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dads rock: nurturing father engagement

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Dads Rock

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[Text on screen] Children's Bureau presents... A Building Community, Building Hope film.

Dads Rock: Nurturing Father Engagement.

Father Support Group Leaders

Fathers Group Professionals

I think I do this work because I’m trying to help fathers have the family that I wanted to have growing up. My father was a very abusive man so I grew up with a lot of pain and a lot of anguish.  I went through years of drug addiction.

I found myself getting into a lot of violent activities.

I got arrested, I was in all kinds of trouble.

The way my father interacts with my son is amazing; it’s like he’s doing everything I wish he had done with me.

My father raised me from when I was a baby and taught me a whole - he taught me a whole lot of stuff.

My dad was always present, he hugged me, he would tell me how much he loved me.

He’s the reason why I led a straight path.

Most men want to be good dads. They need these groups that we provide, sometimes to help them over a bad period and help them with some supports, and if we can get them the proper supports and encouragements we can improve their fathering.

Dads make a difference. The question is, is it gonna be positive or is it gonna be negative; so we can no longer take dads off the table and pretend they don’t exist, cause if he’s not there we know we’ve had you know, 30, 40 years of literature to show what that does, right, but and we now know if dad’s there what that does and all the positive things that can come intellectually, cognitively, behaviorally, all the research is clear when dad is present and functioning in certain ways that makes a difference so the choice for providers is what’s it gonna be.

Point well taken.

Right on.

It takes a village.

It takes a village.

All right.

Haji Shearer, Director of the Fatherhood Initiative, the Children's Trust

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that when we help one individual dad get more connected with his family we’re changing that whole community, so we need to start recruiting dads with the same passion that we recruit moms because they’re super important to kids' lives as well.

Damion Tucker, Children’s Trust Program Participant

[Singing] if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands (two claps). If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands (two claps). If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it, if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

When I’m interacting with Autumn and Imara, what I’m giving them is what they’re gonna put out into the world and I don’t take it for granted. I haven’t had a lot in my life as far as nurturing and loving and stuff like that until now. Like now I really get what love is and what it feels like to be like selfless and to care about the bigger picture versus the now.

[To daughter] your glass slipper

Haji Shearer

Helping men talk about what’s happening in their lives is enormously valuable. It’s actually healing.

Dads Group

Well thank you all so much for coming, if you could tell us your name, maybe how old your baby is.

I’m a first time dad, 33 years old, I waited, thank God.

Being a dad it takes a lot of responsibility,  being patient.

Dada and point to me [laughter] it’s so cute man.

[Off-screen] that’s the reward huh?

Yeah it’s amazing it’s been the most amazing thing that’s ever happened, it's the toughest thing I went through but it’s the most rewarding.

Haji Shearer

The typical way a man comes for help in fatherhood is that he’s kind of sinking; so when dads show up, yeah they’re often nervous and scared and worried, but it comes out as being sort of shut down and feeling angry. But in not being scared off by that, you can get underneath that heavy duty body armor and realize, yeah there's a real person in here and they could use some help.

Damion Tucker

When I saw the flier about the fathers group it described in detail that you would be learning parenting skills. I’m open to learning from other people, especially men. Now that I am open to being nurturing it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Haji Shearer

When I started to do this work it was not at all unusual for me to get a referral from the big agency that sent us all our cases and have the social worker say: don’t bother to work with dad, just work with mom and the kids. Dad’s not involved with the family. If we were denying any other cultural group the same access to services it would be a huge travesty.

Suzin Bartley, Executive Director

I don’t think it’s intentional that we don’t include dads, we’ve just not been trained or to even think about it.  We ignore them when they come in and it’s maternal and child health, we ignore them when that child is in the ER and you’ve got two parents there and that doctor is only talking to mom. Well that assumes that dad's not giving medication or dad doesn’t have questions. In school situations the same thing happens, especially in families that may not be living together.

