But if you have imperfections – and want to be the best dad you can be – Montrose County has some solutions.
A program called Empowering Dads has been federally funded for five years to the tune of about $250,000 per year that provides counseling, workshops, groups, classes, outings, parenting skills and more, even how to get along with your ex.
Empowering Dads is offered exclusively to Montrose County fathers, married or single, who want to learn more about how to be a better father. Male role models, such as uncles, boyfriends or granddads are also welcome to the program, which is sponsored by Montrose County Health and Human Services.
The fathering program offers all kinds of services dads might need, including mediation with a former spouse, legal issues and the ins and outs of child support.
Sometimes dads need help with substance abuse, and a team approach and one-to-one counseling will provide a healthy path for them to follow, including a men’s group of former drug abusers that meets weekly.
Chris Martin, Cynthia Harwood and Joe Fockler are all fathering coaches in the Empowering Dads program at Montrose HHS, each with varied backgrounds that all involve counseling.
Martin is a former teacher, Harwood has a background in social work and Fockler, the newest coach, was a pastor for 12 years.
If a dad or male role model has a problem with meth or any other addictive substance, all he has to do is call 252-5000 and ask for the fathering program or Empowering Dads, Fockler said. Calls will be sent to one of the three coaches.
“The main thing we’re looking for is referrals and getting guys to come through on a regular basis,” Fockler said. “But they’ve got to be motivated somehow, and typically what brings them in is some type of crisis.”
Empowering Dads is ready to help in times of crisis or any other time, he said.
“We offer classes and for some we offer one-on-one coaching,” he said. “With those two components we can take them to a place from passive involvement to active involvement, to thinking about what it means to be a good dad and be involved with their kids.”
Empowering Dads is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is in its third year in Montrose County, currently serving about 250 men, Harwood said.
“Some are very active and we see them almost weekly, and others we see once or twice, and some just call for information,” she said.
The program is entirely voluntary, Harwood said, and although local courts cannot make court-ordered referrals to Empowering Dads, brochures have been placed in the county Justice Center.
Harwood conducts parenting classes that last for 20 sessions that talks about everything from parenting to drugs and alcohol, discipline and behavior, values, communication and managing conflict and anger, she said.
“Great dads who are doing well probably don’t need our services, but a lot of dads have issues over child support or conflict with the child’s mother,” she said. “We have other types of classes that have to do with healthy communication.”
One class, called Nuts and Bolts, teaches dads about their legal rights and responsibilities as a father, she said, because “some dads don’t know how to navigate the system.”
After initially taking some information from the dad, the coaches have a staff meeting and then one of the coaches meets with the dad individually, Harwood said.
“We each have a caseload and are an advocate for dads,” she said.
It all comes down to the kids, Harwood said, and sometimes that means working with an ex-spouse through co-parenting classes or mediation.
“They may not like each other, but they can learn to work together for the child’s sake,” she said. “It’s all about the children and helping them be the best dads they can be.”
It’s not just all classes, groups or counseling, though, Harwood said, and kids and dads enjoy outings like snowshoeing in Black Canyon with the Forest Service or going on a hike this weekend to Dominguez Canyon.
“A lot of dads don’t have a good idea of what to do with kids besides sit beside the TV,” she said.
Empowering Dads also networks with a lot of other agencies, such as Uncompahgre Volunteer Legal Aid, run by Patty Bennett of Ridgway.
“A lot of dads need legal advice, but Patty’s program they have to be income eligible, but we can refer them to clinics and workshops she puts on,” Harwood said.
There is no charge for the services offered by Empowering Dads, Harwood said, and it’s fitting that dads have this help since the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day is June 21.
The public is invited to celebrate fathers at the fourth annual Men in the Mix event at the Corn Festival Park in Olathe on June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Empowering Dads the Montrose School District Early Education Program, Delta Montrose Electric Association and Montrose County.
The event is free to the public and includes activities like a dunk tank, water balloon toss, free hot dogs and refreshments, karaoke and a climbing wall, to name a few, and every booth will have brochures on parenting.
“The idea is to have fun and learn how to laugh and bond with your child,” Harwood said.