CT Post: Featuring SJPC DADS Program

Opinion: Program shows the difference a dad can make

Rock fans listen to New Canaan School of Rock as they perform during the third annual “Battle of the Bart” at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford in 2017. Proceeds from the concert benefit the St. Joseph’s Parenting Center and the Bartlett Arboretum.nnNo one says being a dad is easy. But everyone says it’s important.

Let me throw some statistics at you. According to Urban Light Ministries, when a child’s father is involved in their lives, the child: has better, healthier relationships; has better emotional health and control; has better physical health; is less likely to become addicted to substances; is more likely to feel safe and more confident; has better odds of academic success; is more likely to stay out of trouble; and is four times less likely to live in poverty at some time in their youth.

All good reasons to be involved with your child. But for 33 percent of children in the U.S., their biological father is absent.

You may not know the best way to be a dad. It’s not your fault. You may not have had your own dad in your life, or maybe he wasn’t that good at it. Until the last couple of generations, dads weren’t expected to really be engaged with their kids. Things like thoughtful discipline, playing, teaching, answering questions — those were all mom jobs. You learn a lot of parenting on the fly, but if your own dad was good at showing you how to do things as you grew up, you have some background and knowledge that you can apply when you have a family yourself. When dad’s not there, you are missing out on someone to teach you important things.

There are other ways to get that experience. St. Joseph Parenting Center, with offices in Danbury and Stamford, offers the “Dads Are The Difference” program. It helps dads learn the skills that will help them help their kids.

We connect fathers in a safe space to share their experiences and learn about their crucial role as a father. The program consists of 21 parenting classes with topics ranging from learning healthy communications, co-parenting strategies and child development to discipline strategies, budgeting and employment readiness skills. All our services are offered in English and Spanish.

Sure, 21 classes is a lot. You don’t learn how to be a good dad in a couple of hours. And the program — which is free for all — also offers case management for each father with counseling, advocacy and connections to community resources. So you aren’t doing this alone. Your kids get a treat, too: a gift after you attend 10 and 20 classes.

If you think you could learn more about being a good dad, contact Maria Abril, SJPC case manager, at 203-273-5622 or [email protected]. You can learn more about St. Joseph Parenting Center at www.sjpcenter.org. (If you have a good handle on the whole dad thing, contact us about helping to teach the courses!) You’ll be making a difference for you and your kids.

Our next cohort is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, July 5, at 6 p.m.

Crystal Perkins is the center director for the Saint Joseph Parenting Center office in Danbury. For information, contact her at 203-273-5622 or [email protected]

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