That was a response we had from a father who attended a 24/7 Dad® program in Lauderdale, Florida.
As part of a funded expansion project, 30 organizations were provided with a 24/7 Dad® kit and training for their facilitators along with other NFI resources to engage fathers and with a particular focus to involve them in their child’s education.
At the end of the 1-year project we asked for any feedback, testimonies, and/or stories from the fathers or the organization’s staff that participated. This simple response, “I now know I am important” in particular, spoke volumes.
When I first came on board with NFI some 13 years ago in 2006, as I was ramping up on all fatherhood research, resources, etc. I read a research study in NFI’s Free Resource Library’s Research section called Pop’s Culture, A National Survey of Dads’ Attitude on Fathering and a follow up, survey called Mama Says, again a national survey of American mothers, concerning attitudes about fatherhood and the parenting performance of fathers – both those surveys revealed that more than half of the fathers and even more of the mothers felt that fathers were replaceable by the mother alone or with some other father figure!
We know that lack of pro-fathering knowledge, skills, and attitudes reduces the likelihood that fathers will be involved, responsible, and committed to their children. So, if more than half of us are living with these attitudes and assumptions, it makes more sense why we have a father absence crisis in America. It makes the father’s response noted in this blog all the more compelling as he changed the norm and learned through the sessions of the program a sense of his worth and value in relation to his child, and hopefully to the child’s mother.
So, what actually happens in a 24/7 Dad® program? A series of 12 facilitator led sessions that cover a holistic approach to fathering. Fathers participate in activities that reinforce learning objectives and help them increase the frequency of interactions with their children. I like to call it a journey of self-discovery. Fathers use a Fathering Handbook during the program and it becomes a journal they can refer to during and after the program along with developing a My 24/7 Dad® Checklist that they continue to refine through and after the program. When conducted in a group setting, the fathers also develop a camaraderie and support system.
NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program helps fathers increase:
- Habits of good fathering and father involvement.
- Pro fathering knowledge and skills, and attitudes.
- Fathers’ frequency of and healthy interaction with children
- Healthy interaction with the mother of the fathers’ children
This particular father came to see his worth and value to his child when he realized how important he actually is. He discovered he is irreplaceable!
If you are a community-based organization, healthcare, education, corrections, home visiting, or faith-based organization, you can serve the fathers in your community by equipping them with the confident knowledge of their value to their child and with the mother of their child, then equip them with the tools and skills needed to become involved, responsible, committed, and in particular…know they're important!