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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.

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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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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Black Dads Need Therapy. They’re Not Getting It.

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Monday, June 15, 2020

Black Dads Need Therapy.
They’re Not Getting It.

We need to have difficult conversations.
Doing so without mental health support is nearly impossible.

By Damon Brown Jun 11 2020, 10:21 AM



Most cognitive behavioral therapists start by asking a simple question: “Where do we begin?” When you’re a black man in America, the answer is never as simple as “childhood” or “adolescence.” There is present trauma — a video of someone who looks like your cousin being asphyxiated slowly under a blue polyester blend-covered knee —  but also historical trauma. There’s what your parents told you and what their parents told them and, back further, what your emancipated great-great-grandfather imparted to his children. 

And then there’s what you tell your kids. That leaves a mark as well. The conversation,, the one about the looming threat of police violence, takes place in the painful present. It requires a level of honesty that takes time to muster. I had the conversation with my six-year-old just a few days ago, but I’d been preparing for years.

How had I prepared? I did something too few black men and far too few black fathers do. I put myself in therapy. And I’m not talking about “the gym is my therapy” or “I have therapeutic chats with my bro.”; I’m talking sit-your-ass-down, $100-an-hour therapy.  I’ve been going as needed for decades. 

While all dads probably should have an emotional sounding board, black dads need more significant support. We must work through our fears of state-sponsored violence, our experiences with institutional bias, and our own internalized attitudes about our worth in order to exist in the world with the same reassuring confidence so many of our white friends inherited from their fathers. We must learn to handle backhanded compliments about “sticking around” to raise our children and our neighbors’ fetishization of our difference (particularly in the suburbs). 

Unfortunately, only half as many black people receive mental health counseling or treatment as white people. And the number may be even lower among black men. Why? Distrust. Lack of Access. Cultural misunderstanding.

“In my family, there’s no such thing as therapy,” says Mitchell S. Jackson, author of the autobiography Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family. “I know my mom needs it. Everyone in my family has trauma. My mom’s mom died at five. I have relatives in prison. And no one I know of went to therapy.”

“There was a tacit understanding that you have to figure it out on your own to survive,” he adds.

My grandparents were born a year before the United States Health Service promised rural African-Americans free health checkups and secretly gave 600 men syphilis just to see what would happen. Four decades later, when I was born, the American Psychiatric Association was still linking schizophrenia to “aggression”, specifically African-American male rage. Known as drapetomania, it was much easier to call black men crazy than to acknowledge protests, violence and frustration being a natural reaction to systematic oppression – and to own one’s part in it.

This is our history with therapy and care, when black males can even get access.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than one out of ten African-Americans under retirement age are uninsured compared to about half that number for whites. For many black families, which boast one tenth the wealth of white families, the expenditure is simply not feasible. And even getting to the office is impractical. Looking up therapists on ZocDoc, I generate a map of blackness. Want to see where the therapists are? Look where the black people aren’t.

I started my first therapist relationship when I was 19. My parents were getting a divorce. Both grew up in the hood, but split years later as college educated, middle class yuppies. Neither had been in therapy. I don’t think anyone in my entire family tree had been in therapy. It was, like their divorce itself, a grand experiment. And I was lucky enough to see someone across from me who looked like my dad. He was my father’s age. And he was black. 

I didn’t know how lucky I was. According to the American Psychological Association, only four percent of U.S. psychologists are black. You’d have to reach out to 100 therapists and hope one of those four black psychologists was someone you actually liked.

“Do you know how hard it is to find a black therapist? I’m already skeptical, and it’s hard to find a black person, or even a person of color,” says Jackson. “As much as they are trained, if they are moving to the world as a white person, that’s a different experience.”

It is deeper when people of color get guidance from another trusted POC. My first therapist helped me on two levels: Providing guidance within the context of my culture and giving permission to be in the therapist office simply by his existence. My therapists after were not black, but my experience with him allowed me to access a level of vulnerability that allowed the later ones to truly help.

