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June 14th, 2012 by Dr. Phil

Be a Dad. Or Just Act Like One.

FDblogBigWe’ve done a lot of shows about dads — absentee dads, dads who are too strict or not strict enough, and even about abusive dads.

Father’s Day is this week, and I’d like to talk about the dads who stick around. The fathers who take their share of the sleepless nights. Those who change diapers without being asked. Fathers who push the stroller and the swings, who stick bandages on skinned knees and who applaud both the kindergarten sing-alongs and the high school drama productions. All you dads who’ve thrown your arm around the shoulder of the new graduate: both of you grinning with pride.

Thanks to all of you! You are giving your children a priceless gift.

By being present — holding out love and support, establishing and maintaining rules and boundaries — you are modeling a vital part of healthy adulthood. You are giving your sons a pattern they can follow; You are showing your daughters what a healthy relationship looks like.

But for some children, their fathers are not present — a mom might be serving as both mother and father, or there may be abuse and neglect in their homes and so they’ve been removed and placed into the foster care system. For these children, having an advocate to make sure they don’t get lost in the social service system or languish in inappropriate foster homes is so important.

Robin and I have been telling you about CASA for Children. CASA for Children provides trained, compassionate Court Appointed Special Advocates who speak for abused and neglected children as they navigate the complexities of the child welfare system.

CASA for Children needs more volunteers — especially men. The children in the foster care system need someone who will keep showing up, someone who will stick by them and advocate for them until their case is settled — until the child is safe in the embrace of a loving family.

It takes 30 hours of training to become a CASA volunteer, half of that can be done online. Once you’re sworn in as an officer of the court, you’ll be assigned a case. You’ll be the voice of a child, in the courtroom and in the community. From the stories our guest bloggers tell, being a CASA volunteer is one of the most rewarding things they’ve ever done.

So this Father’s Day, I challenge you guys: are you man enough to become a CASA volunteer? Robin and I hope you’ll say, “Yes.”

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18 Responses to “Be a Dad. Or Just Act Like One.”

  1. I never had a great relationship with my own father until I became a mother. Between the ages of 13-16 I was placed into over 25 different foster homes most of which were single mothers. It wasn’t until I was living with a good hearted Christian family that I realized the importance of a Dad to make proud and since then I had found Jesus and my heavenly Father. Earlier this year I got married, something I never thought would have been possible, and God blessed me with a wonderful husband and fabulous Dad for my kids. My Father walked me down the isle and making him proud that day was so special. As part of our wedding my partner also dedicated himself and promised my son (from a previous relationship) that he would always have a Dad to encourage him to be the best man God created him to be. I remember bawling my eyes out. Now I have my heavenly father, my real father, a wonderful father-in-law and my kids have as awesome Dad. Thank you Jesus!

  2. Michele says:

    Thank you so much for getting the message out there.

  3. Bonita says:

    I agree that having a male CASA can mean the difference of a young man having a role model, guidance, and a connection to another man or him being lost. It’s the upmost importance for males to come on board. I’ve worked for CASA for 7 yrs and have seen the difference a male CASA can make to a boy/young man who desires to be heard, taught, held, and recognized! If there was ever a need the need is NOW!!!

  4. MJaz says:

    I am CASA volunteer, and I have a story to tell. When I became a CASA volunteer I expected that I would be a dispassionate “overseer” of my child’s case, making sure that she got all the services she deserved and needed, and that would be it. But along with that, I have been a witness to how quickly a child can blossom just from the presence of one steady adult. Even with a degree in psychology and some real world experiences, I never expect to see this. My child – in a mere 6 months, has become a part of me, and I have become a part of her life. To know that when she had a problem recently, I was the first person she called – that was touching. When she invited me to come see her graduation, I was surprised, but when she asked me point blank if I would still be her CASA when she got a new home, and was happy to hear that the choice was hers – THAT brought the realization that I was really doing something worthwhile on a personal level. I never knew what it was like to NOT have strong, stable, responsible and loving adults in my life. What’s amazing is how quickly an individual with those traits can help someone who is less fortunate. CASA is the most wonderful program! Please contact your local authorities to GET it, if you don’t have it, to FUND it as much as possible, and to JOIN US!

  5. Anne says:

    I agree – being a CASA volunteer can be one of the most rewarding things a person can do. We need more people that will speak up for the most vunerable children in our communities.

  6. Richard Allen says:

    I have been a CASA Volunteer for over 5 yrs. It is a wonderful feeling to have made a difference in a boy’s life. I live in the Salinas, Ca. area and there are many mexican families with an absent father. Some families have children from different fathers. These boys need a Man to show them an example of how a Man can honor his commitments and a person who will not abandon them. I fear this is a big part of the gang problem, and it is effecting current and future generations of young men. I don’t know the answer, but I know there are very few men in the CASA program. You can make a difference ! It’s not that hard to do. Take the training and show up for a child
    You will be amazed at how important you are.

  7. Thank you for putting this important information on line for a wide audience of readers. I have been with CASA of Orange County, CA for almost 12 years and have seen so many young lives changed by a CASA. The male CASAs are always in short supply and have such an impact on the boys in the foster care system. The men are great at “doing things.” They are effective at conveying the importance of having goals, planning for a career, and so many other things. And most of all, they are there, being a good role model and nurturing self-esteem and trust! As much as we need male volunteers we also need females so attend an information session. If you volunteer it will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do and it can give hope to a hopeless child.

