Thursday, December 31, 2009

Raising Girls

Here's a new PBS special. Guess I won't watch it tonight, but I'll catch it on the web sometime soon.

in reference to: A Girl's Life . Raising Girls . PBS Parents | PBS (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Garry Mendez' Words of Wisdom

On December 10, 2009, Garry Mendez and his wife Juanita shared their experience and perspective working with long-term prisoners. Garry's goal is to build a community of incarcerated leaders who can work with their peers. He believes that unless African American men take responsibility for their families and their communities, the trend will continue until one in three African American men are incarcerated.

One of Garry's thought provoking comments is "Forget about changing the system. It takes too long. Focus on changing people."

In his work with the National Trust for the Development of African American Men, Garry wastes no time negotiating for the right room, time slot, number of participants, funding, or anything else. Work with what the terms the prison administration dictates and get down to business.

And, above all, don't do for the men who participate in your programs. They are resourceful and must make their own plans. They can find ways to father their children from prison, find a place to live and a job in anticipation of release, and can give back to the community they have wronged. You are there to help them if they want help, share how things are done in the rest of the world, and cheer them on. But the program, as well as their individual plans, have to be their own.

But, to start them on that road, you have to listen to their stories. Many of them have never had the opportunity to talk about the whys and hows of their lives. We all need that opportunity; that's where change begins.

Thanks Garry and Juanita for a wonderful conversation.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Letters - Losing Fatherhood -

Read the follow-up letters to the NY Times Magazine article on DNA testing, Losing Fatherhood. You'll find a few different perspectives, but most acknowledge that it is protecting the child from the devastating loss of a relationship with the father they know that should be our first concern.

Letters - Losing Fatherhood - "Preserving the nonbiological father’s and, more important, the child’s right to their relationship would shield the child from the catastrophic effects of a father’s desertion that often is motivated, in large part, by dollars and cents. Moreover, permitting the mother to retain an unfair bargaining chip against the father — threatening to sever the relationship unless the father continues to pay support — empowers the perpetrator of the fraud over the victim a second time.

Huntington, N.Y."
What are your thoughts?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How DNA Testing Is Changing Fatherhood -

The NY Times magazine recently published a long, thoughtful article on the complexities that DNA testing has introduced into the issues of fatherhood, child support, and the child's best interests.

How does the NYS court system regard these issues? And, as a professional in the field of human services, what do you think about the conflicts this article describes? Are those the same feelings you have as a father?

How DNA Testing Is Changing Fatherhood - "In an age of DNA, when biological relationships can be identified with certainty, it can seem absurd to hew so closely to a centuries-old idea of paternity. And yet basing paternity decisions solely on genetics places the nonbiological father’s welfare above the child’s. Phil Reilly, a lawyer who is also a clinical geneticist, has been wrestling with the policy implications of DNA testing for years, and even he is stumped about how society should manage the problem that men like Mike face. “We’re at a point in our society where the DNA molecule is ascendant, and it’s very much in the public’s consciousness that this is a powerful way to identify relationships,” Reilly says. “Yet at the same time, more people than ever are adopting children, showing that parents can very much love a child who is not their own. The difference here for many men is the combination of hurt and rage over the deceit, the fact that they’re twice beaten. I can see both sides of this argument. As a nation, we’re still in search of what the most ethical policy should be. Every solution is imperfect.”"
Read the whole article -- if you work in the fatherhood field it's well worth the time. Tell us what you think.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Conversation with Garry Mendez, Dec. 10th

Photo: Lil Wayne, rapper, facing a year behind bars for possession of illegal firearms

Dr. Garry Mendez has been troubled by some statistics for a long time.  The Pew Foundation recently published a study that indicated one in every hundred American citizens is incarcerated.

But Garry knows that incarceration is not an equal opportunity phenomenon. One in eight African-American males between 18 and 30 are incarcerated. If this trend continues, it wil soon be one in three.

Garry founded the National Trust for the Development of African-American Men to turn the trend around.

Garry Mendez is visiting family and friends in the Hudson Valley next week and has agreed to spend some time with us talking about his values-driven work with prisoners, the formerly incarcerated, and their families.

Join us:
Thursday afternoon, Dec. 10th at 2pm
Child Find of America Offices (Across from Lowe's)
21 S. Elting Corners Road
New Paltz, NY

Please drop Donna Linder an email or call her (845-883-6060) to RSVP so we set up for the right number of people.

Prior to founding The Trust, Dr. Mendez was a National Institute of Justice Fellow and developed the Crime Prevention programs for the National Urban League. Dr. Mendez received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, his M.A. from the Bank Street College of Education and his B.A. from Hobart College.
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