Damion Tucker

At Autumn’s preschool you know I pretty much have been bringing her there since she started. But when there is an issue or a notice or an address to the parent, I’m never recognized. It will always be addressed to her mom. Can’t it be like Mr. and Mrs. Tucker?

Haji Shearer

If you’ve got the time to reach out to one parent we’re just suggesting it’s better for the kids to reach out to both parents. It doesn’t take that much longer to say mom and dad, to you know look at both parents. You know, whether you’re a doctor or a nurse or in some other professional capacity to just let both parents be seen and to be heard.

Children’s Trust Program Participant Mom

Hi Mike!

Mike Caban, Home Visitor

Hello, how’s it going guys?

Children’s Trust Program Participant Dad

She said that her speech isn’t exactly where they feel, you know, it should be. She’s getting there, but she’s not as bad .as we’ve thought, as we thought I should say.


We thought we were - she was like really behind.


Yeah that was one of my biggest concerns and was like, oh well she’s actually doing pretty good.

Mike Caban

So she’s hearing all these words, words that you guys use day in and day out and now she’s starting to you know feel comfortable and saying it and doing it. That’s awesome. That’s great.

Haji Shearer

I think the value in having a male home visitor going to a family’s home starts long before he goes into the home. It starts with having him as a member of a team. Most home visitors in the country are women.  So for the team to even make room for a male home visitor is profound and then when he gets there and he’s knowledgeable about parenting and the resources in the community it just makes it so much easier for the dad in this family to also be involved because here’s a male who’s role-modeling how to do this.

Mike Caban

How do you guys deal with your everyday stressors?


We give each other more value.


The way we even talk to each other is different now. You know I feel like we give each other I guess you know more of a chance in a sense I guess you could say. You know, like she’s not as hard on me and I’m not you know as like crabby to her, because you know I don’t want to lose any of this so.

Mike Caban

You guys always had the communication with each other when it came to Penelope, to understanding the value of co-parenting and parenting Penelope together. It’s a great thing

Suzin Bartley

By inviting him in and including him in the growth and development of this baby that he loves, he wants to stay attached, he wants to come, he wants to learn how to be a dad. And what we’ve found is that those couples at the end of the program are in a much more stable, healthy co-parenting relationship. This does not cost any money. Get the research. Read it. Share it with your staff. In a meeting, talk about what is the implication of what we’ve just read. Do you hire men? Do you listen and have focus groups of men and how they experience as fathers your program?

Haji Shearer

If we can have photographs of dads and babies together, if we can put up non gender-based language so that men know they’re welcome as well, because there is only a small percentage of men who are gonna know that let's say the maternal child health department in the hospital will you know, kind of welcome fathers, or that the WIC system, Women, Infant, and Children will also serve fathers. Most men will just look at that and say "it’s not for me."

Fathers Group Professionals

See we have to change some of the language as well. Why not call it Families, Infant, and Children so fathers also feel welcome, so educating these fathers that these opportunities and availabilities are now starting to come forward, systems are now starting to look at fathers in another light and how are we gonna educate both system and fathers to both feel comfortable enough to say "we’re here to help" and for fathers to say and put their pride and guard down and say "listen I’m a father and I need help."

Damion Tucker

[To daughter] I put the ointment on okay?

Haji Shearer

As a professional, if you can shift a little bit of your time and attention from mom and invest it with dad, the dividends down the road are gonna be great.

Damion Tucker

Moms are great. I love moms. Moms rock, but dads rock too. We’re pretty cool.

Suzin Bartley

You ask kids if they wished their dad had been more active in their lives and they’re gonna tell you yes, so it’s not that single moms can’t do it. It’s that we can do better if both parents are involved.

Damion Tucker

It feels for me now, when I succeed I am also nurturing the child in me that didn’t have that. I’m just happy I didn’t coward out and run from this experience because it is really changing my life in a major, major, major way.

[Text on screen] Special thanks to: The Children's Trust, Massachusetts. People, Incorporated, Fall River, Massachusetts.

For more information visit

[Administration for Children & Families logo]

[Department of Health & Human Services logo]