At NFI we recieve many questions asking how organizations can better reach and help the fathers going through our fatherhood programs they run. The following are three popular - but tough - questions that are important to wrestle with as individuals and organizations seek to provide greater support to fathers and their respective families.
How do we reach dads that are not interested in being involved in their children's lives?
This is a question that we receive often. It’s important to acknowledge on the front end that despite our best efforts, some dads will be very challenging to reach. While many dads have a strong interest in their children, some fathers are apathetic towards their role. The key in reaching these fathers is to not write them off, but to always make them feel welcome and to try to understand why they feel that way. Also, discern whether someone else is in a better position to speak to them about the importance of their role. Do not feel like you have to carry the burden alone. And remember, it’s important not to divert too much time and energy away from the dads that are ready and willing to increase and improve their involvement with their children. In an effort to connect with the hard to reach dads, we don’t want to lose sight of the ones that are showing an interest in their children.
For more suggestions on Recruiting and Retaining Fathers, contact NFI’s Program Support Team.
How can I help a father who is having significant issues with the mother of his children?
This too is a great question. There are several principles to keep in mind here. First, it’s important to start small. The common principle in paying off credit card debt is to pay off the smallest debt first and then work towards the larger debts. The same principle applies to relationships. Remember to first focus on the issues that you have the best chance of resolving. Once you see success in those areas, mutual respect and confidence in the relationship will grow. Then it becomes more likely that you’ll see success with the more significant and complex issues. But, remember to coach the dads to focus on what they have contributed to the conflict, rather than on what “she” needs to do differently. By taking greater ownership of the situation, dads will be putting themselves in the best possible position to reconcile with the mother of their children.
What advice can I give a non-residential father who is trying to communicate with his children, but is not hearing anything back?
This is indeed a tough scenario. First, it’s important for dads to separate their efforts from the results. Certainly, the goal of communication is for it to be a two way street. But in some cases, letters and phone calls (and other means of communication) will go unanswered. The reasons why are as complex as the relationships themselves. But here’s what dads need to remember: the more sincere and consistent communication you have with your children, the more likely you will eventually see results. This may take days, months, and even years. It will be critical for dads to have a resolve to stay consistent in their communication efforts, even if they never hear back. That will give dads the peace knowing that they did what they could to move beyond the past and heal their relationship. NFI has heard many stories of reconciliation taking place after countless years of separation and silence. You too can see that result! Remember, two keys to reconciliation are owning what you did wrong and forgiving the other person for their mistakes.
Want to help fathers connect with their children? Download NFI's "The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child"