“There is the question, ‘Can I trust this person?’,” says psychotherapist Karen Carnabucci. She does her best to support black clients, she says, but understands there are limitations to understanding our culture. “Although there are many African-American therapists, more are needed.”

My wife and I didn’t have the talk with our eldest son in a therapist office. It was in our living room, strewn with LEGO blocks. Our son stared intently.  His younger brother listened in-between doing couch jumps and giving random hugs. I used all the tools from being an entrepreneurial coach: Validating his feelings, making analogies relatable to his life, and keeping my voice as level as possible. Remember your friend who isn’t your friend anymore? Because you saw him bully someone else? Same with officers, teachers, and others. Use your instinct. If you observe something funny, then it’s okay to get away or to get another adult you trust.

He nodded, and we started talking about what we were going to eat for dinner. Perhaps the biggest lesson from therapy is learning what is in my control. As blacks, we’ve been told to not make eye contact with white women, not walk in our neighborhood in a hoodie, not to gather in a group. Not to breathe. It has systematically always been on us.

Guiding my children, coaching the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs,  supporting organizations making a difference and using my power to vote are in my providence. 

But stopping black people from being murdered? It is not something I can fix alone. It is not something I can upwardly mobile away. 

It is a collective responsibility.

Perhaps the biggest lesson from therapy is learning what is in my control. As blacks, we’ve been told to not make eye contact with white women, not walk in our neighborhood in a hoodie, not to gather in a group. Not to breathe. It has systematically always been on us.

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How to Talk to Young Kids About Racism and Racial Bias

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, June 03, 2020

How to Talk to Young Kids About Racism and Racial Bias

Two specific questions can get the ball rolling for parents hesitant to talk about race.

By Patrick A. Coleman Aug 28 2017, 4:30 PM



The conversation about racial bias taking place in America right now isn’t really a conversation. It’s more of a shouting match. And there’s a reason for that: The idea of racial bias inflames long-standing social tensions and the insecurities of white people who’d prefer to believe that they’re playing on a level field. Both research and history indicate that this isn’t so. And both research and history indicate that talking to children, specifically young children, about racism and racial bias can help them better contextualize not only the news cycle – all those weird words they hear dripping from the television – but also the experience of existing in a less than perfect union.

“It is essential that all parents speak to their children about race, the importance of compassion, and empathy to truly make this world a better place for us all,” explains developmental and behavioral expert and American Academy of Pediatric fellow Dr. Eboni Hollier. “We should not pretend that racism does not exist.”


Hollier notes that efforts to protect kids from issues of racial bias does both children and their community a disservice. Children not being engaged in a conversation about race may come to believe that the subject is taboo. Silence breeds silence, inaction, indifference, and ignorance. So it’s important that parents do make the effort to talk about the differences between peoples’ experiences, acknowledging that those differences do exist and pointing out that this is all the more reason to treat everyone with respect. It’s also important that they understand the whole thing is pretty complicated and kids are likely to have some follow-up questions.

“In general, keeping the lines of communication open between parents and children is essential when discussing race,” explains Hollier.


She also notes that, even before kids are verbal, parents can communicate their views on racial bias through modeling appropriate behavior. Parents who interact with and talk about people of other races with kindness and empathy teach children behaviors that combat racial bias. Having a diverse group of friends doesn’t hurt either, though there can be regional and social barriers that make that a bigger ask (keeping friends when you’re a new parent is a big ask in and of itself). Regardless, kids pick up on what parents do, even before they are able to hold a conversation. But once they’re in school, things change significantly.


She also notes that, even before kids are verbal, parents can communicate their views on racial bias through modeling appropriate behavior. Parents who interact with and talk about people of other races with kindness and empathy teach children behaviors that combat racial bias. Having a diverse group of friends doesn’t hurt either, though there can be regional and social barriers that make that a bigger ask (keeping friends when you’re a new parent is a big ask in and of itself). Regardless, kids pick up on what parents do, even before they are able to hold a conversation. But once they’re in school, things change significantly. “This is also a time when children become more aware of ethnic stereotypes,” Hollier explains. “Children may begin to associate inferior status and superior status of groups based on race and these thoughts may come from their exposure to media or the world around them.


