about kid culture. When your kid starts getting into stuff — like how we got into Transformers, Ninja Turtles, etc. — it just becomes this flood of ridiculous names, and logos, and noises, and songs, and toys in which you can never, ever get sure footing. You have to know the difference between Shopkins, Hatchimals, Fingerlings…these are all real things. That brain we used to have for remembering comic book issues and baseball card stats? It’s gone. You’re lucky if you can get part of it back. It’ll help in a big way.” – Al, 44, Pennsylvania


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How I Stopped Being an Angry Dad

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, August 04, 2020

How I Stopped Being an Angry Dad

I used to be angry. It took me a long time to admit and even a longer time to improve, but I've finally arrived at a better place.

By David Willans Jul 15 2020, 2:51 PM



I used to be an angry dad. I remember the moment I realized it, feeling as though I’d slapped myself in the face. It was a cold morning, but I was sweating through my work clothes, carrying three bags, stomping along after my children on their scooters. In my rush to get out of the house and to school and work, I got angry.

Not just raised voices, but really angry. I lost control of myself, physically manhandling them into their coats and shoes, picking them up and putting them outside the front door. Later, I remember the deep feeling of shame, guilt, and regret. My only saving grace was that nothing really bad actually happened, but it could have. I wasn’t in control.

I’m an angry dad, I thought. Something I never wanted to be. I needed to fix it fast. That was five years ago. Since then I’ve worked very hard to become patient and understand what it means to be a good dad. I’ve learned about child development, what happens in our brains and bodies when we get angry, and how to create the space between emotional reactions and real-world actions. There are some important takeaways.


When we get angry, two things happen. We focus on ourselves and the moment — how they’ve made us feel, how much we’re trying — and we assume malicious intent.I’ve realized that kids aren’t really trying to wind you up. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
The trigger for their action is either:

Something physical. They’re tired, hungry, thirsty or need the bathroom.


Something emotional. Friendship problems or not getting enough of your attention, because a sibling, work or something else is getting more of it. Remember: You are one of the few people they love and depend on more than anyone else in the world.


Something evolutionary. They’re growing, their job is to learn about the world. The only way to do that properly is to try new things and see what happens. While the unintended consequence of their action might be your angry reaction, it wasn’t the motive.

Often when we get angry, we separate ourselves from the people around us. We say ‘Just give me some space’, or ‘I can’t deal with you right now’. We need this space to get back in control, but we need to create it in a way that our children know we will come back to them.

Our children need our love and attention. When we get angry at them, we attribute blame to them. This leaves them feeling regretful, sad, and, at worst, ashamed. These are heavy emotions for a child to be left alone to deal with, especially a little one.


And try to give yourself some grace. It takes some maturity to think back over a situation, realize what went wrong, admit your role in it, and tell yourself you can do better next time. It’s much easier to accept the story that you’re a bad person. When I learned this was the impact of my anger, I felt ashamed, but I used that feeling to help me change.

We’re going too fast. Emails, WhatsApp messages, deadlines and to-do lists rule adult life. There’s always more to do and get done faster. Children move at a different pace. They’re learning how the world works and how to get what they need and want in it. That’s a big job.

They’re learning to emotionally self-regulate, to start and grow healthy relationships, they’re learning self-respect, perseverance, resilience and they’re learning about themselves. This is hard work. It takes time. We’ve forgotten how hard and how long it takes because it’s mostly, automatic for us now.

When we put our expectations ahead of what our children are developmentally capable of, we create a gap that gets filled with our impatience, frustration, anger, blame, and their shame, because they haven’t met our expectations. When we expect a 2-year-old not to act like a 2-year-old, the fault is ours. We may as well get cross because the moon doesn’t glow green. You overcome this by learning where to accurately set your expectations.

I had an opportunity to put these lessons to practice recently. I only left the room for a few minutes, when I did, my two boys, aged 10 and 8, were reading quietly. When I returned, one had the other pinned to the floor with his forearm. I reacted calmly, something that hasn’t come naturally to me over the years, but something I’ve worked very hard to change.


I walked in, told one to get off the other, then lifted him off. I knew I needed to separate them before we could come to any sort of resolution. But the son I’d picked up saw my physicality as an injustice. We’re being very careful to teach our children to respect other people’s bodies and physical space. I’d seen the need to physically intervene as perfectly valid, to end the suffering of the one on the floor, but the son I’d picked up saw it as an act of aggression towards him and stormed off.

