Robert Agnoli, domestic violence program coordinator and Fatherhood in Action program manager for The Salvation Army, is a licensed clinical social worker and certified partner abuse intervention professional with more than 25 years providing counseling to individuals and families. He developed a program to address men’s use of violence towards women partners. He serves on several Illinois task forces to address domestic violence.
Father’s Day is often filled with barbeques, rounds of golf, handmade cards and the occasional ugly tie. It’s a time for families to spend together, enjoying each other’s company and showing appreciation for the men who helped shaped lives of those they love.
It also offers us an opportunity to reflect on the importance fathers and father figures play in the lives of children. Children who don’t have an active father in their lives are at greater risk for physical violence, poor academic performance, poverty, and negative relationships. Active fathers depict healthy relationships by working in a civil and respectful manner with the mother of their children, provide child support and offer encouragement to succeed academically. When a child’s parents are able to work together they can protect their children from a number of vulnerabilities. Fathers who are engaged with their children – whether living with or apart from their children – help foster a child’s healthy physical, emotional and social development.
The Salvation Army offers the Fatherhood in Action program to help men grow into strong father figures. Many of the men who enroll in the program have been estranged from their children for many years. This could be for several reasons: addiction, incarceration, family upbringing and more. This can leave children never knowing their fathers and men being unsure of how to create a connection with a child that they may have only seen as an infant.
The Salvation Army’s Fatherhood in Action program teaches men what it means to be an active and engaged father and how to work productively with the child’s mother. The program organizes small events such as picnics where families can spend quality time together and develop the skills introduced during group sessions. When parents are able to effectively work together and remain actively invested in their child’s future we know that this will help those children create a strong foundation as they become parents in the future.
For more information on Fatherhood in Action, call 773.735.6773.