Philly parenting program teaches young men to become strong fathers

young fathers united parenting program
Young Fathers United parenting program graduate Lionel Walters, 26, holds up his course certificate.
Credit: Courtesy Young Fathers United

Philadelphia’s Institute for the Development of African American Youth, through its Young Fathers United Program, is attempting to forge a new culture of parenting.

IDAAY director Archye S. Leacock said he first saw the need for the program 12 years ago as he worked to identify issues facing the black community.

“Fatherhood was one of the things I noticed was a major problem,” Leacock said.

“Some 70 something percent of our children were being born to unwed mothers and we needed fathers to take responsibility for their offspring. Children need guidance, love and support and just to have one person do it, especially a mother who is doing so much, it was just burdening our sisters and we needed men to step up and do their part.”

But he soon learned simple parenting classes weren’t enough. He found it was paramount for the 13-week workshops to address education and job training, as well as connect participants with social services resources.

“There are many other problems – sociological problems, structural problems and just the culture,” Leacock said.

“So we took on the challenges of helping young men figure out their custodial rights, what they need, helping them get serious about, ‘Look, even if you didn’t go in for a child, just for a night with the vodka, 9 months later you are a father and how are you going to be the best father?’”

Leacock said attendees of the 13-week workshop discuss “a barrage of topics.”

“So many of our guys – I think more than 80 percent of them – have not finished high school, so we have to tell them there is a GED program to finish that,” he said.

“Step one, you have to strengthen yourself. I use this analogy with the young men all the time – when you’re on the plane, you have to put your mask over your face before you can care for anybody else. You have to strengthen yourself first. You can’t worry yet about being a parent if you’re not finished high school and don’t have a decent job.”

Leacock said he also realized many program participants lived through a cycle of poor parenting, which impacted how they approached raising their own children.

“It is probably the largest predictor of how children are going to be raised – ‘My mother hit me, I’m going to hit you. I’m still alive, you will get beat too. Why? It happened when I grew up,’” Leacock said.

“We get it all the time. It don’t make no sense but it does because you don’t see the other side. It takes a lot of conversation – we stress alternatives, open them up to new options. Then they become a leader to model the behavior.”

Recent program graduate Lionel Waters, 26, said the experience made him a better parent.

“I would say one of the most important things is definitely learning that my experience as a father, it’s a continuing thing,” he said.

“I’m not just called for one role. It’s really multi-faceted, and as long as I’m able to listen and get with other people and have resources and tap into those resources, that I’ll actually be able to be in the best position to be able to provide for my child.”

He said a lot of the skills taught are things “some parents might just say are a given, things you should just know.”

“But in actuality, not everybody knows these things,” Waters said.

“So it’s a good place to set up a dialogue and to receive some type of basic foundation for parenting principles.”

Those interested in attending the program can call 215-901-6979 or visit the Institute for the Development of African American Youth website.

Transportation assistance and childcare services are available upon request.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…