The Father’s Rights Movement sprung out of the emerging need to stop the epidemic of children being separated from their fathers. Dadication Documentary Shows how Father Involvement Empowers and Protects Children by providing several examples of fatherhood and their stories.

What is the Dadication Documentary About?

Fatherhood involvement is more common today than it used to be, but our public policies and systems don’t reflect that change in culture. Dadication is a look at some reasons for father absence, the challenges fathers face when trying to get back into their child’s life after a hardship, and the lack of support that they get and the misconceptions about a father’s ability and the role that they play in their child’s life. Several fathers and professionals are interviewed in this documentary. The fathers tell their story in a short-story fashion that is engaging and direct.

The documentary of fathers starts off with Durrell, a father of two, who suffered from addiction, and missed a lot of time with his children. Then goes on to introduce you to several other fathers who for a various of reasons were for a period of time not in their child’s lives. The stories are done in an American Idol flashback style and gives you a quick glimpse into each father’s life with their children now and what they had to overcome before they could share custody, or in one father’s case, the father got sole custody of his child.

The movie concludes with the need for more responsible fatherhood programs, and the need for more father validation and recognition.

This short film grabs you at the beginning and then ends with a dedication montage of moments in these father’s lives that show them reconnected with their happy children.

Who Made the Dadication Documentary?

Fatherhood.gov sponsored the production of this film as part of the Fatherhood Initiative passed by Congress.

What is the Fatherhood Initiative?

The National Fatherhood Initiative was original founded in 1994. It is the nations leading provider of research on father presence and father involvement. This organization is also called NFI.

In 2000, the White House, under President Clinton, unveiled their version of fatherhood with “a major new initiative to promote work, child support, and responsible fatherhood” program. The program perpetuated the idea that fathers were absent and leaving their children unsupported. This program was called “the responsible fatherhood initiative” and became part of President Clinton’s FY 2001 budget. It included “new measures to 1) collect child support from parents who can afford to pay, 2) ensure that more child support goes directly to famlies, and 3) provide funds to help more “deadbroke” fathers, who owe child support, go to work. And was sold to the American people as welfare reform and “to help low-income famlies succeed in the workforce.” Painting fathers as nothing but a paycheck.

What States have programs that support the National Fatherhood Initiative?

The following states have Fatherhood Initiative Bills.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a fatherhood bill into law at a press conference in Tampa, Florida on April 11, 2022.

Connecticut passed their version of the Fatherhood Initiative with bipartisan support in the fall of 1999.

Read the Transcript of Dadication:

PART 1: Father Involvement

Speaker, Durrell Lyons, Father, 0:01
I’m a leader, not a follower. Show it to me. I’m strong. I’m smart. I’m (inaudible) I’m a leader, not a follower. Show it to me. I’m strong. I’m smart. And I’m (inaudbile) And I like it like that. And I’ll never stop fighting. lah, lah, lah, lah lah. Cloey, you’re turn. It’s okay to be smart. It’s okay to be kind. It’s okay to be great. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be weird, and make today magical. If anybody tramples on your magic. I’m (inaudbile). And don’t follow the crowd. You’re not a speck of dust. (Inaudbile) It’s okay to laugh.

I taught both my children how to ride a bike. But I myself never learned how to ride. I couldn’t get on the bike and teach them the mechanics of pedaling and finding your rhythm and balance. I couldn’t do that. All I could do is be there to catch him whenever they fell off. My dad wasn’t around. And I remember riding a bike and falling off and cutting myself and me never just wanting to get back on it. And that’s why I never learned. But when my children fail, I was always there to pick them up and put them back on and say do it again. They fell again, pick them up, put it back on and do it again. Now they ride their bikes through the neighborhood. And people asked how your children learn how to ride a bike, and you didn’t. And I tell them, I didn’t teach them.

I just create an environment where they taught themselves and all I had to do is be there. Sometimes you don’t have to know everything about being a dad. You just got to be there

DESPITE THE PORTRAYAL IN MASS MEDIA, FATHERS HAVE BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN THEIR CHILDREN’S LIVES THAN THEY WERE IN PAST DECADES.

Speaker Juan 1:54
Danny is 2. She’s the wildest baby I’ve ever seen. Sam, he’s all heart.

Speaker Joseph 2:02
Josie I can say, Hey, we’re just gonna go to the store and grab some milk. Why?