At this time parents may want to start addressing issues of racial bias in the news, or even out in the world, should something be observed by their kid or themselves. For parents who don’t know how to start the conversation, Hollier suggests it’s as simple as asking a questions like: “What do you think about what is happening?” and “How does that make you feel?”

It’s then a process of listening and answering questions as honestly and openly as possible. The idea is not to solve the problem of racial bias, but rather to show that it’s a conversation that can occur thoughtfully and meaningfully. Diversity trainer and community organizer Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew notes that, for some families, the conversation will be more personal and will draw on the power of life stories. “Starting from your personal experience, your narrative is the most effective,” Booker Drew explains. That might mean being honest about instances where parents have experienced or overcome racial prejudice. It might also mean being honest about bad behavior and family biases. “It’s about owning your experience or your family’s history which is also important. It’s not about sugarcoating the issue.” Booker-Drew notes that many communities don’t have the luxury of entering gently into conversations about race. Sometimes it kicks down the door, as it did with her own family.


“Our conversation started when a kid in elementary called my daughter the ‘n’ word,” she says. So the dialogue has to be deeply personal and explicit in some cases. Booker-Drew remembers her own father being explicit about what she might face as an African-American girl in the seventies and eighties. “He explained I might encounter people who make a decision about me because I was different,” she says. “He also told me that I would be missing out on something really good if I did that to others.”


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Let's Talk About Stress, Baby

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Let's Talk About Stress, Baby

written by Fatherly 


Kids aren't stupid. Nor are they obtuse. They hear you discussing COVID-19 news, they see headlines on your social media feed, and they understand that, to a large extent, the stuff they once enjoyed doing is no longer in play. Playing epidemiologist isn't going to work. Kids don't need specific answers. What they do need is broader certitude that they are loved and will be taken care of — certitude that makes the ambiguity of the moment manageable.
 
"We want to teach them how to tolerate not knowing. You should let them explain how they're feeling and why, and you can help them validate those feelings by saying things like, 'I have similar worries. Let's brainstorm ideas on how we can make things better.' Instead of just giving answers, you want to have a conversation and compare notes," says Bubrick.




 
Ask the Good Questions
 
Getting kids, regardless of age, involved in problem-solving makes them feel empowered and like they're part of the solution. But as Bubrick points it, if you ask vague questions, you'll get vague answers, including the dreaded "I'm fine" (the quintessential conversational dead end). Bubrick's advice is to lead with curiosity and ask open-ended yet specific questions. 

  • What did you learn about today?
    What is something interesting or funny you heard about today?
  • What was the most fun thing you did today?
  • What are you most looking forward to tomorrow?
  • What was the toughest part of your day today?
  • What was something you didn't like about your day?
  • What got in the way today of you having a fun day?
  • What can we do together to make it better? 

Timing is Everything

Picking the right moment to talk is crucial to having a conversation that actually goes somewhere. Bedtime is not the right time per Burbrick, because kids are starting to wind down for the day and anxious kids have more worries at night. The last thing you want to do is lead them down the path of more worry and a restless night. "And don't talk to them about this when they first wake up," he adds. "Find a time, a neutral time, when there hasn't been a big argument. Look for a calm moment."
 
So what does work? Burbrick suggests having laid-back discussions either during dinner, or while taking a family walk. And he relies on a simple yet clever approach that gets people to open up.
 
Try a Game
 
When talking with his own kids, Burbrick suggests a game called Like a Rose.  "It's an icebreaker and it's our thing," he says. "You start and model the game. There are three components to the rose. The petal: 'Tell me something you liked about today.' The thorn: 'Tell me something you didn't like.' The bud: 'Tell me something you're looking forward to in the future.'" This relies on good modeling. You have to set a good example to get a good response, so come prepared to share.
 
