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Preparing Teens for Fatherhood with Boyz2Dads

The following is a guest post by Shawn O'Keefe, Youth Programs Specialist for Newport News Department of Human Services. If you would like to guest blog for us, email here.

As a Youth Program Specialist, it is my job to provide prevention, education, leadership, and youth development programming and opportunities to young people in the middle and high school age range.boyz2dads blog pic

One of the curricula I researched was the Boyz2Dads™ program, which I have been using now for the last three years. I like the Boyz2Dads™ program for many reasons:

  • It has a pregnancy prevention component focused on young boys instead of girls
  • It is computer based
  • It allows for discussion about the roles/responsibilities of fathers, as well as the characteristics that make good fathers

I have had the opportunity to implement the program several different ways and in various venues. I have facilitated the program in a high school, at a Boys and Girls Club, a middle school summer enrichment program, and inside the city’s Juvenile Detention Facility. Through trial and error, I have found that the best practices for the most effective implementation of Boyz2Dads is for the group to be limited to no more than 10-15 participants; individual access to a computer; headphones for each participant; and scheduling the program in six 45 minute to one hour sessions once per week.

Interestingly, I have had the most success with the young men in the city’s Juvenile Detention Facility, which was really a big surprise. I thought of any of the young men I was working with that this group would think the program was “whack” or “corny” or just a waste of time. I have found quite the opposite. These young men don’t want to wait for me to come back the following week to complete the next level-they want to complete all six levels that day! They say, “The graphics aren’t as good as the Playstation or XBOX games, but the levels are interesting” and they love the discussion afterwards. That’s right…a group of 10-15 teen boys that I sometimes have a hard time getting to shut up!

As a single father of two sons, it is a joy for me to see these young men I work with start to redefine what it means to be a dad and a man.  You hear them say things such as, “When I’m a dad, I’m gonna make sure my kids know I love them,” or, “I used to think it was gay for a man to kiss another man, but if you really love your dad or son, there’s nothing wrong with kissing them,” and, “My kids might not get everything they want, but I’m going to be there for them and spend time with them.” 

One of our funding sources was impressed with the work I was doing with the young men and the Boyz2Dads program. He had been reading my reports and wanted to know exactly how and what I was doing. After speaking to my Supervisor and her telling him that I have impacted 170 young men who have all shown an increase in the knowledge of the impact fathers have on their children and families and what characteristics make a good father, he asked, “How would you like some more money so you can offer some more fatherhood programs?” 

WHAT!??! More money to make more of an impact!? You know we said, "YES"!

Photo credit here.

Dad Games Week 3 Recap: Affirming Your Kids

Today marks the last day of Week 3: Gold Medal Dads…Affirm Their Kids. With week three of The Dad Games closing tonight and week four starting tomorrow, we look back over a great week and see what other dads are saying about the week three of the Dad Games challenge.

This week was vital to families, because an important part of being a Gold Medal Dad is affirming your child and showing affection. Showing affection and expressing praise may or may not come naturally to you as a dad, but it's important for your child to experience your love in visible, tangible ways. How you show love as a dad plays a big role in shaping a child's self-confidence and attitude.

Dad Games affirm

This past week, we challenged dads to seven activities:
1) Hug your kids every day: Hugs build bonds and fosters a sense of security and comfort.
2) Say "I love you:" Your kids know you love them; but hearing the words matters.
3) Compliment your kids.
4) Ask your kids for one way you can improve as a dad.
5) Say "thanks" as often as you can.
6) Make coming home a big deal.
7) Surprise them; do something nice or give them a treat.

We challenged you to intentionally affirm your kids this week and you delivered. You shared stories and connected with your kids in an impactful way this week. We hope you enjoyed this week and were challenged as you connected with your kids using our checklist. As we close week two, let’s look back over the highlights from other dads just like you.

Let these dads encourage you to get involved with The Dad Games. There’s only two weeks left! More importantly, be inspired to spend intentional time with you kids and family. Below are highlights from week three:

What Gold Medal Dads Are Saying About Affirming Their Kids
“Tell your kids several times a day how much you love them. Show your love for them. Be respectful to their mother.” –Ian Miller

“Didn't have to be in court till 1:30 other day so took kids 2 playground in morning-many women asked if I was sick or unemployed #dadgames12” -- @GeekDad248

“Cheer practice now. Can't imagine 5yr olds learning 50 cheers. We shall see what happens. Good luck to coaches #DadGames12.”--Chris Delgado @CDel58

“I hug my daughter daily. #DadGames12” –Brian Tooley @BrianTooley1

“I must say AWESOME a lot to my son because lately whenever he likes something he says "awesome" #DadGames12 – @GeekDad248

“Taking daughter to see the movie she has wanted to see all summer-Diary of a Wimpy Kid. She thinks we have errands tomorrow but NO! #DadGames12” – Brian Tooley @BrianTooley1

“I knew my dad loved me from how he treated me but he never said the words - I make effort say "love you" to my kids #dadgames12” -- @GeekDad248

“Even though parents divorced, Dad never said bad word about my mother #Dadgames12” – Jon Wilke @Jon_Wilke

Go Team Dad!
 Week 3 may be coming to a close but you can join us for Week 4!

Stay tuned for more information as we challenge you to be a Gold Medal Dad by Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities!

Question: What did you do this week to show your kid(s) you loved them?

Don’t forget to sign up for our Dad Email to get the weekly checklist.

Dad Games 12Visit The Dad Games of 2012 for tips on connecting with your family. 

Share and connect with other dads on the blog, Facebook and Twitter (#DadGames12).




photo credit: hlkljgk

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

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