Fathers make a critical impact

It’s early morning, and I’m sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee and watching “Hope Floats.” I’ve already cried while watching the scene in the movie where Birdie visits her dad in the nursing home. While she’s making herself busy hanging pictures in his room and filling the silence with chit-chat, she turns around to see him standing with his arms out to her. She steps in, and they dance. I’m a daddy’s girl. I’m sure to my mother it was as much a joy as it was an irritation. A joy because she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way for me, and an irritation because I am an only child, and I’m sure it often seemed to be two against one to her (even though I think she usually won). In the world of working with young children, it’s often the mother with whom we engage. In many cases, she’s both momma and daddy to her kids. So I was excited to tell you last month about the trend we’re seeing among teen dads enrolling in our Adolescent Parenting Program with the actual intention to learn how to be good parents to their children. It seems to me that there has been a good cultural shift for fathers — one where this current generation of young fathers is more engaged, starting with being in the room when their babies are born. My own father would have never considered that a possibility. Even so, while we’re seeing this positive cultural trend, our nation is also experiencing what has been labeled a “father crisis.” According to the U.S. Census...