The Father I Want to Be
“The father I want to be is able to turn my negative experiences and mistakes into valuable life lessons to draw from while I teach my children what it truly means to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix.” These are the powerful words of an incarcerated father in Boston, separated from his family but learning how to provide a nurturing, healthy environment for his children when he returns home.
The last word you might associate with a jail setting is “nurturing,” but the South Bay Correctional Facility in Boston is trying to change that.
As part of our Fatherhood Initiative, the Children’s Trust partnered with South Bay to bring the Nurturing Fathers curriculum to the young dads at the facility. The Nurturing Father’s program is a 13-week evidence-based curriculum that helps fathers build and strengthen positive parenting attitudes and behaviors. The men spend time reflecting on their own childhood and how they have parented their children, culminating in an affirmation about the kind of the father they want to be.
“The father I want to be is willing and able to learn, adapt, and evolve as often as is necessary to become the best man I can be for my family.”
“The father I want to be will not let society’s ideas of masculinity effect how he shows love and affection to his family.”
“The father I want to be will set forth a legacy of triumphs, accomplishments, positivity, and wisdom.”
These men take the very difficult steps to recognize how their own traumas and mistakes have impacted their parenting and the long-term impact that may have on their children. It is an important step in breaking the cycle of neglect that will allow their children to grow up in healthy, nurturing homes.
"After four years partnering successfully with the Hampshire House of Corrections on a similar program, we were thrilled to support the use of this evidence-based curriculum here in Boston," said Steven Pascal, Program Director at the Children's Trust. "We know our work together is positively impacting the lives of inmates and their children."
The first program of 10 men met twice per week with a structured curriculum designed to help them build parenting skills and strengthen their bonds with their children. It wrapped up in August and while the men could not welcome their families to the ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions, they report that they are already thinking differently about the way that they talk to their children as a result of the program.