Engaging Fathers, Building Healthy Families: Part 2

Check out part two of Omega Tandy’s interview with a male home visitor from Healthy Families, Alan Goffinski. Click here to view part 1.

Can you share a success you have had in working with fathers?

Recently, a father that I meet with moved his family into a new home in a safer neighborhood!  This is a guy with a violent past, a history of emotionally distant relationships, unemployment, and drug use.  I’ve had the privilege linking him to community resources, working on relationship and communication skills and being a constant support as he discovers what being a man means to him.  Contrary to popular belief, men are not emotionally brain dead! They are capable of engaging their children and they are capable of forming meaningful relationships with other men.

We often discuss the parallel process between the relationships between staff and parents, and parents and their children; do you notice that same parallel process in your personal familial experiences, especially working with fathers?

Fathers father the way they were fathered.  Today’s young fathers carry the weight of the generations before them.  While a father’s desire to nurture and care for his child may be instinctive, the knowledge of how to do so is not!  Without having experienced what it means to be loved by a father, many dads are in the dark about how to love like one.  One of the most profound realizations for many fathers is that they have a choice to break the generational curse of fatherlessness and raise their child to know the love of a father.  Part of my role often involves being a positive male voice that encourages and believes in what these individuals are capable of.

Have you found any pertinent resources for fathers in Indianapolis that you use often?

There are some excellent resources in Indianapolis that Home Visitors should be linking fathers to.  Fathers and Families is a terrific resource. Kids Voice, Inc. offers legal services for fathers.  Additionally, there is a newly formed Indiana Coalition on Fatherhood (ICOF) dedicated to facilitating collaborations between agencies and provide resources for fathers.

What role does a man play in the prevention of child abuse and neglect?

A committed father makes a world of difference.  The statistics are staggering; and they speak for themselves.

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (US Dept. Of Health/Census)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. (US Dept. Of Health/Census)
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes. (Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (National Principals Association Report)

In seeking to facilitate the best possible future for the families we serve, it is absolutely crucial that we focus on the father as part of the family.  All too often, dad is an afterthought.  In reality, an invested father many be one of the most significant catalysts for safety, health, and success in the life of a child.

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