The Importance of Fatherhood

Written by: Selena DiGiovanni

This week, Obama gave his annual State of the Union Address. He carefully presented a plan to help this country grow and change. But one of the most underrated statements which President Obama made was about strong families and the importance of fathers.

“…And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples and do more to encourage fatherhood, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, it’s having the courage to raise one,” said Obama.

We have always known that fathers are important in our children’s lives, but our presidents have never made it a priority to call fathers back to their children.  We have never been told by our president that fathers need to form stronger bonds with our children. That is because, until recently, we have not known the true extent of the importance of fathers.

Father and baby bond.

Spending time with your children can make a world of difference.

In the past, several studies have been published which acknowledge that living in a strong home as a child leads to stronger lives in general. However, recent studies have gone into more depth, saying that, in order to have a strong foundation, both parents should be present in a child’s day to day life.

While it may seen like a minor difference, having a father in the home makes a tremendous difference to a child’s life. Studies conducted in Sweden have shown that children, both male and female, who have an active relationship with their father are likely to reap the benefits of that relationship. Benefits include fewer behavioral problems, as well as better social relationships with both genders.

“Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical well-being at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16,” said Dr. Anna Sarkadi of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University in Sweden.

In 2011, 27% of children (ages 0-17) in the US were living in one parent households. Of that 27%, approximately 75% of children were living in single mother households. That means that about 20.25% of children in the US are living without a father figure in their life. This number is higher than it has ever been, and in such stressful and tumultuous times, the benefits of having a loving father has never been more important.

A father reads to his son.

Connecting with your children is incredibly important.

While the mere presence of a father is not enough, building a strong relationship between children and their fathers is incredibly simple. Children simply require a loving bond with their father in order to form a lasting relationship. Fathers are strongly encouraged to engage their children emotionally and emotional moments as a time for learning on both sides. What you do in the short term can mean a world of difference for your children.

The men in our nation have been called upon to show courage. If you have the courage, love your children.

Project Fleur-de-lis Addresses Post-Katrina Mental Health Needs Among New Orleans Children

Project Fleur-de-lis has been one of the few nonprofit organizations in the New Orleans area that has provided mental health services to those suffering psychological trauma in the wake of Katrina.

Despite the general scarcity of resources in the city of New Orleans to address the mental health crisis following Hurricane Katrina, Project Fleur-de-lis has taken strong initiative in helping children and families affected by traumatic experiences develop ways to cope with the psychological scars that resulted from the disaster.

Project Fleur-de-lis seeks to take a proactive approach to address the severity of the mental health crisis in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina though intervention in the influential stages of childhood development among children suffering psychological trauma.  It has been well-documented that in the wake of Katrina, severe mental illness among survivors of the disaster, as well as those suffering from its after-effects in the city of New Orleans has reached a rate double that of the general population.

Project Fleur-de-lis is a nonprofit organization which utilizes a three-tier intervention system designed to identify individuals in need of mental health services after suffering psychological trauma incurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and to curb the damaging effects of the enduring symptoms on a child’s future academic and social development.  Project Fleur-de-lis works with more than 60 participating elementary schools in the area of New Orleans to provide in-school services to those in need of assistance.

Beginning with school-wide interventions, Project Fleur-de-lis attempts to identify and reach out to those in need of mental health services to address the psychological trauma of Hurricane Katrina and its after-effects through classroom intervention and in-school counseling.  For those requiring further assistance, Project Fleur-de-lis offers assessment and referral services from professional counselors to additional professional mental health services and care.  Project Fleur-de-lis additionally offers educational workshops for parents and teachers to help develop approaches to more effectively cope, as well as assistance to those in financial difficulty to provide a healthy environment for psychological healing. 

You can help support Project Fleur-de-lis in its efforts to provide mental health care for those suffering the psychological scars of Hurricane Katrina with a donation by telephone or contact the Project Fleur-de-lis Director of Development Stephen J. Engro at the Project Fleur-de-lis website.