Speaker Durrell 2:07
It’s such a validating feeling for your seven year old son to call you his best buddy.

Speaker Quintavious 2:13
I used to wish my first child was a boy. But having a girl you learn so much from a girl.
My baby. She’s my life.

PART II: The biggest misconceptions about fatherhood.

REGARDLESS OF ABILITY, RESEARCH SHOWS THAT FATHERS ARE LESS LIKELY THAN MOTHERS TO SAY THEY ARE DOING A GOOD JOB RAISING THEIR KIDS.

Speaker Kenneth Braswell, Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, CEO Fathers Incorporated 2:35
I remember, when I got the news of the birth of my first daughter. And the first emotion that I had was, I was scared to death. I couldn’t get over the fear of people believing that I could not be a father. As a dad, you don’t want to make mistakes. Right. And so that confidence came to me over time.

Speaker Dr. Armon Perry, Professor, University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work 3:00
You know, I think it’s interesting that one of the biggest misconceptions about fathers is that when they don’t take an active role in their children’s lives, that they’re being willful and intentional about doing it. What I found in my work with dads is that if and when that’s the case, oftentimes there are many barriers and obstacles that they end up facing.

Speaker Narrator 3:17
There’s a cycle that happens to dads and it starts with getting separated from their kids. And that can happen for a lot of different reasons. Maybe the mom is keeping him away, or maybe he’s incarcerated. Maybe he suffers from some kind of addiction. But the longer that separation goes on the harder and harder it gets for him to come back. Because the cycle of that shame continues to build and build and build.

Speaker Joseph Stiltner, Father of 3, 3:43
My biggest fear in the middle of my addiction was that I would never be able to get over it and that my kids won’t have a father. I overdosed on heroin. And I lived. And I started thinking, You know what, this isn’t my store. I missed so much with my first child, you know, because of addiction and the situation with its mother. It doesn’t get easier to stay away. But it really feels like it gets harder to combat. Because you know, there’s going to be questions, you know, why weren’t you there? What was going on? And really, in those moments, no answer is going to be good enough. I get a little emotional man because like I said, it’s it’s a guilt that I kind of live with every day. You know, why do these kids have you all the time dad? And I don’t you know what I mean? So it’s just talking about it’s kind of bringing it, you know, to the surface

Speaker Kenneth Braswell 4:50
I didn’t meet my father until I was 23 years old. And when I met him I was young. I had a two-year-old daughter in my life. I wanted to be The father to my child that he wasn’t for me. And I had gotten disconnected. And so there was this day, I come down to New York and I’m saying, I’m going to go and see my daughter. I’m going to be daddy riding in to the rescue. And I’m standing outside. And I’m excited because they’re coming downstairs. And they’re coming towards me. And I see my daughter coming out of the door. And they walked towards me. And they walked right past me. And I was like either she didn’t see me or she doesn’t know me.

Speaker 5:46
Either way, it hurt, both of them hurt.

Speaker Kenneth Braswell 5:48
Kill me. I rolled around Brooklyn, like trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a bad person.

PART III: Public Policies do not support Dads

IN ADDITION TO MUCH OF THE SELF-INFLICTED GUILT FATHERS FEEL, MANY SYSTEMS INTENDED TO SUPPORT FAMILIES CONTINUE TO BE CHALLENGED TO SUPPORT DADS.

Speaker Dr. Armon Perry 6:13
I think about there’s a lot of institutional issues and challenges that suggest to us that dads aren’t essential. And I’ve always rejected that. There’s public policy that exists that requires dads to be disengaged, in order for families to be eligible.

Speaker Durrell 6:29
I feel like it’s such a broken system. I know men who have children, and are paying child support for their children, but don’t necessarily have visitation rights. There is no system there to help keep the family together. There’s a lot of systems in place to pull money from dad’s pocket, but not necessarily put dad back in the house.

WHEN FATHERS ARE IDENTIFIED IN CHILD WELFARE CASES, CHILDREN SPEND FEWER DAYS IN FOSTER CARE, AND ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE REUNITED WITH THEIR PARENTS.

