Fathers To Dads, Inc.
On a mission to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children.
The Mission is Possible!
Jared is eight years old and seems to spend more time in the principal’s office than in his classroom. Today, he was acting out again to get other students in the class to laugh. It feels good when they laugh, he feels like he is accepted and valued—problem is the teachers don’t agree — and his behavior always lands him in trouble. Although it is embarrassing and he knows his mom will be mad at him, he can’t seem to stop. And his dad, well it won’t even matter, because he is not there.Emily was chosen for the lead role in the play in her third grade class. She is excited, because she has rehearsed her lines and will be wearing a beautiful costume with angels wings that her mom bought for her big day. She is so proud. She grabs the edge of the curtain and scans the crowd as the excitement builds in her heart. But then her face drops, and her heart sinks. He promised he would come, but the curtain is being drawn on the biggest day in her life—and he is not there– again.
According to recent U.S. Census data, 24 million children wake up in homes without fathers. The hole an absent father leaves in the heart of a child is immeasurable, but the impact of children raised without fathers is being felt throughout society.
• 20 million children live in single-parent households.
• 85% of all youths sitting in prison grew up in a fatherless home.
• Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor.
• Fatherless children are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
• Children in father-absent homes have a 74% greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect and a 120% greater risk of being endangered by some type of child abuse.
• Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
• 85% of all youth in prison grew up in a fatherless home.
The statistics bear truth to a sad and growing reality, but a Houston non-profit called, Fathers To Dads, Inc., has called a ‘time out’ on fatherlessness and is charging men to “Daddy Up.”
J. Scott Porter, founder of the organization, grew up without a father as a young child, and credits his father’s return into his life when he was 11 years old, with changing the course of his life.
“Although I resented him when he came back, what my dad did saved my life,” says Porter.
According to the Bronx, New York native, his father set boundaries for him and instilled values and morals in his life.
In 2011, Porter launched Fathers To Dads, Inc. with co-founders, Leon Jenkins and Dr. Sandra Jenkins and joined forces with national spokesperson, U.S. Olympic hurdler, Terrence Trammel ,to encourage fathers nationwide to become more involved in their children’s lives.
Through the collaboration, the organization is building a network of celebrity speakers who share the nonprofit’s vision of encouraging men to become better fathers to their children.
“A father sets boundaries for their sons in a way that no one else can, and sets a precedent for their daughters when they treat them like queens, which positions them to accept no less from the guys they deal with,” says Porter.
The organization’s current initiative is to get one million men from across the country to sign the “Dads Go Big In 2012 Million Dads Pledge” by Father’s Day, June 17, 2012.
The 12-step initiative outlines a list of simple steps any father can take to become an active presence in the life of his child or children.
“The pledge is pretty simple. It includes the following 12 things we want dads to commit to,” says Porter.
1. I will tell my children I love them more often.
2. I will hug them more.
3. I will spend more time with my children.
4. I will keep my promises to my children.
5. I will attend school events with my children.
6. I will take my daughter on a date.
7. I will take my son to a movie or a ball game.
8. I will make it a point to know what’s going
on in their lives.
9. I will become a better listener.
10. I will be more financially responsible.
11. I will teach my child to pray.
12. I will be their spiritual leader.
When the New York native began putting the project together, doors started opening and concepts started to come to his mind on how to raise awareness of the crucial role fathers play in the lives of their children.
In February, the organization signed national spokesperson U.S. Olympic silver medal hurdler, Terrence Trammel, who has been spreading the word on the “Million Dads Pledge,” on radio stations in Atlanta.
Trammel credits his success in sports to his father’s involvement in his life and wants other young people to enjoy the same privilege.
“Having my dad there for nearly all of my practices, games and school functions that I was involved in, gave me all of the self-confidence and self-esteem that I could accomplish anything. I just want to do whatever I can to encourage fathers out there who may not currently have the best relationships with their children to put past issues behind them and reconnect with their children,” says Trammell.
Co-founder and vice president, Dr. Sandra Jenkins, an assistant professor at Prairie View A&M University, echoes the importance of fathers in the lives of children.
”My hope is that fathers would step into their roles and seek to be that positive influence in the lives of their children so they won’t feel that sense of abandonment,” says Jenkins.
The nonprofit has garnered the support of a growing slate of celebrity speakers who can be booked through the organization to speak at events and conferences nationwide on the need to empower fathers to take a lead role in their children’s lives.
In addition to Trammel, the list of spokespersons includes former NBA Lakers player and NBA Great, A.C. Green, former Houston Texans player and current Houston Texans Ambassador, J.J. Moses, original Tuskegee Airman Dr. Calvin Spann and renowned artist and sculptor Tony Sherman. Other notable speakers also can be booked as speakers at schools, universities, community events and conferences.
Whether you grow up to be President of the United States or are a young girl or boy searching for your father’s face at your school play or baseball game, the presence of a father matters, stresses Porter.
“I really want fathers to dig down deep and to examine their hearts and answer the question: ‘Are you the missing link in your child’s life?’ Your child can be all they can be, but imagine, with you in their life they can be even more,” says Porter.
As Father’s Day approaches, the Houston-based nonprofit has launched several outreach efforts aimed at bridging the gap between fathers and their children.
The organization recently held a casting call that drew a number of fathers and their children to the Marriott Hotel in Sugar Land, Texas for a free “A Picture is Worth A Million Words” photo shoot as a part of the Daddy Up national campaign.
The nonprofit is working on plans for a “Daddy Let’s Go Fishing Day” for fathers to bring their sons and daughters for several hours of outdoor fishing fun.
“We are asking fathers to leave their cell phones behind and come out and spend quality time with their children,” says Porter.
A monthly legal blog written by Houston Attorney Derrick King will soon be featured on the organization’s website designed to educate men on their rights as fathers.
“We want fathers to know that we are on their side and want to empower them to get involved in the lives of their children and to defeat all the excuses,” says Porter.
For Porter, an ordained minister, the primary goal is to inspire, educate and empower men to become the fathers they were created to be.
“Even if the relationship with the mother has ended, the relationship with your child is not over,” he says.
The mission of becoming a better father is not impossible, stresses Porter, but it does require fathers to take action.
“You need to step up and stop being a spectator, says Porter. “Simply put, it’s time to “Daddy Up.”
For more information or to take the Million Dads Pledge, visit www.fathers2dads.org.