Upon reflection, I realized I was in the wrong. Every behavior is really an act of communication that’s louder than words. Despite the fact that I believed my actions to be justified in the name of my son’s safety, to my son they were unforgivable – an infringement on his personal space and autonomy, despite it being exactly what he inflicted on his brother.


I know from my work in behavior change that getting someone to behave differently means meeting them where they are. With children, this means acknowledging their point of view and feelings. Not validating, but acknowledging how they felt and why they did what they did. There’s a subtle difference, but an important one.

After checking the one on the floor was fine, I got his version of events. “I asked him to give me my book back, when he didn’t, I went over and grabbed it. Then he pushed me over and sat on top of me because I wouldn’t let go of the book,” he said.


Then I turned my attention to the one who had stormed off. I had given him, and myself, a bit of time to cool down, which is crucial, few things escalate quicker than two opposing points of view mixed with a temper. I went and spoke to him, getting down on his level, so I could look him in the eye. This always helps me get into a calmer, more empathetic role, because it reminds me of how grown up I am in comparison. I apologized for my actions first off, acknowledging his feelings so he knew I understood him. That feelings bit is a critical step because it helps rebuild, or build a relationship.


I explained why my physically removing him was wrong, and I gave the reasons for my actions. He listened quietly, no talking back or exchanging cross words. This doesn’t always happen. Then I asked him to apologize to his brother, and once he’d had a bit more space, he did. I set a natural consequence, of no borrowing of brother’s books for today. It wasn’t a big thing, but did make logical sense — if you can’t be sensible with your brother’s stuff, you don’t even get to ask for any of it. His brother would have probably set this boundary himself, but by me doing it, the chances of repeat problems were reduced on a day when the last thing I wanted was to do more than mess around with my kids.

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What Makes Men Successful? Resiliency in Both Failure and Success.

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What Makes Men Successful?
Resiliency in Both Failure and Success.

Money is good. Sex is good. Power is good. But nothing lasts without resilience.



Thanks to the charismatic sociopathy of the fictionalized Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street and his ward Bobby Axelrod on Billions, the high-performing asshole became the most popular figure in pop culture while also becoming, courtesy of disgusting performances by Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, and Eric Greitens, the most reviled figure in public life. Celebrated on film and castigated on Twitter, immoral climbers inspire hero worship and hatred, while sharing a unique appeal. They put achievement first — above health, happiness, and social connection — and, in so doing, they exhibit a sort of unsustainable masculinity many men aspire to despite its extraordinary costs.


“Men are socialized to be achievement-oriented, and it’s well documented that rigidly internalizing that socialization can lead to men who have some pretty serious struggles with work and family balance,” explains psychologist Ryon McDermott who co-authored the recently published APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men. McDermott notes that characters like Don Draper, Belfort, and President Trump, who has actively rewritten his own story, have more in common than their ruthless pursuit of achievement. “They are able to get money and success, but engage in some very risky behaviors and ultimately experience psychological distress and social isolation.”

And, yes, art imitates life. McDermott’s research has led him to believe that achievement-orientation can sometimes put men at extraordinary psychological risk. Chasing achievement, he says, is similar to being aggressive for some men: It is a traditionally masculine behavior that isolates and antagonizes when taken to an extreme.


This is particularly difficult to accept because achievement is not a bad thing. Specifically, it’s great for kids. Children who perform better in school, sports, and other extracurriculars are generally set up for healthy physical, psychological, and social development. The problem occurs when kids begin to equate achievement and self-worth — something particularly common in boys. At that point, both achievement and lack of achievement become destabilizing because success is implicitly understood to not be sustainable and failure is absolute. There is a reason that words like loser, deadbeat, and burnout are, gendered. In America, men have both more opportunities to succeed and the opportunity to fail in a way that permanently defines them.


“My hunch is that nine out of ten times when those terms are used it is aimed at men,” says Matt Englar-Carlson, co-director of the Center for Boys and Men at California State University and co-author of the APA guidelines.


Although masculinity is often misunderstood to be a constellation of manly traits, psychologists believe it is actually a sort of status that can be constantly earned, challenged, policed, and taken away. Because of this, masculinity is inherently precarious in a way femininity, which is more biologically and physically defined, is not. And achievement is one way boys internalize this early in their development. This can look a lot like male privilege. Parents are two and a half times more likely to ask Google if their son is gifted than if their daughter is and tend to invest more money in boys’ college educations as well. This teaches sons to value themselves — maybe a little too much — but it also drives home the idea that worth is tied up in accomplishment, which leads to disaster when accomplishments become scarce. Think of the high school quarterback and homecoming king who refuses to move on. More than one stereotype has emerged from truth.