Speaker Dr. Armon Perry 7:06
I’m a social worker by trade, and I’ll never forget working with kids in foster care, when we would have to file termination of parental rights petition. When a kid was in foster care for 15 out of 22 months, the social worker would have to file the termination petition to sever those parents legal rights so that the child will be free to be adopted. And oftentimes, dads would never even know. So what happened was I found myself just doing my job and following policy, I was complicit in a system of oppression.

Speaker Tina Naidoo 7:44
Hi, I’m Tina Naidoo.

Speaker Braswell
Nice to meet you.

Speaker Naidoo
Nice to meet you.

Speaker Braswell 7:47
You’re in a very unique place, because what we have not talked about today is father’s who have incarcerated backgrounds.

Speaker Naidoo 7:55
The idea is that when you go to prison, there’s rehabilitation. Oftentimes, the correctional institutions don’t offer that. But many of our male clients are fathers are working on that when they’re behind walls. They’re writing letters, they’re sitting through therapy in groups. And they’re hoping that when they get home, they can have a real conversation with their children with their family, and they can be accepted back. A lot of times the judges will say, unless you have a healthy, safe living environment, we can’t release the children back to you. The problem with that is nobody rents to them. Nobody will give them a job because of their background. So how do you create a healthy, stable living environment? And how do you get your children back? So we tend to spend a lot of time motivating our client to stay in the game, to keep fighting, not to give up.

HALF OF IMPRISONED PEOPLE IN THE UNITED STATES ARE PARENTS OF MINOR CHILDREN UNDER AGE 18. MORE THAN 91% OF THEM ARE FATHERS.

Speaker Quintavious, Father of 1. 9:00
I was in prison, and her mom had a heart attack. I told myself, I can raise my child myself. I can do everything myself. I’m going to take custody of my daughter. We left the prison it six o’clock. I was in court by nine, and this lady walk in, she got on this long robe, or whatever. And I told her the situation. She said I don’t know why no one wants to take no one’s daughter when a mother is deceased. You’re seeking for another chance in the world and I’m gonna give it to you. I made a lot of promises to myself I had to keep and I came home to live for my purpose. And so far since I’ve been home from prison it feel like walking into heaven. I got custody of my daughter. That’s a beautiful picture man. That’s a beautiful picture. There ain’t nothing like being a father in this world.

Speaker Juan, Father of 2, 10:03
When they learn something new. And it just clicks in their brain. I just realized I could do this. And you can just see in their faces. It’s it’s such an incredible moment it’s those moments that are, that are my favorite.

Speaker Durrell 10:23
There was a certain point in time where I didn’t, I just wasn’t taking care of myself, I came down with some crippling depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and that depression ended up rolling downhill, my wife was critically depressed. And it emptied into my daughter to where, you know, she was getting made fun of at school, and at the time, because I’m not mentally in the space that I need to be in. I’m coming down on her hard for stuff that’s really not her fault. I was the one with the problem. I wasn’t taking care of myself properly. And it caused. It caused a number of critical issues. And the moment, I finally just humbled myself, and buckled down and went to the hospital, and it taught me, it’s not about me, it’s really not. Because whatever happens to me and affects me mentally and physically, it’s gonna roll downhill. And my children are a part of that hill.

Speaker Kenneth Braswell 11:32
The conversation that we’re having today, even though was about fatherhood, it’s really about children. Everything that we do was about the well being of children.

Speaker Cosette Bowles, CEO of Anthem Strong Families 11:44
I think that’s really important. This is not a fight. This is not a contest where someone wins and somebody loses except your children.

Father Involvement protects Children.

CHILDREN WHOSE FATHERS ARE STABLE AND INVOLVED ARE BETTER OFF ON ALMOST EVERY MEASURE: COGNITIVE, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL.

PART IV: CONCLUSION: Fathers need support and validation.

Speaker Kenneth Braswell 12:04
I think the biggest misconception is that we’re absent. My question is, where are you looking? Because everywhere I go, I see dads. when I go to the school, I see him. When I see them dropping off their kids in the morning, I see him. When I go to my kids game, I see him when I’m at the supermarket. I see him there all over the place. How are you missing us? So the question is, where do we go? Right? Where do we go for help? Who do we ask when we’re feeling vulnerable? The go to has always been, you go to your own father, or you go to someone who serves as your father for information, you go to that model, right. But one of the things that I think that our dads need is affirmation.

