Convicts Make Parenting a Priority for a Day

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I don’t know a good parent who hasn’t had a moment of doubt about his or her parenting skills. For most of us, every day is a new opportunity to do better. I get a chance to apologize for snapping when I’m having a bad day, to fix a more nutritional meal after putting too many processed foods on one plate (it can happen) and even to ask for forgiveness and turn some things around. Every parent is not as fortunate though. There are some moms and dads who are incarcerated and would cherish the opportunity to have another chance to get it right.

A woman in Richmond, Va., has started a wonderful program for dads in prison and their daughters. Angela Patton runs Camp Diva, a non-profit group aimed at empowering young girls.

She recently held a father/daughter dance after hearing one of the girl’s concerns about having a father in jail. According to the news story, the young girl wanted to attend an event where she could dance with her father, and Angela Patton made it happen.

The dads were provided with suits, ties and dress shoes and the girls in bright dresses were escorted to them through the steel mechanical doors.

I can’t imagine having been physically separated from my dad as a little girl. Just knowing that he was coming home every night and was never much farther than a hug away and watching the way he treated my mom, my sister and me, certainly shaped the kind of girl I was and the woman I became. No situation is perfect, but there is study after study supporting the importance of male role models in the lives of girls. When girls go from a fatherless home into a romantic or sexual relationship with boys or men, they are more likely to have the wrong expectations about the roles of all men in their lives. Girls need to have at least one relationship with one male who loves them unconditionally with no physical interest. In homes headed by single moms, this male could be an older brother, an uncle or a grandfather.

So, even if the fathers of the daughters who participated in the dance don’t have constant contact, limited positive interaction can go a long way.

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