time to act
young father tells audience at golf fundraiser how children’s trust program made him a better dad
Jamaul Miller, a graduate of a Nurturing Fathers Group funded by the Children’s Trust, told nearly 100 golfers that the program helped him gain the skills to be a great dad and inspired him to be an advocate for more fatherhood programs.
“Nurturing Fathers pointed out all the positives that I have to offer to my daughter. I no longer feel inferior as a parent. I feel more empowered as a father,” he said.
Jamaul spoke at the Children’s Trust’s seventh annual Fatherhood Classic held at Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy. The event raised critical funding for the Children’s Trust Fatherhood Initiative and other programming.
“There are a lot of programs for mothers. But, to find a program that catered to fathers was like finding a needle in a hay stack,” he said.
Jamal, who lives in Quincy, shares joint physical custody of his six-year-old daughter, Jaya, with her mother.
”Before I felt isolated, like the odds were stacked against me – with the threatening sense that I needed to just figure it out as best I could with little to no resources. I knew that I wasn’t the first or the only man to face this and thought to myself, ‘I need help.’”
For 13 weeks, he attended the Nurturing Fathers Group at Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. There he learned new parenting skills and shared his fathering issues with 17 other dads. The group grew into a tight support system.
As an example of his new parenting proficiency, Jamaul told a story about his young daughter announcing that she had a boyfriend. “Internally, I exploded. But, to my daughter, I kept a total poker face, because I want to have the type of relationship with her so she feels she can tell me anything.”
Through the Nurturing Fathers Group, he learned that if he reacted by yelling – his first instinct as he wanted her to understand how seriously he took boyfriends – the actual outcome would be to lower Jaya’s self-esteem by making her feel bad about herself and tempt her to close off from him. He learned that in some instances it’s best to parent with “my head and not my emotions.”
“This one nugget of information changed my entire approach and I have Nurturing Fathers to thank for it.”
“I guess you can say I pass the test because now Jaya tells me about all the boys she likes and even some of the boys her friends like. Now other parents ask me for insight about who their children may have crushes on because they know I have the inside scoop.”
His experience with the Nurturing Fathers Group has inspired Jamaul to advocate for more programs for fathers. He pointed out that “mothers have a social and political support system to ensure that they become the best mothers they can be.”
“And now fathers have a program like the Nurturing Fathers Group that can provide that same support and instill the same confidence in fathers. I went from being impulsive to thoughtful. Isolated to connected. Unaware to informed.”