incarcerated fathers learn to nurture
sen. william “mo” cowan meets with local fathers
Being a parent is a tough job.
That’s what Sen. William “Mo” Cowan heard from a group of fathers and family support professionals during a recent meeting at the Children’s Trust, Massachusetts’ leading family support agency.
The Children’s Trust will honor Senator Cowan at its annual gala, “An Evening of Promise," in October, for his commitment to the children of Massachusetts. Senator Cowan is Of Counsel at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the firm’s consulting affiliate, ML Strategies, LLC.
As a father of two boys, Senator Cowan met with five fathers from the Boston area who came together to discuss lessons learned through the Nurturing Fathers Group, a parenting support and coaching program funded by the Children’s Trust
During the 13-week program, fathers learn how to engage with their children, parenting tips, relationship advice, self-nurturing, and services available in their communities. The fathers became close friends and important supports to each other.
The dads moved the Senator. “I learned a lot from this conversation. Maybe I could benefit from this program,” he said.
“It’s a moment of power shared, not power over,” Suzin Bartley, Executive Director of the Children’s Trust, told the Senator.The Senator said he picked up some parenting tips to bring home. For example, parents should get down on their knees when talking to your child. Doing so improves communication and eliminates intimidation and fear.
“I was deeply apprehensive when I became a father..” the Senator said. “I was lucky. I had the support of a circle of relatives and friends who helped me along. But, a program like this would have been invaluable.”
Mario Chaparro, a participant in the group and the father of two children, said he also had a rough time with his father. “All I knew was what I experienced. I didn’t want to do that to my children. But Nurturing Fathers made the difference.”
He learned patience and skills to take care of his children. The program inspired him to improve his life.
“I work, I go to school, I dedicate my time to my children because I want to make a better world for her.”
Jon O’Neil, who leads the Nurturing Fathers Group in Dorchester, said, “We parent as we were parented. But now the role of ‘father’ has expanded; and the guys get that through Nurturing Fathers. They turn their lives around.”
Mr. O’Neil told of a recent program graduation where a 13-year-old boy told him, he did not know what Mr. O’Neil did, but his father was a better dad. Mr. O’Neil called over the boy’s father and asked the son to say that directly to his dad.
“The dad, a tough guy who entered the program thinking he knew everything about fathering, broke down in tears.”
Senator Cowan told the group leaders, “Parenting style is a generational characteristic. Every father you save, you save multiple generations of families.”
Senator Cowan and his wife, Stacy Cowan, have two sons. Ms. Cowan is a partner at Morgan, Brown, and Joy, LLP, of Boston..
The Children’s Trust will hold “An Evening of Promise: Gala to Benefit Families” on Oct. 25, 2014, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It will include live and silent auctions, dinner and dancing. For more information, visit childrenstrustma.org/gala.