“For some men — especially those who rigidly focus on achievement as their indicator of worth- what was once something positive in childhood can become a straightjacket as an adult,” Matt Englar-Carlson says.


It’s not just that achievement gives boys a place to fall from, but that other aspects of masculinity rob them of tools to get back up. Of course women fail and of course they are judged for it, and of course they tie achievement to self-esteem. The difference is girls learn from an early age how to express themselves and seek support. And their need for support — a universal human need — is not treated as a failure unto itself. Boys are taught that they’re even more inadequate after failing if they express shame or regret — unless it’s in the form of anger or aggression. Men bottle it up and suffer psychologically, which reinforces a negative feedback loop.


Psychologists at the APA are not the only ones who are concerned about men’s inability to fail gracefully. Psychotherapist Richard Loebl, who was not involved in the recent guidelines, sees this play out in his clinical practice regularly.


“Women know how to express their feelings and they feel revived by the nurturing they receive. When adult men are nurtured they often feel ashamed,” Loebl says.

Men are far more likely to internalize than process the emotions that follow failure, and the physical and mental health consequences of this are well-documented. Unemployment increases men’s risk for substance abuse, divorce, aggression, depression, and suicide. For some men, the loss of a job takes a bigger toll on mental and physical health than the death of a spouse. And the more men believe in traditional masculinity norms, the more likely to respond to romantic rejection with anger, aggression, and violence. Violence in societies with high unemployment is often horrific.


“Failure is about shame. We didn’t just get a B or C on the test. It’s much worse than an account that didn’t pan out. And rejection by a woman is nearly fatal to a man’s ego, which is all too fragile due to relentless and unreasonable performance demands,” Loebl adds. “Messages from our fathers and from society in general tell us that we must score points, make a lot of money, get the right girl, and win against the other guy.”


The most telling example might be this: Data shows that men who fail to get their partners pregnant are more prone to committing acts of domestic violence.


There have been some shifts in recent decades to how achievement is gendered, most have short-changed boys. Since the 1950’s, boys have been falling behind in school compared to girls. They currently account for a majority of D’s and F’s in most schools as well as the majority of disciplinary cases. They are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities, more likely to be medicated, and represent 80 percent of high school dropouts. Many studies suggest that the reason boys are falling behind is not because boys are less intelligent or capable, but because the education system plays more to girls’ strengths biologically — namely their ability to sit still and concentrate — while providing antsy young men with too many opportunities to define themselves through failure. This has already begun to gender academic success, which no longer seems to constitute a masculine achievement. Perverse incentives proliferate.


“The social costs associated with engaging in academics, which has become coded as feminine, coupled with men’s socialization to not appear feminine is greater than the perceived short-term social benefits,” explains psychologist Christopher Liang, who also co-author the APA guidelines.

In other words, men’s willingness to be defined by achievement can turn genuine achievement into an identity crisis at speed.

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HOW THIS BLACK MAN IS CHANGING THE NARRATIVE OF FATHERHOOD ONE POSITIVE IMAGE AT A TIME

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Friday, June 26, 2020

How This Black Man Is Changing The Narrative Of Fatherhood One Positive Image At A Time

SEAN WILLIAMS AND HIS DAD GANG ARE SHINING A LIGHT ON LOVING BLACK FATHERS.

You’ve heard them all before, endless jokes and memes about absentee fathers, women with daddy issues, and men whose involvement with their kids don’t go past that one night of passion that created them. But for this Black man, these jokes are far from funny, especially not when it comes to his definition of fatherhood.

For Brooklynite Sean Williams, fatherhood is a job that he takes very seriously. With three beautiful children of his own, Williams finds pride in being hands-on and heavily involved in his children’s lives. Yet, he once struggled to escape the overwhelming narrative that Black fathers are non-existent dudes who breed and dash aka impregnate and vanish. After weeks of strolling his daughter around his predominantly white Long Island neighborhood, William noticed that he was constantly being congratulated by random people who was glad he “stuck around” and didn’t “split” on his children. After one too many unsolicited comments, Williams decided enough was enough and The Dad Gang was born.

The Dad Gang is a movement with a mission to change the narrative of Black fatherhood one positive image at a time. With over 36,000 followers on Instagram alone, Williams and his ‘gang’ have encouraged and supported men across the country to be “better” fathers and redefine their individual definitions of fatherhood. ESSENCE recently caught up with the Head-Dad-In-Charge to talk about changing the game, being #dadgoals, and learn why for The Dad Gang and their children, the sky’s the limit.

What is The Dad Gang and what led you to start it?

