Up until recently, fathers have mostly been out of the parental picture. However, more men are staying home with the children, and with the rate of divorce in American, there are more and more men becoming single fathers.
Although this alone is challenging, the task of being a single parent becomes all the more daunting when you’re also trying to stay sober.
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations, both in Los Angeles, as well as throughout the country that are focusing on men and their role as parents.
Part of this initiative was prompted by the need to curb domestic violence as well as abuse of children, which is often fed by addictions and alcohol and/or drug abuse.
Sadly, for those families whose fathers have left because of homelessness, imprisonment, or addiction, studies show that children without fathers are more likely to live in poverty, participate in substance abuse, experience truancy from school or drop out, develop emotional or behavioral problems, or be incarcerated.
With the presence of participating fathers who are nurturing and loving in a family structure, children have more of a chance of thriving and living in health. For this reason, community resources are looking at ways to strengthen the relationships within families, both between parents as well as the relationship parents have with their children. And, part of the initiative to foster healthy family relationships is to keep men sober so that they can loving and caring fathers.
The Effects of Addiction on The Family
For instance, a family of five living in Los Angeles is making their way, inch by inch, towards sobriety. Joshua, age 43, the father of four children has been an alcoholic for 24 years.
It was shortly after he married Susan, age 40, that he started to drink more heavily. His drinking didn’t become destructive, as addictions do, until three years later when Susan had the first of their four children. Susan’s attention went to the children and not him.
On top of that, it was the growing pressure to financially provide for his family. Over time his drinking began to affect the family, which eventually included Susan’s decision to leave the marriage. Over the years, as the children got older, and as everyone in the family got used to Josh’s addiction, certain family roles began to develop.
This included the way they related to one another. No one really knew how to talk about the elephant in the room, and their relationships became co-dependent and dysfunctional.
Today, Joshua and his children continue to attend family therapy. Joshua is learning about his addiction while the children are learning how addiction created a feeling of powerlessness in them too, not only in their father. As therapy continues, as Josh remains sober, and as he continues to attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, this Los Angeles family will find their way to long-term sobriety.
However, there are some additional resources, especially for single fathers in the Los Angeles area. These are resources that can strengthen family ties, empower single fathers and his children, and provide families with the support they need. For instance, the Children’s Institute, Inc. of Los Angeles (CII) aims to assist families who experience violence and to strengthen their relationships so that violence is no longer a part of their daily experience.
Their community initiative called “Fatherhood” is meant to aide in the building of relationships between fathers and their children, as well as the relationships they have with their spouses. They offer the community the following services:
- year around, open-ended groups; allowing fathers to attend groups as necessary.
- counseling services
- employment assistance
- financial literacy
- legal consultation
- parent-child enrichment activities
- individual care coordination is provided to the fathers to help navigate systems and find community resources.
Other Los Angeles Resources for Single Fathers Include
- National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute
- National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
- The President’s Fatherhood Initiative
- Responsible Fatherhood Roundtable Event
- Elements of Promising Practice in Teen Fatherhood Programs
- Young Dads Program, Friends of the Family
- Project Fatherhood,
- Operation Life,
- Fatherhood Journey
- 24/7 Dad Youth Speak Collective
- Positive Parenting for Padres
- My Child Says Daddy
It’s important for fathers to think of the long-term with regard to the development of their children and how an addiction can get in the way of having a healthy father-child relationship. For this reason, it’s also important that single fathers know about the resources that are available in their area, such as the ones provided above, especially those resources that can keep them sober and clean for their children.
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