No Success? Try a Feelings Chart
 
If your children aren't able to articulate how they're feeling, use a feelings chart and work your way from there. Some 5-year-olds can explain, with total clarity, what upended their emotions and why. Some teens, meanwhile, can barely manage a two-word response and won't dig deeper without gentle prodding. You want to have children be as specific as possible about what exactly they're feeling.  "If you can name it, you can tame it," says Bubrick.
 
Stay Focused
 
Burbrick's final note is just as applicable to kids as to their adult minders. Don't spin out. Don't catastrophize. And remind kids that no, their friends aren't having secret sleepovers or hitting the playground. We're all stuck at home together. 
 
"We want to help kids stay in the moment. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the unknown. All we know is what's happening to us right now. We have each other. We're connected to our friends. Let's focus on that. We'll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow," he says.

Divorced Dads and Co-Parent: Respect a Child’s Love

Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Once upon a time, there was a happy family—dad, mom, and their little boy. One year, Dad and Mom gave their little boy a puppy for his fourth birthday. That little boy and his puppy became best friends, as little boys and puppies do. The puppy was involved in his whole life as a playmate and confidant. Every night the puppy slept at the foot of the little boy’s bed and helped him eat the crust of every sandwich he enjoyed. Later, the little dog waited at the door every afternoon to meet him when he got home from school. They did homework together, talked about friends at school, and cried over losses together.

Then one day, Mom and Dad decided they needed to divorce, and the family changed forever. During this frantic, frustrating time, Dad was having a particularly upsetting day, angry about Mom, the divorce, money, and other grown up things, when he walked into the living room and saw that dog with those important papers in his mouth! And not only had he torn them up, he had also left a “gift” right in the middle of the room … again.

Dad lost it, yelled at the pup, kicked it across the room, then grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. Then he turned toward the little boy, who was witnessing all of this, and said, “This dog is going away! Don’t you ever play with him again! He is a bad, bad dog! I’m calling the dog pound to pick him up right now!” Then he threw the dog out the door.

Can you imagine how that little boy felt as he saw his best friend kicked and then thrown away?

However badly that little boy was hurt by what happened with his dog, and however much he loved his constant companion, I can promise you that he loved his mother a thousand times more than his dog, and his heart was broken a thousand times worse when his father said the same things about the mama the boy loved so much.

Our children are quite literally made up of us—fathers and mothers. Deep inside every one of the trillions of cells that makes up your child is pieces of his mom and dad, in DNA, curled up together. Your child is honestly a “chip off the old block” of his two parents. You know that, but too often you probably forget.

And whether it was intentional or not, maybe you have tried to turn your child against his mother—either directly by telling him mean things about her, or indirectly by just hinting negatively about her. Maybe you have said things like, “Oh, that’s just your mom, you know how she is.” Or, “Well, I’m not surprised she did that ….” And make no mistake, these kinds of comments move you dangerously close to placing yourself between your dear, sweet child and someone he loves more than anyone else, except you.

The danger is that, when you talk trash about your child’s other parent, three things happen:

First, you break your child’s heart. Children love their mamas and daddies, even when they don’t act right or when they hurt each other. And you cannot change that.

Second, you’re damaging your relationship with your child. Even if what you are saying is gospel truth, in your child’s mind you’re like a schoolyard bully or anyone else who says something bad about his mother. His natural reaction is to defend her, prove you wrong, or just separate from you emotionally (if not physically). It’s like you’re intentionally closing down your child’s heart toward you, because you’re attacking his mama.

And third, you’re likely not bothering your ex at all. Usually a divorced dad talks bad about his ex-wife to feel like he’s getting back at her somehow, but in most cases, she quit caring about what he says a long time ago. What a waste—especially if you’re damaging your relationship with your child in the process. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.

In over two decades of working with broken families, I have never seen one parent’s attempt to turn a child against their other parent to be successful. Never. Sometimes it just breaks the child’s heart. But often it will create deep, festering scars in the relationship with the manipulative parent that may never heal.

Permit me to say that bad-mouthing your child’s mother—especially when your child can hear—is wrong, damaging, and just plain foolish.

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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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