Guest column/Fatherhood: More than childhood memories

Her earliest memory is with her father. He carried her along a busy city street. When he stopped to enter a building, she saw their reflections in the plate glass window. The morning sun topped the building across the street and cast an aura around the young father and his little daughter with Shirley Temple curls. She wore a dress and pinafore, black patent leather shoes and lace-edged socks … and a smile. She felt safe, special, and loved by her daddy. There was a bond, a trust between them. She was happy. Both of them were happy in that moment.

That was long ago, before all of life’s experiences that had made the whole family the way they were, with all the breaks and shatters and gluing everything back together again, the struggles and work that had been required of them to keep going, one step at a time, sometimes baby steps, sometimes long leaps of faith. She had lived long enough to learn that parents do the best they know how to do.

Everyone is a product of the environment in which they grow up. And sometimes parents need help to find better parenting skills that will be best for the parents and the children they bring into the world.

According to research from the University of Texas, dads who are involved in their children’s lives have a direct impact on the children’s futures, how they think, behaviors they develop — or don’t, how they feel about themselves and how well they do in school.

The study reveals those children whose fathers are involved in their lives are 39 percent more likely to earn mostly A’s in school; 45 percent are less likely to be held back in school; 60 percent less likely to be suspended or expelled; twice as likely to go to college and find a decent job after high school; 75 percent less likely to have a teen birth and 80 percent less likely to spend any time in jail.

Dad, that makes you very important to your children. It takes a special man to be a dad, a man who is willing to step up and provide the emotional and financial support for their children, to help nurture them to grow the way they need to grow to be good parents to the next generation.

But it doesn’t just happen, does it? Dads need to understand how to properly discipline their children, effectively communicate with them (and anyone with teens knows that can be a huge challenge.) Dads teach their children how to manage stress, and skills like persistence, determination and self-discipline.

Dads provide a road map for good, healthy living, protecting their children from abuses. Dads teach their children through the ways they treat others … the children’s mother, older adults, the neighbors.

Ohio is one of six states reportedly developing policies and programs especially for dads. From these programs, fathers get support of other fathers, guidance from program facilitators, etc. They learn how better to communicate with their children and children’s mothers. And they grow in confidence as fathers.

The mission of the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood at the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is “to enhance the well being of Ohio’s children by providing opportunities for fathers to become better parents, partners, and providers.”

Family Recovery Center helps families to find ways to navigate through these challenging times. For information about the agency’s treatment and education programs, contact the center at 1010 N. Sixth St., Steubenville; by phone at (740) 283-4946; by e-mail at info@familyrecovery.org; or by visiting the website at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board.

(Brownfield is a publicist at the Family Recovery Center.)


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