Charles Clayton Daniels, Jr., CEO and founder of Fathers’ Uplift, is in the process of transitioning his theory about how to strengthen families.
Prior to networking with USBC Legacy Award Recipient and CEO of Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) Kimarie Bugg, MSN, MPH, CLC, IBCLC at a ROSE Breastfeeding Conference, Daniels admits to not often involving mothers in his approach.
He calls it a “great awakening” when he realized the importance of “understanding what’s going on with the mother[s].”
What’s more, Daniels says that he’s been adopted into the breastfeeding movement.
“It’s so important that we educate our fathers about breastfeeding and its significance and how to support it in a positive way,” he says.
John J. King, Jr., a Fathers’ Uplift client, recently completed the Lactation Counselor Training Course. Daniels reports that King “learned a lot.” Daniels plans to complete the training too. He’s interested in learning how to actively and positively support breastfeeding women.
“…If I would have known what I know now, I would have been more supportive to my wife when she was trying to breastfeed,” Daniels says. “Given my own transition into fatherhood, I don’t think I was mentally available to be of service the way I could have been.”
Daniels started Fathers’ Uplift in 2011 as a weekly support group as a part of his Albert Schweitzer fellowship project.
Since its infancy, the organization has Uplifted close to 150 fathers. Seventy-five percent of those fathers still actively engage with their children. Five percent go on to become program mentors. [http://fathersuplift.org/fathers/]
So what does it mean to be Uplifted? Becoming Uplifted is an ongoing process, but the organization provides a three month period of formal treatment; the strengthening of families through coaching, therapy, case management, and group work, Daniels explains.
The organization offers Pre-Father Care, a model that involves “constant check-ins, encouragement, and motivation.” The Fathers’ Uplift website features Pre-Father Care supporters in digital storytelling videos. The raw, honest videos give an unfiltered view of the organization’s clients’ realties.
A huge part of Daniels’ and his team’s mission involves forgiveness and teaching fathers how to “parent themselves.”
They help fathers “break down forgiveness and actually put it to work.”
Practical forgiveness can come in external and internal forms, Daniels says. Someone working toward forgiveness may not be able to approach that person and say, Hey, I forgive you, but he or she might affirm internally, This person hurt me, but I will not allow that to govern me.
Daniels also focuses on guiding fathers to release themselves from their own choices and the choices of others.
In fact, Daniels forgave his own father for his absence when he realized that his self-worth was not rooted in his father’s choices.
“I’m not what he did to me,” Daniels says.
The same holds true for self-forgiveness.
Daniels works to help his clients navigate and adopt an appropriate way to make amends that will keep them safe and present for the people they love.
Once their clients have forgiven and developed a sense of self-worth, Charles and his team help transition their clients into the community.
“By finding value within yourself, you know how to escape the wounds of pain, guilt and shame and develop self esteem,” Daniels explains.
This makes it easier for them to “become a part of a community of people who value [them.]”
As part of their program, Fathers’ Uplift partners with the Boston Children’s Museum. The museum provides a space to bring fathers who may not have the opportunity to engage with their children in a positive environment.
Fathers’ Uplift leads two visits to the museum. The first is structured to provide support to the father as he works to engage with his children.
“There might be some anxiety there,” Daniels explains. “We try to help him overcome that.”
The second trip provides an opportunity for the family to “have a blast” and build memories.
Daniels says that he loves all of the dads that he works with. One father’s story he recalls illustrates well the purpose of his organization: “When he first met me, he was coming out of jail. His main concern was that his environment wasn’t conducive to where he was trying to go in his life. Despite the conflict he has with his children’s mother, I can honestly say he has learned how to communicate with [her]. Now he’s getting ready to start an apprenticeship… He has a clear trajectory, having a career and being a part of his kids’ lives…He’s learned to deviate from conflict in his relationship. It brings tears to my eyes.”