(Above: TFP Program Director, John Badalament, and a group of Teen Dads Program participants)
Despite research demonstrating the importance of fathers for children’s social, academic, and emotional development, teen dads remain an underserved population. Most programs dedicated to low-income families and teen pregnancy focus on mothers rather than fathers. Research shows that 25% of teen dads want to be an active part of their children’s lives (B.A. Laris, MPH, personal communication, October 2016), but there are many barriers that can make involved fatherhood difficult for these young men, including financial restraints, the relationship with the baby’s mother, and a lack of parenting skills. In an effort to reach this at-risk population — often referred to as ‘the forgotten partner in teen pregnancies’ — TFP’s Teen Dads Program provides expecting and parenting teen fathers with support, fathering skills and resources.
For most teenage boys, this sporty duffle bag would be filled with a uniform, dirty socks, some notebooks…anything but what you see: diapers, wipes, a copy of Good Night Moon and other board books. A version of this Dads Kit is given to each of the young men attending The Fatherhood Project’s Teen Dads Program, along with tools and exercises to help them understand that an essential aspect of parenting is taking responsibility and being knowledgeable about their children every day.
“The Fatherhood Project provided a great service to the young men at our school who are fathering. Our young dads were able to recognize how important they are in their children’s lives and to think about what kind of dad they want to be. TFP’s program is a great resource for our students.”
– Lauren Bard, CIS Site Coordinator at Boston English High School”
Many of these young dads feel alienated and experience a lot of judgment from their family and from their friends at school. Our co-facilitated group model provides them with a safe, educational and positive place to be with others going through similar experiences, as well as to learn important relationship skills.
The content of the group meetings is based on the stories young fathers share about their everyday lives — the challenges they face, the strengths and resources they draw upon — interspersed with:
- Fathering skill-building activities
- Usable knowledge about child development (including the latest in brain science)
- Co-parenting information
- Practical parenting tips
- Thematic ‘virtual visits’ from guests brought in via video
TFP has applied for a grant in collaboration with Fathers Uplift in order to run eight sessions of our Teen Dads Program. We look forward to partnering with Fathers Uplift Founding Director, Charles Daniels, to bring this necessary program to more young fathers in the Boston area.
“I have learned how to be a better father and to better communicate with my significant other. Hearing that other guys have the same issues as we do really helps.”
-Corey, Teen Dads Program, Healthy Families at Catholic Charities of Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA
TFP’s Teen Dads program uses a co-facilitated group model and provides these young men with a safe, educational, and positive place to learn to be a father while being with others going through similar experiences. Their children benefit from the fathers’ confidence and competence which promotes more emotional engagement. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.