Sample: First module of the two-CE online course “Helping Men Give and Get All the Love They Can”
Where we begin
This course is for social workers and other helping professionals who wish to engage men and fathers more fully in services and programs for children, families and communities. It provides you with ideas and information that you will find helpful and perhaps even exciting. It is written primarily with family support, community development, child protection and family preservation agencies in mind, yet we expect it to be helpful to social workers and other helping professionals in all realms of service and practice.
If you are unsure of the value of engaging men and fathers in programs and services for children, families and communities, a good, no-cost, easily accessible primer on the topic is The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children, by Jeffrey Rosenberg and W. Bradford Wilcox (2006), published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, available online at childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/fatherhood.pdf.
There is also a good amount of information on the social value of men and fathers at workingwellwithmen.com/research.
Beside the importance of fathers in the healthy development of children, there are other important themes in this course:
Fatherhood can be good for fathers’ emotional and social health.
Emotionally and socially healthy fathers can be good as partners to mothers.
Good partnerships between mothers and fathers can be good for children.
A community of emotionally and socially healthy men, to which respect for fatherhood is key, can be good for communities in general.
Is this course about men or is it about fathers?
Fatherhood is a central issue for all men, whether they have children or not, just as economic opportunity is central to all women, whether they want careers in business or not. Economic opportunity for women requires recognition of women’s abilities to manage, lead and think critically, abilities that women were thought not to have and whose supposed lack negatively impacted women’s lives in multiple ways, not just as businesspeople. Similarly, parenting opportunity for men requires recognition of men’s abilities to be empathic, kind, generous and nurturing — abilities that in large measure men are still thought not to have and whose supposed lack negatively impacts men’s lives in multiple ways, not just as fathers.
The course, therefore, is about all men — with fatherhood as its central theme.
What about boys?
Undoubtedly there is value in programs focusing on boys, especially boys of color, such as President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” effort and related initiatives.
But along with having thousands of helping professionals trying to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of boys, another good strategy may be to have thousands of helping professionals addressing the needs of hundreds of thousands of adult men who can then directly and indirectly help millions of boys — and girls — by creating a healthier psychosocial environment for our young people’s growth and development. Boys are often in the midst of internal adolescent and teenage turmoil, to say nothing of the problems wrought be the social chaos and dysfunction in which many of them live. Working with them can be like trying to light a candle in a tornado. Adult men from the age of about thirty on up, on the other hand, are often much calmer and more sure of their direction in life and are often clear about what they wish they had known when they were younger. Many of them are ready, eager and able to do some good. Imagine how things might be different for boys — and girls — if the men in your community were more fully encouraged, supported and honored for making Love the central focus of their lives.
As you work your way through this course, please keep in mind this especially relevant Core Value from the NASW Code of Ethics:
Value: Importance of Human Relationships Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships. Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organizations, and communities.
Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Approved by the 1996 NASW Delegate Assembly and revised by the 2008 NASW Delegate Assembly. www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp.
In 1997, feminist leader Gloria Steinem wrote, “Over the last 25 years, we’ve convinced ourselves and a majority of the country that women can do what men can do. Now we have to convince the majority of the country — and ourselves — that men can do what women can do.”
Gloria Steinem (1997). Revving up for the next 25 years. Ms. Magazine, 8 (2) September/October, 82-84. p. 82.
Have we achieved Gloria Steinem’s vision? Are men as accepted in family and nurturing roles as women are accepted in business? Do we think about full-time, stay-at-home fathers as readily as we think about women as lawyers, judges, doctors, business executives, airline pilots, astronauts and soldiers? Do we talk about “men and children” as easily as we talk about “women and children”? This course suggests that the answer to these questions is clearly “no” and that we still have much work to do. This course considers lingering stereotypes about men that may be impeding our progress. It also provides suggestions for moving forward once the stereotypes have been addressed.
We hope you find the course interesting and helpful as you strive to make your agency or practice the best it can be. We look forward to reading your evaluation and feedback.