Sean Williams: The Dad Gang started as an Instagram page focused exclusively on reflecting positive images of active Black dads, in an effort to shatter the negative stereotypes that have shadowed Black fathers for years and still affects us today. When my youngest daughter was about 15 months old, I worked from home five days a week, so I spent a lot of time with her running my daily errands and living my best dad life. I also live in a predominately white suburban neighborhood, so while on our daddy-daughter errand runs, I was met with two reactions from strangers: either complete shock and awe at the ease and attentiveness I had while handling my baby or a barrage of “wow, good job dad” compliments.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

It was cool at first until I realized this happened everywhere we went without fail. I felt like these people had seen a unicorn. You could almost hear necks breaking as we practiced naming all of the fruits in the produce aisle. But the compliment that broke the daddy camel’s back came from an elderly white woman who stopped us and began by saying she was so disgusted with the way that cops treated “my people” (I wish she would’ve stopped right there), then she went on to say that she was also “glad to see that I stuck around for my baby because most Black men would’ve split. *insert jaw drop here.*

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

“Excuse me, ma’am?” I’m pretty sure my daughter felt the heat rising off my body. The woman looked confused, not realizing that what she said was the furthest from a compliment. At that moment I realized that a lot of people still bought into the whole Black dads are deadbeats nonsense. A lot of these people that hurled compliments at me left and right had still never seen a young Black dad like myself loving and living my best dad life. So instead of getting upset, I created The Dad Gang page that night. It has since evolved into a conscious social community of dads on a mission to change the way the world views Black fatherhood by getting together, capturing real dad moments, sharing useful parenting tips and hosting fun, socially impactful events centered around celebrating active dads and their children.

What’s the biggest misconception about Black fathers

The biggest misconception about Black fathers is that most of us are inactive and uninterested in raising our children, or just straight up deadbeat dads. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. In 2013 the CDC did a study that revealed Black fathers were actually the most active fathers of all ethnic groups.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

What are some standout memories from your childhood with your father?

Definitely giving my father a back massage, as a kid, by walking all over his back, which is something that I do with my kids now. I also remember my sister and I hanging from his arms as he spun us like a helicopter.

What are some differences you’ve noticed between the older and younger generations when it comes to fatherhood?

Since becoming a dad and observing the way my friends and I are raising our children, I’ve noticed that our generation does not hesitate to educate ourselves and break away from our family’s traditional way of doing something if the new information obtained, whether via social media or by asking google (we’ve all done it), proves to be more effective or beneficial for the child and parent.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

Gone are the days when the reason for doing something when it pertains to raising our kids can be justified by saying “Well that’s the way my dad did it and his dad did it, so that’s how I’m going to do it.” Sure, they may say that we’re “letting the internet raise our children,” but it definitely beats some of their pre-historic ways of doing simple things.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

What does being a Black father mean to you?

I’ve always thought that the phrase having a chip on your shoulder was a bad thing until I looked at it thru the lens of Black fatherhood. Due to this negative stereotype that has haunted Black dads for generations, the Black fathers of today have something to prove. Many of us are parenting with a huge chip on our shoulder, whether it be from a negative relationship with our own dad or from mainstream media constantly depicting Black men as unfit fathers. So that chip on my shoulder that only a Black father can have, actually makes me a better dad. That’s what being a Black father means to me.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

What legacy/memories do you want to leave for your children?

Aside from being financially sound, I want my children to understand the value of building strong relationships. I want them to remember the effort I put into cultivating an individual bond with each of them like my mother did for my sisters and me.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

How does The Dad Gang go about inspiring absentee fathers to get more involved with their children?

I truly believe that a major part of an absentee father’s problem is that he hasn’t bonded with his child. It’s easy to be selfish or absent when there isn’t a strong bond to hold on to, and for some, these bonds are difficult to create. They don’t just happen out of thin air or share obligation.

PHOTO CREDIT: KEVIN JEAN-JACQUES

To try and get absentee dads to be more involved, we try to share a lot of content that specifically highlights the relationships that other dads were able to create with their kids and show how over time they’ve grown into the best friends you’ll ever have when these relationships are properly cultivated. We also repost captions where dads describe how their kids make them feel. Words are powerful. Last but not least, most of our events are heavily focused on father and child participation, like our “Dope Dads Karaoke Brunch” where we urged dads to do duets with their kids for prizes, which is one of the most incredible things you’ll ever see, and by far the most fun you’ll ever have with your kids at the brunch table.

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About DFFC

The Delaware Fatherhood & Family Coalition is an extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative created specifically to give a voice to fathers and the importance of their involvement for the well-being of their children.


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