Male Scarcity, and the Impact of Absent Fathers on Communities

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Male Scarcity — Impact of absent fathers on communities

Male Scarcity, and the Impact of Absent Fathers on Communities:
Dads may be more involved in their children’s lives than ever, but the percentage of fathers who live with their children remains too low—and has been falling steadily for decades. Our panel of experts, academics, and sociologists has been studying the long-term ramifications of this alarming pattern; they’ll discuss the latest information and initiatives related to promoting fatherhood, and show how their findings are helping communities and organizations reverse negative trends. (Orleans)

Vince DiCaro (@vindicaro), Stacy Morrison (@bklynstacy),
Shawna Lee (@shawnajolee), Rich Tolman, Mark Trahan

Vince late to start — ‘make himself scarce’ on purpose 🙂

Introduced panel

Mark Trahan – Counsellor

StacyMorrison – blogger

Creed Anthony – high school teacher

frame of reference from vince

Fatherhood — right now it is the best of times and worst of times

Dads more involved than ever – data supports. More connected than ever.  However,  there  are record numbers of kids living in father absent homes

What is the impact on kids with no dads?  But importantly, how do we reach those dads?

Mark — What is participation in dads lives?  Do they have the confidence to reach their goals?

What is important for fathers participation?

What does it look like?  How define?

It changes over time — Culture impacts, economic status impacts…

What is participation to one person may be different to another…

If you think of mothering, that’s easy. We can picture what that looks like… what is fathering?  Tougher to define…

Inventory of father involvement – 9 Dimensions of Engagement

  1. Praise and affection
  2. Discipline and teaching responsibility
  3. School encouragement
  4. Giving support to the mother
  5. Providing resources for children
  6. Reading and homework support
  7. Time and talking together
  8. Develop kids Talents
  9. Attentiveness

How do we rank these roles in importance?

STACY – father involvement from mom angle

Big shift — mother father — families changes shift. Rise oaf female led families

Male scarcity always framed as men who never want to be involved — not true.  

She feels losing family was waytougher  than losing husband.

Family without marriage as a central part — takes work

Proud of her husband for choosing for her look after her husband

How do we create support for dads?  Its not about their choices?

Anthony — kids are kids no matter how much money. Rich/poor no matter. 

But who dad is involved or not is key

He could gauge year success by who would show up for parent teacher interviews…

Who is primary contact?  Mom and Dad?? Is dad still involved?

Do your parents read to you?  Impacts academic performance, grades, confidences..

All traces back to home.   If home not solid, big effect on how they see the world…

Do parents care about school performance?  If yes, then great things

 Audience question – What is best for kids?  Father participation?

How do we maximize father involvement?  

Most kids in father absent homes have no contact with dad… how can we change that?

Complex question says Mark

If you have flu, body gets virus, body must adapt and make changes… fever, chills,

Think of family system trying to reach a balance for survival of children.  If Tension in system — family must change to adapt

What impacts dads engagement choices?

Relationship with own father…

Dual earners in the house?

Own perceptions of other fathers – father network

All of these contributes to their choice of  how to engage, although men often take cues from spouse.

Tension makes change.  Does he engage less or more?  Many dynamics that create tensions

Men must start interacting/participating early.   More confident over times

Participation equals Location plus Motivation

Early involvement is huge

Quality relationship with mom

Is mom the gateway to father to be involved?

Can we help build confidence and skills to help dad feel good?

Let dads talk about being a dad… understand that it is a critical role

Then let dads know — “Here are the skills you need…”

Prison inside out dad program… start to talk to these guys — tears from convicts  as they learn ‘your kids still need you!’

Children need different things from dads, but all kids need affirmation from their fathers!

Cultural differences may impact but largely, all kids need the same things…

Stacy — is mom the gateway?

Larger conversation — divorce was about anger and money

Now, responsibilities needs to be the focus not money

Cannot frame divorce as punishment — cannot force dad into paying for his choices through forced dad responsibilities.

“I’m going to force you.  Punish you for turning back on me!”. Now you need to do this this and this

What does your new normal look like?  We are creating it with kids needs in mind!

Anthony — we like to label families.  good bad dysfunctional

Families bring us together on line — newer moms talking to other moms online but dads don’t!

Dads need to have those conversations as well

How do we foster that conversation between dads?

Divorce.  Not a good side and a bad side of divorce but just responsibilities to the kids..

Dad daughter nights at schools — Great for daughter but also good to see other dads interacting.  See how other dads do it! 

Need more school  based events and nights together – Win-win for everyone!

How do we teach men to be dads?

Boys don’t play with dolls…  where do dads turn for confidence and skills?

How do we reach ?

Better to look at as Prevention vs. intervention…

Prevention is best == build a culture of good dads!

Audience debate — What is responsible parent?

Is it a judgment?

Need a broad variety of different fathers…

Mark – Co parenting alliance — the amicability of a couple to coparent together. Child outcomes is tied to parents amicability

When men hide carry pain of own childhood, ‘cant be with their own child fully because you see their own pain.  Men affected by own pain

Is father absent by choice?  Men feel defeated because they want to be involved, but so blocks and hurdles absent dads have creates defeat…

Mom criticizes everything dad does

Notion that they cant, no skills, don’t deserve to be involved, but these men WANT to be involved.  Not absent by choice

Language that we create needs to be looked at also — Mom not necessarily default parent now in divorce talks!

Child needs both parents — but have unique gifts to offer…

Kid needs to still know both parents even if one is a loser — voids are painful.

Dads have questions too — want to be involved but don’t know how

Kids with married parents

Low income minority men more likely to engage than middle class Caucasian men

Debate   fathering — outcomes.  Teens engaging in social

Audience debate — Occupation — higher incomes if dad involved

Drop out of school.   Least likely to drop out of school if have married parents

Debate about same sex marriages.  How does that impact?  Better than single parent family?

How does household stress impact the development of children?

Same sex couples have barriers.  But determination to parent makes them more engaged

Discussion.  –Joan Wilson s work for Fathers penalized  in workplace if make decisions to be with sick kids

Need to reach everyone that is impacting children — stepdads, uncles, father figures

Dads movement will continue to change the landscape..

Expectations impact how dads will be engaged… what does being a dad look like???

“whew“` I’m exhausted!!    Great discussion.      Summary by Jeff Hay…(www.thedadvibe)