Back in October, I wrote a blog post titled “I Now Know I’m Important” where I cited two NFI research documents, Pop’s Culture, A National Survey of Dads’ Attitudes on Fathering, and Mama Says, A National Survey of Mothers’ Attitudes on Fathering. (These are free downloads in our wonderful Resource Library.) These surveys revealed that 53% of fathers felt they could be replaced by the mother alone, and 57% felt they could be replaced by some other male!
Even more disturbing, in the mothers’ survey, Mama Says, 55% of the moms felt that they could replace the father alone, and 66% felt the father was replaceable by some other male. That meant, to me, that more than half the population see fathers as non-essential and replaceable! But when we look at the statistics on father absence, we see something different—fathers are essential and irreplaceable!
This concept is extremely important as it underlines one of the 9 principles behind NFI’s 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® programs: positive self-worth. Our self-concept is formed by the messages and thoughts we have about our self. Self-esteem is formed by the feelings we have about our self. Together, they determine our behavior which is an expression of how we feel and think at a given moment. Not only is it important for fathers to develop self-worth, the goal of nurturing, fathering, and parenting is to create positive experiences to build a child’s self-esteem and self-concept.
Although NFI does not provide direct services to fathers, we often receive calls, emails, letters and chats from disenfranchised fathers, who are desperate to connect with their child. In other words, they possess the will, but lack the skill to overcome their circumstances. Many have reached road blocks and dead ends, whether with the courts or the mother of their child, in trying to make these connections. More often than not, they give up. Sadly, there are more of them that we never hear from. These dads are devoid of self-worth.
One of our 24/7 Dad® partners says he shows the stats on father absence to the dads he serves and says, “Here, you see what happens when you are not there? Not involved? When you’re not responsible and committed to your child? Did you know you held such value and worth?! Most dads, he says, did not know. It’s an “ah-ha moment” for them.
The other principle that is extremely important, is self-discovery. Experiential learning that leads to self-discovery is the key to learning. As dads go through 24/7 Dad® or InsideOut Dad®, they’re on a journey, a process of learning and self-discovery. Through the sessions and exercises, they get to not only reflect on their own personal journeys, but also get to “see” through the eyes of their child, and even their child’s mother. As they experience these sessions and interact with others in the groups, this self-discovery becomes a crucial ingredient for the transformation that can take place in their lives. To change the trajectory that might have been. I love this short video testimony from a dad who learned to self-discover and change the future of his relationships.
As a side note, both 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® Facilitator’s Manuals contain a Program Guide. Often when I speak to facilitators from across the country, I learn that many do not know even that part of the curriculum exists, let alone actually read through it. Many just jump into the “Session Guide” which walks them through the delivery of each of the 12 sessions. I implore them to take the time to read through the Program Guide. The primary focus of it is to help facilitators gain a good understanding of the underlying values and principles of the program (including the two I’ve discussed above), and has all the tools necessary to become a good, effective facilitator.
Thank you for helping to bring the message of self-worth and value to fathers—and mothers—across the nation. A responsible, involved, and committed father is essential to a child’s well-being. Fathers are essential!