What a Difference a DAD Makes – a parenting group just for dads that focuses on character building using six tools that focus on the use of virtues as well as emphasizing the important role a positive male figure can play in the child’s growth and future development.
Based on the FI-BOCC Program (Father Involvement – Building Our Children’s Character) this 10 week program is designed exclusively for the benefit of fathers and is focused on responsibility and the vital role fathers play as educators and mentors in the lives of their children. The program supports fathers toward a common parenting goal: developing healthy, happy, and resilient children.
Children with involved fathers develop more successfully, and to name a few are: Two times more likely to go on to post secondary education; twice as likely to find stable jobs; 75% less likely to become teenage parents themselves; and 80% less likely to spend time in jail. Fathers are introduced to six basic tools in character development:
Tool 1 – Character: The Root of Wisdom and Success – Language of Virtues
Character plays a key role in how our children grow and learn to get along with one another. Making responsible choices is the most important aspect of strong character. Children need to be guided to make choices that make a difference in their lives and in the world around them. For children to have strong character, they need to be taught certain moral principles. This tool teaches fathers how to speak the language of virtues.
Tool 2 – Positive Authority
This tool has the participants determine their parenting style and reviews how they are connected. This tool teaches the participants that if they choose to lead from fear/ violence, they lower their child’s self esteem and self concept, which results in blind obedience, rebellion and disrespect. Whereas, if they lead by building character and setting positive examples, they increase the child’s self-esteem and self-concept, which results in self-discipline, self-responsibility, cooperation, and respect
Tool 3 – Building Self Esteem
This is accomplished by teaching participants the various developmental stages that a child goes through, and what are appropriate and inappropriate expectations one can have for a child of a certain age and/or developmental stage.
Tool 4 – Deeper and More Meaningful Communication
This module references the importance of having conversations that are helpful to our children. We refer to this as companioning, a never ending cycle that leads to more trust, respect and understanding. The fathers are taught the strategy of companioning, and provided with examples of situations where they can test their skills.
Tool 5 – The HEART of Boundaries
Boundaries: show distinctions between people, are physical, emotional and intellectual, that allow for safety in all relationships, and are ground rules for behaviour. What you expect of me and what I expect of you, show how I am to be treated and how you are to be treated. EXPECTATIONS are taught through a balanced use of boundaries.
The fathers are taught the H.E.A.R.T. of Boundaries:
HONOUR – I will pay attention to you and what you say
EMPATHY – I will seek to understand your point of view
ASSERTIVENESS – I will tell you what I think is right for me
RESPECT – I will be deeply present without: advising, interrupting, rescuing, criticizing, or teasing
TRUST – I will be worthy of trust, what I hear stays with me.
The fathers learn that by using these boundaries in all of their relationships they are setting positive examples for their children.
Tool 6 – Building Character through Positive Discipline
This tool focuses on teaching the fathers to identify and define teachable moments (which can include opportunities to discipline as well as opportunities to praise); that authority should be used in the interest of the child’s learning; and that the goal of discipline is to teach, self-discipline, and the keys to purposeful discipline.
Using the example of a child who is about to throw a rock in anger at another child, the fathers are taught to use the following tools when dealing with bad behaviour: Step in and stop the behaviour, name a specific virtue, explain briefly how this is wrong, immediately give a consequence, and encourage the child to make amends.
Young men between the ages of 13 and 30 are mandated to attend this group through local community supports such as Children’s Aid, Probation, and Family Courts.
The group currently runs three times per year on Tuesday night from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in ten week session increments. The number of referrals is continuing to grow and we anticipate running four groups in 2012.
Our group facilitator David Chappelle was a young father himself, who is currently parenting two children in their late teens. In addition he is available to offer individual supportive counselling. We have seen a steady increase of involved fathers since this program’s inception in September 2008. Facilitator training is offered by Brian Russell through the Father Involvement Initiative Ontario Network.