Dad’s Day, Not Father’s Day

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Dad and daughter hug

We call it Father’s Day, but what we should really celebrate is Dad’s Day. Someone said, “Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.” How do you become a Dad? It’s simple. Connect with your kids.

Sure. There are plenty of surrogate male role models out there. But none can ever replace Dad. The National Fatherhood Initiative tells us that children who live absent from their biological fathers are more likely to:

  • be poor;
  • use drugs;
  • experience educational, health, emotional, and behavioral problems;
  • be victims of child abuse; and
  • engage in criminal behavior.

Here in Georgia nearly 600,000 children in Georgia live apart from their biological fathers. That’s more than one out of four.

Non-custodial fathers need to know that establishing and maintaining connections doesn’t always require that they’re physically present. But we as fathers all need to commit to being consistently accessible to our children. Today’s technology and a variety of programs and tools enable us to stay connected 24/7.

FatherWork provides stories, ideas, and activities to encourage generative fathering. Here’s one father’s story:

“I would always call and chat with them on Sunday morning. I used Sunday morning as the rates were lower, and the children were likely to be home, and rested after a good night of sleep. To call on a week night after a long and stressful day would not be relaxing time for either them or me. This pattern has continued for 22 years to the point if I don’t call on Sunday to check on their week they feel ignored.”

The Department of Labor has invested millions of dollars in a model called Transitional Jobs, which offers grants to help individuals with significant barriers to employment—specifically low-income non-custodial parents—gain the skills they need in the workplace through Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration programs. These programs help non-custodial parents become better fathers by connecting them to job opportunities and teaching them the skills they need to keep these jobs and support their families financially. The good news is there are only seven grantees in the country and one is in Atlanta.

These are only two opportunities of the countless opportunities out there to help Dads connect with their kids.

But we don’t always need a program. Keep it simple. Read a book or the comics, skip stones on a lake, play catch, text or, FaceTime—anything will do as long as you’re with your kids. Tell your kids you love them and that you’re proud of them. That’s a connection you can forge that can never be broken.