Speaker Mohammed Fahmy, Father of 5, 12:53
You’re absolutely right. Because fatherhood needs validation. You know, because we are internally we’re thinking, Am I doing the right thing? Am I always questioning? Am I being a good parent?

Speaker Cosette Bowles 13:04
Women have been certainly are much more notoriously connectors with each other. But men are not that good at it is my perception.

Speaker Kenneth Braswell 13:16
How do we help men in those natural resource spaces where they feel comfortable about asking for something that their manhood may or may not make them feel comfortable in asking for?

Speaker Juan 13:33
As a dad as a male, you know, sometimes you, you feel alone, and you’re looking for sometimes I feel like you want to challenge yourself. Not just for you but for your children to a mouth father of two, my husband but we know I’m learning. You know, every day.

Speaker Narrator 14:12
I believe that everybody on some level understands that fathers matter. If we can get past the emotion of how we’ve been hurt by a dad or by a man in our life who serves as a dad. I think we can find a way to create a bridge back to the hearts of our fathers.

—END TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO–

How many primary custodial fathers are there?

Only 4% of the custodial parents in single family homes are fathers. The number of children living in single-family homes has doubled since 1970.

How many children are raised by single parents?

It is estimated that about 27% of the children in the United States are raised in a one-parent home.

What is the expected outcome for children raised in single parent homes?

Research findings show that children raised in one-parent homes are more likely than children raised in homes with both biological parents to do poorly in school, have emotion and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, more likely to live in poverty, and have poverty-level incomes as adults. Father absence affects outcomes for children in terms of schooling, emotional and behavioral maturity, labor force participation, and nonmarital childbearing. The negative effects of father absence are not limited to those created by reduced famly income.

What are some of the disadvantages fathers face?

Unmarried fathers must prove paternity and then have to fight for parental rights in child custody litigation.

Incarcerated fathers once released have very few resources and find it challenging to reconnect and rebuild a parent-child relationship.

State policies favor mothers and only look to the father for child support.

Fathers have fewer peer support groups.

Fathers were not seen as a necessity and culture is slow to change that perception.

Fathers are seen as just a paycheck. Father involvement has been devalued when their role in their children’s lives is based solely on their cash contributions. (THERE IS MEMBER ONLY CONTENT HERE. TO SEE THE MEMBER ONLY CONTENT BECOME A MEMBER.)

Who are the Responsible Fatherhood Grantees?

RF grantees include states, territories, Indian tribes and tribal organizations, and public and nonprofit community groups (including religious organizations). Financial support of fatherhood initiatives come through the Responsible Fatherhood (RF) grant program.

When did fatherhood initiative funding begin?

Responsible Fatherhood funding began as far back as 1996 as part of the welfare reform law.

Where does funding come from for Responsible Fatherhood programs?

Over the years, sources of federa lfunding for fatherhood programs have included the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, TANF state MaintenanceofEffort (MOE) funding, Child Support Enforcement (CSE) funds, and Social Services Block Grant (Title XX) funds. However, the need for a specific funding stream for the program was identified in legislation as early as the 106th Congress, and President George W. Bush included funding for such programs in each of his budgets.

Ultimately, funding for a competitive Healthy Marriage Promotion (HMP) and Responsible Fatherhood (RF) grants program was enacted as part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109171). Between FY2006 and FY2010, the act provided up to $50 million per year for the RF grants and about $100 million per year for the HMP grants but the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (P.L. 111291) subsequently altered the split between the programs to $75 million each. Funding for these programs has been extended on multiple occasions since that time, usually through provisions in appropriations acts. On May 5, 2017, funding was extended through the end of FY2018 by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 11531). 

What government agency influences the Responsible Fatherhood legislation the most?

The Office of Family Assistance (in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)).

 

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Written by Sherry Palmer

As a constitutional family rights expert researcher and writer, Sherry helps parents and their attorneys see the possibilities in making constitutional arguments for parental rights as being in the child’s best interests. She enables parents and attorneys to assert rights and convert the constitutional principles into everyday practice and natural language. Sherry does this through creating and teaching online digital courses, speaking, webinars, and workshops. Sherry’s teachings are unique and cutting edge to the family law industry developed by her and her husband. Sherry attributes successfully developing the most powerful tools and a five-stage formula to assist attorneys and pro se parents get better results and fight legal abuses that occur in the family court settings.