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Book seeks to bring dads back
The fathers of nearly one third of American children may not be acknowledged this Fathers Day. Absent fathers are a significantly growing segment of the population, say the authors of a new book meant to help nonresidential dads become better parents.
While recent census numbers show more dads are raising their children solo, even greater numbers of divorced, teen or never-married fathers have little or no meaningful contact with their children, says Glenn Stone, assistant professor of family studies and social work at Miami University, and co-author of Fathering-At-Risk: Helping Nonresidential Fathers (July 2001).
Stone and colleague James R. Dudley of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, have both worked as family therapists. After having seen the many barriers to effective parenting, the authors advocate programs, policies and other ideas to help men become more active and responsible fathers. Their book stresses whats best for children and recognizes that may or may not involve cooperative parenting, and that the mothers needs must also be heard.
"Both parents can do significantly more than one alone," says Stone. He cites one program that had some success by simply getting parents to communicate. "So much good came out of having the opportunity to talk."
The never-married portion of absent dads is the largest growing segment. These fathers have less physical attachment and give less financial support, on the whole, than do divorced fathers. "Men are socialized to detach more than women, be distant from their emotions," says Stone, which makes the challenge of teaching fathering even more difficult.
But its an important goal. "If your dad is involved in your life, you have another adult who loves you. He provides a positive male role model for girls and boys, including just having the opportunity to talk with an adult male. And a physically involved father is a paying father. It may keep a child out of poverty."
Stone is teaching a summer workshop, "Disengaged Fathers: How to Help," June 18-22 at Miami U. He can be reached at (513) 529-3305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.