Dads Make a Difference
Dads Make a Difference addresses two of the major causes of children living in poverty - absent fathers and too-early parenting. Healthy fatherhood complements and supports healthy motherhood and provides chidren with a rich experience and understanding of life. Yet current examinations of male socialization often show a scarcity of healthy male adult role models for boys and a lack of education about what it means to grow up to become a positive man and father. Prior to becoming dads, young men often do not give a great deal of thought or attention to whether they would like to ahve children, how many, and what they want their families to look like. We need to give young men the ability to be partners in conversations about pregnancy prevention and family planning as an important aspect of a young man's development and long-term success. Research shows children with involved, loving fathers are more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers. Statistics show 80% of all Americans become parents, yet adjustments in family life offer young people fewer chances to learn good parenting soley by observation at home. An alarming number of children are at risk of being abused, neglected, or otherwise poorly nurtured by inadequately prepared or supported parents. Neglected or abused children are prone to perpetuate this cycle by becoming adults without resources for healthy parenting. Preparing young people to become caring, competent parents is an effective way to prevent child abuse and other violence, increase mental health, advance school preparedness, and achieve academic success. Research shows the economic impact of teen pregnancy and father absence on children and families is significant. The social and economic stability of a family is greatly impacted by decisions made early in life by teens who jsut didn't think about the responsibilities involved with they have a baby. By delaying parenting until they are ready, young people are more likely to create healthy families who can realize their dreams and also contribute to the health and strength of their communities. If a price tag could be put on future workforce productivity in our country, the growing number of children in poverty is very expensive. Ending childhood poverty is both a moral and economic imperative.
Focusing on the role of fathers in raising children, Dads Make a Difference educates young men and women about the responsibilities of parenting and the challenges of parenting too soon. Young people who understand parental responsibility are more likely to form strong families that are emotionally and financially secure. These families are the backbone of productive, nurturing communities. The DMAD teen peer educator training promotes positive youth development by bringing together teens from around the state in a neautral, non-competitive educational setting that opens up a variety of learning opportunities around diversity, inclusiveness, and skill-building. DMAD acknowledges all of the potential family types that youth might be growing up in, helps youth see the protective factors they have even when certain family types might also have many risk factors, and provides information and skills so youth can make informed, responsible decisions about their futures.