A Chicago community organization is actively working to make sure that non-custodial fathers are involved in the lives of their children, making the children less likely to turn to crime, drug abuse, or other destructive behaviors. The non-profit organization called Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities has sponsored picnics and other fun events designed to allow fathers without child custody to spend quality time with their children. The group also sponsors meetings concerning topics such as education, employment, and child support, which are issues that often prevent the fathers from gaining custody or visitation rights with their children. The meetings also function as a form of peer support for the men. The ultimate aim of the group is to get the fathers involved in their children’s lives so to prevent the occurrence of gang violence, drug abuse, and other social problems that often occur in low-income, high crime areas.
Gang violence and teenage pregnancy are among the issues that the group hopes to prevent by facilitating the involvement of fathers and strengthening family bonds. Children with active parental supervision and involvement are less likely to get involved in gangs or to engage in teenage sexual activity. In this way, the group hopes that getting fathers involved will improve the community by curbing risky teenage behaviors.
One way for fathers to remain active in the lives of their children is for both parents to work together to set up a system of joint custody and a system of visitation, even though the two are separated. This would allow both parents to be involved in their children’s lives and for the children to spend time with their parents. It is also good for the emotional health of the children, in that they do not miss either parent or suffer from feelings of neglect or abandonment.
Divorcing or separating parents have the legal option to set up a system of joint custody, or to seek sole custody if one partner is unable or unwilling to adequately perform his or her parenting duties. They also have the option to set up a system of visitation that is in the best interests of the child. In this way, divorced or separated parents have the legal ability to make the separation as painless as possible for the children.
Source: ABC 7 News, WLS-TV Chicago, “Stop the violence: Group connects fathers, kids,” Ron Magers and Sylvia Jones, June 21, 2013