It’s common knowledge that if a dad takes an active role during pregnancy this will lower moms’ stress levels. Especially on first-time young moms when there is so much to juggle. Lower stress means a healthier environment for your growing baby. Through research, it is shown that dads who are involved during pregnancy have a much higher chance to stay involved once their baby is born. A child with an involved father tends to do better socially, emotionally, and academically and have much better self-esteem. – https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/news/infographic-importance-father-involvement
I have served young men and fathers for more than 20 years. In that time, I have learned many things, but one lesson stands out: society “feels” and “sees” the power of a dad, or an absent father, but society seems to put limited energy, time, or resources to fight this absent father epidemic within our communities. Statistics from National Center for Fatherhood tell us that up to 33 percent of American children live without their biological father. And further, almost six out of 10 black children, three out of 10 Hispanic children, and two out of 10 white children are fatherless. What happened that caused so many fathers to walk away? What can be done to help fathers realize how critical their role is in every area of their child’s development? How do we help these fathers to realize this child will always be their child?
I have dedicated my time, passion, and resources to developing specific ways to engage these forgotten young fathers that live within the shadows of our communities. I have discovered that billions of dollars are poured into the “pot” of serving high-risk children and mothers, but only a small percentage of this is used for services that directly impact young fathers. (https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/100_BILLION_DOLLAR_MAN.PDF). While the money is not wasted on mothers and children, it’s imperative that resource materials and programs are developed to ignite young fathers to be actively engaged and emotionally connected to their child.
Having a baby is an enormous, life-changing responsibility for these young parents. Not only do they have to adapt to new life with a baby, they must also continue with the responsibilities of becoming an adult while juggling relationships, work, school, and difficult family systems. The message I most hear from these young fathers is, “Where are the resources for me?” It’s time we step up and step into the lives of these young men to serve them and their children by ensuring they are equipped to be the young fathers they desire to be.