Father and son - Fathers Moving Forward

Fathers Moving Forward, offered at Louise Dean Centre, empowers young dads to engage with their child(ren) and to make healthy and responsible choices for their families.

There’s no way around it; parenting is hard work. This can be especially true for young parents who may lack the knowledge, maturity, or resources of their older counterparts. As well, many young parents are still trying to finish up high school or find work without a diploma.

The barriers to success are immense, which is why we partner with the Calgary Board of Education at the Louise Dean Centre. For the past 50 years, we’ve offered programs and services supporting young moms to finish high school and parent well. But what about dads?

Fathers Moving Forward is the first program of its kind in Canada. Young dads have been chronically underserved. In part, this has been shaped by old beliefs that, when it came to raising kids, fathers were somewhat superfluous.

Fathers and Father Figures are not an Extra

For a long time, fathers were told that a good father was a breadwinner and a disciplinarian. Those were the standards to meet, whatever else you did or didn’t do as a dad.

As ideas about gender change, the role of fathers is rapidly evolving. The new expectations on dads are backed up by research, which shows that involved, supportive fathers have a significant impact on family resilience.

  • Children of involved fathers experience life-long, positive impacts, including fewer behaviour challenges and stronger school performance.
  • Mothers experience lower stress and increased support within an effective co-parenting relationship.
  • Fathers themselves benefit from being involved, showing improved well-being and mental health.

Intuitively, we know dads matter. We have some sense of how our fathers influenced us as we grew up, and the scale and direction of that influence were shaped by how well our dads understood what we needed and showed up to meet those needs.

This is not to say the child of an absent or disengaged father is destined for failure. Families and communities are remarkable systems, and healthy relationships with a mother, grandparents, teachers, and other positive role models can do a lot to compensate. But if we’re serious about building strong families, we need to equip young fathers for success.

Fathers Moving Forward Offers a Better Start for kids.

Young fathers want to be good fathers. They want to be involved but don’t know how.

For many young fathers, their childhood and life experiences limit their capacity to be involved in healthy ways. Perhaps their own father was absent or abusive, so they don’t have a positive example. They might struggle with skewed ideas of masculinity, with addiction, or have challenges controlling their anger. As a result, young dads are often at risk of perpetuating unhealthy relationships and abusive behaviours.

Fathers Moving Forward helps mitigate some of those risks. Co-parenting skills groups, dad skills groups, financial management courses and access to counselling can all help steer young fathers towards healthier patterns.

Supporting young fathers means a better start for kids, increasing the likelihood they will grow up resilient, with a positive self-image, and better able to give themselves to family and community in healthy ways.

Support Young Fathers

Supporting young fathers is a critical leverage point. It helps to grow healthy young families and can break intergenerational cycles of poverty and abuse. In fact, we can’t break these cycles without supporting children to have positive, healthy relationships with BOTH parents.

Before we made the difficult decision to cancel The 2020 UP Gala in response to COVID, the event was intended to raise money in support of young dads.

Though the event is not happening, you can still donate to our programming for young fathers.