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The Importance of Fathers Being Present

April 4, 2016 by Alan-Michael Graves

As a single father of three boys—two young adults and a one-year old!--I always wished I could have participated in a program like Project Fatherhood.  When my first two boys were younger, I had a philosophy that my main role was to make money and provide for my boys financially so that they would have everything they needed.  What I now realize, though, is that focusing so much on work meant that I neglected to give them what they really needed:  ME!  My time…my emotional support…my presence.

As the Director of Project Fatherhood, it is my job to make sure that we always keep the focus on the CHILDREN.  Although we run Fatherhood programs, all of our planning, programs, and services are centered on the needs of the children of the fathers.  Many of the fathers we serve struggle financially and feel that since they can’t be the type of provider that they think they should be, that they don’t have much to offer to their children.   At Project Fatherhood, we help fathers come to the very same realization I have come to as a dad:  children, more than anything, just need their dad to be there.  By partnering with GOOD+ Foundation, we empower the dads in our programs to also provide the essential items—cribs, car seats, strollers, diapers—that their children need to be happy and healthy. 

A lot of the fathers we work with don’t have full custody of their children.  They have weekend visits or shared custody with the mother.  Early on, we determined that it was necessary to provide resources to the fathers so that when their children visited them, they had some of the same necessities at dad’s house as they had at mom’s house.  We know this increases a child’s interest in visiting both parents.  We have also found that when dads bring items for their children – such as diapers, clothing or a stroller – to the child’s mother, this can often open the door for greater access to their child.

One story that has stayed with me is about a father who lost custody of his child because he couldn’t provide enough diapers to keep her dry. His daycare provider reported him to child services.  Now this dad loved his child just as any parent does.  However, he just couldn’t keep up with the relentless diaper need.  Together with GOOD+ Foundation diaper donations, our program helped this father to get his child back, to enroll her in high-quality child care, to learn how to be an incredible dad to her as she grows, AND is providing him with the tools he will need to help his family achieve greater long-term economic security.

When you look back on your role as a parent, it’s the little things that you relish, small moments, experiences—bowling together, a movie night at home, a camping trip with a Boy Scout troop, or even just a great talk while driving to school in the morning.  When a dad is truly present in his child’s life, both he and the child will get to experience the joy of these special and every day moments.  Together with GOOD+ Foundation, we want to provide as many children as we can with the gift of their dad’s presence.

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