Reflection and Awareness


Reflection and Awareness

Effective fatherhood programs help fathers reflect on their life experiences and increase their awareness of the impact of these experiences on their current situation, parenting style, and relationship skills. Breakthrough moments can occur when fathers commit to being a better father, doing better than their dad, or improving their relationship with their child’s mother. Most fatherhood and relationship curricula incorporate activities that can be used to encourage such reflection and discussion.

What’s It Been Like? or Manhood Collage from The Responsible Fatherhood Curriculum: A Curriculum Developed for the Parents' Fair Share Demonstration 

Participants in these activities reflect on and discuss their past and current experiences as sons, men, and fathers. Fatherhood practitioners can use these activities to engage fathers in reflection as they guide them on a journey of self-awareness and growth as men and fathers.

This curriculum is available from MDRC.

From Fatherhood Development: A Curriculum for Young Fathers:

  • Values Voting 
    Can be used as a 20-minute icebreaker or a 40-minute program activity. Participants choose to agree or disagree with controversial statements and then defend their positions. In the full activity, participants are encouraged to explore their personal values and reflect on their position as a role model for their children. If used as an icebreaker, the statements can be adapted to encourage interaction and sharing.
  • Trust Walk 
    Can be used as a short warm-up or a longer program focused on the needs of small children. Group participants assume the role of “child” or “parent.” Those in the child role are blindfolded and led through an obstacle course by parents who are given instructions on how to interact with their child. The activity reminds participants of the feelings of dependence among children and the responsibilities facing parents. Participants are encouraged to reflect and discuss parenting techniques.
  • The Values Auction 
    In this 30‒45 minute activity, men identify the values, behaviors, and characteristics they want to nurture in their children by bidding in an “auction” of attributes that they value in children.

This curriculum is available from the National Partnership for Community Leadership (NPCL).

From The Nurturing Fathers Program:    

  • Male Nurturance 
    A two-part, 45-minute activity designed to help fathers define and identify the difference between nurturing and non-nurturing parenting practices.
  • Fathering Without Fear or Violence 
    A 45-minute series of three activities explores the difference between nurturing and non-nurturing fathering practices, helps fathers identify the intentions and outcomes of various fathering practices, and encourages men to commit to specific nurturing fathering practices that do not represent fear or violence.

This curriculum is available from The Nurturing Fathers Program.

From Quenching the Father Thirst: Developing a Dad:

  • The Mask of Masculinity versus a Real Man 
    Short activity designed to show what real manhood is not and to explore the qualities of a real man.
  • My Father Is Like A ___________ and Like Father, Like Son 
    Two short activities that challenge dads to think about their relationship with their own father and its impact on them as fathers themselves.

This curriculum is available from the National Center for Fathering.

Your Child’s Perspective: The IALAC Story (PDF - 226 KB) from Pamela Wilson

This short activity demonstrates the impact of parental conflict on children. The activity is designed to increase participants’ motivation to work cooperatively with their child’s mother and other parenting team members.

Journey – The Road You’ve Traveled (PDF - 180 KB) from Pamela Wilson and Nigel Vann

This activity can be used in group sessions with fathers and in training sessions with staff to facilitate reflection on previous life experiences and encourage identification of ways these experiences have affected personal attitudes toward parenting, relationships, and marriage.