“A father’s own father is often the most powerful influence in shaping how he fathers his children”
The On My Shoulders Fatherhood Support Group serves non-custodial parents, primarily fathers, who are paying child support and have limited access to their children, formed as a result of a partnership between Center for Human Services and Stanislaus County Department of Child Support Services. The group is facilitated by Keith Amador, MFT intern and employee of Center for Human Services.
Center for Human Services is working to support and strengthen the role of fathers in their children’s lives. We have identified fatherhood involvement as an area of initiative in recognition of the important role fathers play in the welfare and development of their children.
On My Shoulders offers a safe place for learning conversations about skills, tools and strategies for becoming a more effective parent. The group uses a curriculum that teaches communication skills and is designed to let participants develop tools and strategies to empower them. An important part of the model is that no one is telling them what to do.
“This group is about building hope and connecting fathers to their children. We want them to know that they have what it takes to be a great father,” shared Keith. A father himself, Keith believes in the importance of this project and shares the belief that improving fatherhood skills will benefit society overall. “Ultimately we are working to strengthen the family unit. We want to increase fathers having involvement and emotional connection with their children, in addition to offering financial support,” said Keith.
On My Shoulders is part of the Pathways to Self Sufficiency Project, a Federal case study to evaluate the benefits of fatherhood training and how unemployment affects fathers as they struggle with child support payments. Currently only eight states are participating in the study, with Stanislaus being the only county participating in California. If the study is successful it could have implications nationwide.
The men participating in this group feel proud to be part of laying the groundwork. Joining the group isn’t mandatory for fathers participating in the Pathways to Self Sufficiency Project, but it is expected and encouraged. The group meets weekly for a series of 15 sessions. Once completed it’s possible to repeat sessions, and many fathers do, often becoming mentors to other members of the group.
Working with this group has revealed to Keith how many of these men no longer believe in their own capacity. He is working to help them believe they are more than what our culture reflects – the typical “dead-beat dad.”
“These men discover that they are capable of doing more than expected, and that feels good,” said Keith.
When asked what we should take away from this article, Keith shared, “Be careful about labeling people negatively. These men are people just like us, trying their best in difficult situations, not looking for a hand-out. We are trying to give them a hand-up, to restore hope in their ability to be a father, and help them find a job so they can support their family.”
For more information contact:
Keith Amador, LMFT
(209) 526-1440 ext. 214
Follow this project on twitter at @FatherPresence