MENZ Issues

Ideas from the Fathering Forum 2006

Ideas from the Fathering Forum 2006
[Authors name not included, due to possible privacy issues.]
This document was salient in 2006.
In the years that have gone by, I believe that it is just as salient today. I guess some progress has been made in some areas, but nothing like what should have been. In particular, Family Caught has developed surprisingly little in that time, if it has moved forward at all?

This list of issues still provide a good overview, to address and prioritise these problems 11 years later.

What are the problems fathers face?
• Lack of own fathering
• Lack of skills
• Expectations- Known and Unknown
• Work. Long work hours and not enough time off
• Some mothers are controlling and possessive
• Negative father stories in the community
• Isolation from each other
• Lack of recognition of male essence and culture
• Lack of self esteem, self worth, self affirmation

• Lack of celebration
• Providing. Lack of money at a critical time.
• Lack of positive assertion of their role
• Dependency on partner
• Constraints around showing emotions
• Confusion around sexuality and intimacy
• Sex needed as a physical affirmation of love
• Fear of reaching out – and then having their kids taken from them.
• Exposing themselves to emotional risk
• Lack of support from other men
• Lack of support for role change from women
• Extended family supporting traditional stereotypes
• Being excluded as a parent by health and education professionals
• Not enough time to think and process
• Fear of failing
• Judgmental attitude of others
• Being isolated from peers who are non-fathers
• Breaking intergenerational violence cycles
• Stress of change
• Lower education and earning than mothers
• Fear of being accused of sexual abuse
• Father-unfriendly workplaces
• Lack of sense of mature self
• Lack of powerful father role models
• Society’s attitude that fathering is not as important as mothering
• Lack of experience of themselves as nurturers
• Being available for appointment times
• Perceived expectations that others have – that they won’t (can’t) measure up

How can we make our agencies father-friendly?

• Convenient hours of engagement
• Focus on men’s needs and specific issues
• Use man-friendly processes
• Include fathers as essential parents
• Have an activity to address an issue– doing rather than talking
• Employ fathers/males in the agencies
• Employ staff who have male-friendly attitudes
• Free service – or with a contribution
• Don’t assume that they have enough money
• Make your service a safe place
• Be non-judgemental
• Have male groups
• Women- don’t mother men
• Be flexible about different arrangements and behaviour other than ‘normal’
• Have a fire place
• Have male reading material in the waiting room
• Have male/father images and promo material about
• Give equal recognition to fathers
• Have visible male role-models
• Suggest internet sites
• Have open spaces/outside area
• Acknowledge place of fathers within agency policy
• Have places for fathers on forms and use them
• Integrate fathers into the programmes
• Know places to refer fathers to
• Believe in the ability of men to meet the challenges
• Train staff on gender differences
• Listen and learn
• Consider going into a workplace
• Accept men where they are at
• Make food available, use BBQ’s, check diets
• Respect that fathers parent differently
• Allocate equal funding

How can we build/create fathers who don’t abuse others and don’t abuse themselves?
• Support for men by men
• Build a strong sense of consequence
• Build men’s sense of self worth
• Work with them to clean up old issues
• More male mentors
• Understand men’s needs better
• Reduce ‘macho’ and ‘stupid/clown’ images on TV
• Get them to deliver and hold their newborn child
• Broaden our notion and experience of the masculine
• Men stop brutalising men in wars
• Have less emphasis on aggressive sports
• Encourage more men to become primary and early childhood teachers
• Stop denying women’s abuse of children and men Listen to their own stories of being abused
• Promote kindness amongst men
• Help men find their male identity not their ‘feminine side’
• Affirm, include, value and encourage positive fathering
• Make sure you are in positive relationship with their story
• Surround them with men who DON’T abuse
• Engage fathers in the care of children and babies
• Develop father-friendly antenatal classes and post-care inclusion
• Include fathers in conversations with health and education professionals
• Reduce T.V., movie and video game violence by taxing them
• Have courses and services for men
• Challenge media, policy and attitudes that say men are unsafe
• Protect men from false allegation
• Build awareness of God/spiritual realm
• Give them better child knowledge
• Men-to-male messages to stop violence
• Mentor men
• Work on a Family/Whanau basis
• Brainstorm with the father about how he can live better
• Use fatherhood as a motivation for change
• Get boys involved with babies and the elderly
• Acknowledge fathers when they get it right
• Acknowledge the role and importance of fathers
• Build a morals/values base
• Lead by example and model
• Hear men’s stories with an open mind
• Challenge drug issues
• Heal by mind shifts
• Use laughter and humour
• Use action methods
• Give information on the consequences of abuse to others
• Challenge directly and kindly
• Create a vision of how it could be
• Keep men connected to relationships and family
• Have them tell success stories to other men
• Build boundaries and consequences

Where do we go from here as a community?
• Contribute to a community fathering report
• Convince others of the importance of fathering
• Set up training days for staff
• Evaluate our community services
• Have council sponsor a fathering dinner
• Create a father-friendly employer’s policy
• More Community forums,
• Complete the SKIP training
• Develop a father-friendly agency policy
• Develop a father-friendly strategy for the city
• Check the Australian model for the Family Court [they haven’t moved forward either!]
• Encourage midwifery and neonatal information
• Get fathering posters throughout the city
• Get father displays at Parenting shows and toddlers day outs
• Challenge government agencies to think about relationships
• Get funding to employ a fathering co-ordinator
• Get the Citizen’s Advice informed on fathers
• Get publications and information material for Dads
• Develop a media plan
• Set up a mentoring programme for boys with no significant adult male

This [old] document still gives a good strategic focus.
Those who forget history, are doomed to keep repeating it.