News & Events

An Owner’s Manual for Fathers

So much of parenting is learned from the way we were parented. But as the times change, we have to rethink what is best way for parents and children to bond. D’ron Waldron treated his children with the same “tough love” with which his father had treated him. Unfortunately, his kids feared him because he yelled at them so often.

But it is never too late to change paths. Thanks to Rising Ground’s Fatherhood Initiative program, D’ron, who shared his story on a Father's Day feature on WFUV, now uses a different approach with his three daughters and one son, who range in age from 5 months to 11 years. “I want a more open relationship with my children than I had with my father,” he says. “I want them to trust me so they can talk to me. I’m trying to break the chain.”

Studies show children who lack positive relationships with their fathers face a higher risk of dropping out of school, experiencing behavioral problems, and living in poverty, according to the National Center for Fathering. Therefore, whether fathers live with their children or not, it is vitally important for them to bond.

Most fathers long to have close relationships with their offspring, according to Reginald Mitchell, who leads Rising Ground’s Fatherhood Initiative “It’s not that men don’t want to be close to their children. They just don’t know how,” he explains.

Through the Fatherhood Initiative program, fathers discover how and why children behave at different ages. The program uses a 10-week evidence-based curriculum to also help fathers learn how to manage their anger, communicate with their children, co-parent with the mothers of the children, and many other skills.

The two-year old program works. Nearly 300 fathers have gone through Rising Ground’s Fatherhood Initiative, and Reginald says every single one has forged a connection with his children.

Named Father of the Month
It is amazing to hear that D’ron, who was referred to Rising Ground because authorities considered him to be a possible danger to his children, was subsequently named “Father of the Month” at his two-year-old daughter’s nursery school. Because he was so helpful at the school doing little things, such as cleaning up litter, the school hired D’ron as a custodian.

“[D’ron] became a well-rounded man,” Reginald says. At the time of his referral, D’ron was unemployed and homeless. Rising Ground helped him find stable housing, and he began to use the skills he learned to control his emotions. “I don’t raise my voice anymore when I talk to my children,” he says. If he feels anger, “I go for a walk.”
D’ron says the program’s “community” or group sessions, in which men sit together with staff and talk, made the biggest impression on him. “People talk about situations that are challenging them, and we discuss what someone should do in those situations,” he says.

He adds, “We laugh; we cry. We learn to accept responsibility for our actions. Most importantly, we learn we’re going to get through it.”

The Fatherhood Initiative is part of our Family Stabilization Services, whose programs and approach successfully help 98 percent of its families stay together.