Here at the end of Domestic Violence Awareness month for 2011, it’s a good time to reflect on ways in which responsible fatherhood programs can help fathers change attitudes and behavior in their families and communities. Four of the 33 webinars provided by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse for federal fatherhood grantees have focused on ways to address domestic violence as a part of fatherhood work. Most recently Tony Porter from 'A Call to Men' and Crispin Clarke from Nonviolence Works discussed ways to encourage dads to be good role models and to “take the conversation to the community.”
President Obama said in October 2010, “Ending domestic violence requires a collaborative effort involving every part of our society.” I believe that fatherhood practitioners and fathers can be a part of such a collaborative effort. Local fatherhood programs have a unique opportunity to raise awareness, help dads avoid violent and controlling behavior, encourage them to be positive role models, and show them how to engage other men in the conversation. That also means staff of fatherhood programs have to be good role models for the dads they work with.
A responsible father treats the mother of his children with respect at all times and maintains a positive parenting relationship with her, irrespective of their romantic or living arrangements. More than anything he must be a positive role model for his kids. And if he’s not, it’s the responsibility of an effective fatherhood program to point that out, challenge him to do better, and make appropriate referrals when necessary. It’s valuable for a fatherhood program to develop a strong partnership with local domestic violence programs and ensure that staff are fully trained to understand the warning signs and implications of domestic violence.
Since 1988, Nigel Vann has managed various fatherhood programs, provided a wide range of assistance to numerous organizations, been involved in four national fatherhood demonstration projects, and worked with several international fatherhood initiatives.