Dads Are the Difference

No one says being a dad is easy. But most everyone says it’s important.

By Crystal Perkins

No one says being a dad is easy. But most everyone says it’s important.


Let me throw some statistics at you:


When a child’s father is involved in their lives, the child

Has better, healthier relationships

Has better emotional health and control

Has better physical health

Is less likely to become addicted to substances

Is more likely to feel safe and more confident

Has better odds of academic success

Is more likely to stay out of trouble and

Is four times less likely to live in poverty at some time in their youth*


The above represent good reasons to be involved with your child. But for 33 percent of children in the United States, their biological father is absent.

You may not know the best way to be a dad. It’s not your fault. You may not have had your own dad in your life, or maybe he wasn’t that good at it. Until the last couple of generations, dads weren’t expected to really be engaged with their kids. Things like thoughtful discipline, playing, teaching, and answering questions —were all “mom jobs.” You learn a lot of parenting on the fly, but if your own dad was good at showing you how to do things as you grew up, you have some background and knowledge that you can apply when you have a family yourself. When dad’s not there, you are missing out on someone to teach you important things.

There are other ways to get that experience. St. Joseph Parenting Center, with offices in Danbury and Stamford, offers the “Dads Are The Difference” program. It helps dads learn the skills that will help them help their kids.

We connect fathers in a safe space to share their experiences and learn about their crucial role as parents. The program consists of 21 parenting classes with topics ranging from learning healthy communication, co-parenting strategies, child development, discipline strategies, budgeting, and employment readiness skills. All our services are offered in English and Spanish.

Sure, 21 classes is a lot. You don’t learn how to be a good dad in a couple of hours. And the program — which is free for all — also offers case management for each father with counseling, advocacy, and connections to community resources. So, you aren’t doing this alone. Your kids get a treat, too: a gift after you attend 10 and 20 classes.

If you think you could learn more about being a good dad, contact Maria Abril, SJPC case manager, at (203) 273-5622 or, or visit St. Joseph Parenting Center at (If you have a good handle on the whole dad thing, contact us about helping to teach the courses!) You’ll be making a difference for you and your kids.

Our next cohort is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, July 5, at 6 p.m.

Crystal Perkins is the Center Director for the Saint Joseph Parenting Center office in Danbury. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at (203)273-5622 or


*excerpted from Urban Light Ministries