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Educational classes advance fathers' abilities to parent

Raising a child is not easy, even with two parents around. But when a father has to do his parenting while separated from the child's mother, the job becomes even harder. Fortunately, help is on the way in the form of parenting classes and educational materials specifically directed to help new fathers. These new programs may even help strengthen fathers' rights when it comes to a child custody dispute.

Some Tennessee fathers may be able to relate to the story of a 24-year-old California dad. The young father separated from his girlfriend when their son was just six months old. The child is now 19 months old, and the parents have shared custody ever since. Arguments about parenting, however, led a mediator to suggest that the father attend parenting classes.

When it comes to parenting, some states have programs to help new parents. One of these is the Mother-Baby program run by Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, which aids women and children. Fortunately, this program has realized the significance of fathers in parenting, especially the significance of fathers' rights, so the Father Involvement Initiative was born.

Wanting to do the best he could for his son, the young father enrolled in a 13-week class called Fathers I.N.C. The class opened his mind to being a better parent, he said.

The program explains the lifestyle changes that occur to a man once he becomes a father and highlights the significance of cooperation with the mother. The father's former girlfriend is happy with the program, saying that it makes a great difference in how they work together for their child.

Historically, mothers have usually won primary custody of their children, but today courts encourage fathers to be more involved in their children's lives by means of shared parenting. Both divorced and unmarried fathers have the same parental rights as married fathers and may be granted custody, visitation rights and parenting time.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Book of Dreams: Educational materials supplies could help fathers in program," Deb Kollars, Nov. 21, 2012

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