The Father Factor

Paving the Way for Fathers to Find Their Purpose

Posted by Ave Mulhern

Most Recent Fatherhood Posts

Feb 2, 2021


In 2002, you may remember the wildly popular, best-selling book by Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Although a faith-based book, it sold millions of copies to both faith and secular audiences.

If you are not familiar, the book defines to be purpose driven is to be driven by God’s purposes, not our own. These purposes are based in New Testament verses in the book of Mathew. The premise that God has numbered your days and will fulfill every purpose He has for you. However, our choices and actions also really matter.

As defined by, “purpose” as a noun means, “the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.; an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal. Determination; resoluteness.”

Years ago, Volunteers of America created an award-winning Correctional and Re-Entry Services program for female offenders that focused on helping them transition from prison to a productive life, ideally resulting in a decreased number of women re-offending.  And, because most of these women were moms, there was great emphasis on parenting and getting custody of their kids. This became their purpose to create a productive life.

Later, the director of the project worked with NFI to create the same program for men (fathers). What she wisely recognized was that the model they used for the women was not the best approach for the men. The male inmates were asked, “What is the first priority for you after you are released?” While the moms said, “To get my kids back”, the dads responded, “To get a job.”

What had me thinking about the Purpose Driven Life book is the idea that the moms’ purpose was to be with her child(ren), to be physically present with them. The dads’ purpose was to provide for them. This illustrates the unique way each parent nurtures, and each may have a different purpose—but each role is indispensable.

At NFI, we’ve seen a recent surge of interest for fatherhood program resources that include a workforce readiness component. Funders requiring this see it as a critical component to sustaining a successful, viable fatherhood program. Many of the organizations and agencies we work with provide support and resources in workforce development, job training, resume services, interview prep, and in some cases, professional work clothing is provided. If they don’t directly provide these services, they’re able to refer fathers to such resources in the community through established partnerships.

What sets the most successful agencies apart is they recognize the importance (or purpose) for fathers to be gainfully employed, but also the importance of helping fathers establish their “inner man” purpose: his irreplaceable role as a father to his child(ren). In other words, by helping to transform the inner man, he is more clearly able to see that the purpose for his provision is more than just financial. He is to be a father AND a provider.

NFI’s evidence-based program 24/7 Dad® is an excellent resource to help fathers on that journey with the knowledge and tools to be the best father and partner they can be, and to recognize they are more than a paycheck to their child(ren).

NFI’s FatherTopics™ Collection for Non-Custodial Dads provides a great supplement to a fatherhood program such as the 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® programs, or can be used as a stand-alone workshop. It contains five separate 2-hour sessions and can be used in any combination. The Collection covers some of the most critical issues faced by non-custodial fathers.

The topics are:

  • Workforce Readiness
  • Rights & Responsibilities
  • Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Money Management

There are several other FatherTopics™ workshops that can help “boost” your fatherhood program with topics such as Understanding Domestic Violence, Talking with Mom, and a workshop for moms called Mom as Gateway.

Because I always love to add an illustration or story, there's a touching video that is part of the 24/7 Dad® curriculum and is also available  in our free Resource Library called “New Opportunities”. It contains testimonials from 3 different fathers that made some bad choices, but were transformed by the 24/7 Dad® program and discovered their purpose along the way. Choices and actions have certainly derailed many a father from his purpose.

I hope this post helps you in your important work with fathers and strengthening families. After all, isn’t that the purpose for all of us working in the fatherhood field?

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Topics: Featured, General Fatherhood Program Resources, NFI-Specific Programs & Resources

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