  8. I’ve been an advocate since 2002 and the advocate manager for our tri-county CASA program since 2006. It’s been my observation over these 10 years that male youth in dependency most often do not have men active in their lives who are good role models, and even though CASA is not a mentorship program we certainly plant plenty of seeds in young minds. Our male volunteers are wonderful examples of what dads should be, but they also advocate DIFFERENTLY than women. Together the mix of men and women advocates is like cream in coffee, a great compliment to each other. Our monthly lunch meetings can get very lively…a rich mix in which each gender learns something from the other in our unending quest to speak for children.

  9. i have tried to volunteer with the victims advocate and do more to see that children have the help they need.

    I live in WV and work with at risk youth and one thing i have noticed is there is no child advocates here. We do have a victims advocate but NO CHILD advocate. So many times i have been working with children who have been raped/molested/abused by people (and many time even family members) which lands them in placements (like where i work) for long term. One thing i have noticed is so many of these children recant their statements (out of fear or not knowing how the proceedings work) so they think they will end up back with the abuser. Luckily i know quite a bit about how things work (due to my passion to want to help them, college courses, awareness of how proceedings work etc.) so i fill them in with any answers that i may have which many times helps them to calm down and focus on their much needed treatment/therapy.

    West Virginia has the highest rate of child abuse/neglect in the country so i dont understand why we dont have a child advocate program or CASA here. I planned on moving to Fla before i found out my mother had cancer and i had already set up a meeting to become CASA certified because i thought the program sounded fantastic but now that that im going to stay here in WV, i’d like to see a program like this started here.

    Any ideas on how we can get this up and going? i have many connections in this field, im sure i could come up with many volunteers, and I KNOW WE NEED IT!!!!!!

    Please help, any info, advice, or reccomendations would be greatly appreciated. I am a survivor and i started a concept yrs ago…PAY IT FORWARD and this is one way that i want to contintue to pay it forward.

    Thanks and blessings to you all!

  10. Kindra says:

    I LOVE CASA and all that they do. I wish I had one growing up. With an absent Dad and incarcerated mother, I lived in foster care growing up and have seen the need for someone to be a voice for these children. I now work for a Christian Radio Network and have the awesome ability to air public affairs interviews for them. I am a huge supporter and encourage anyone that has a little time on thier hands or a legitimate heart for hurting children, to check into the organization to see how you can help. Our kids are worth your time. They are our future. Make a difference. BE A MAN. Or woman.

  11. Chris says:

    I have been a CASA advocate for nearly seven years and have been the voice for many adolescent boys and girls. These children need responsible adults to show them the “other side” of life. When my current youth turned 16-y/o last year, her greatest wish was to go to a theme park! Her wish came true! A CASA can be a mentor, a sounding board, a teacher, a guidance counselor, and a Court-partner. It can be frightening for these children to face their parents in Court; however, with their CASA sitting next to them, the youth feels more comfortable in speaking to the judge. With changes in social workers and placements, a CASA can be the most stabilizing person in the youth’s life: looking over schoolwork, going on outings, etc. I encourage every responsible adult to volunteer 4 hours a week for a foster child in your community.

  12. Adam Groves says:

    I totally agree with the message, be a Dad. I have always been a great father. My question is; how can someone be a father and deal with no community support when he is alienated through hostile-aggressive parenting? It does NOT always take two to fight. The lack of support for the fathers who are the ideal parent is non-existent. Fathers Day is nothing compared to Mothers day. I was the mother and father, where’s my celebration? Society seems to forget those of us good fathers while they complain about the bad ones and ignore the numbers of bad mothers, like in my situation. I have lost my daughter after 8 years of the alienation and mental abuse she is put through by her mother. After 2 years of full time living with me and my wife, paying my child support to her mother while my daughter was living with us, neglect and mental abuse by her mother when she would visit her, with professionals trying to help my daughter, yet no one will step in and do the right thing. I had to step out to prevent her from further mental torture by her mother and her family. Anything from lies to false allegations of abuse, targeting different members of my family. All unsubstantiated and proven fabricated. How am I at fault in any way? How am I a part of the problem? No retaliation would remove me as a part of the fight and makes me a victim. Dr. Phil seems to think it takes two to fight, I would love some advice and explanation to my questions, he is a smart guy but I feel like he’s missing some of his facts on that.

  13. Sally says:

    I watch your show nearly daily and want to say it is so awesome to see you do such good work. The show today with that little girl with severe mental illness was so sad. Helping people with their down times in life IS A TWO-FOLD SUCCESS STORY FOR THEM….AND YOU.. Life can be testy at best and just to have a support system and someone to listen, can make a big difference. You, Robin and your show crew are good people, making a difference in such a confusing world. I know. my mother mentally abused me with a little physical now and then….i became a cutter at 15. now, at 61, i have lung disease and gained 90 lbs i cannot lose, due to kicking the tobacco habit. the more i diet, the more i think about foof, the more i gain. it’s more than disheartening so when i watch your show, it helps me to heal.
    i am not writing on the subject at hand as others above, but wanted to say thank you for all you have done and continue to do helping people. you will be truely missed one day. you are more than just a tv personality…..much more…you are a blessing to people, sent by God. God bless,

  14. Mark says:

    As a father to three children, being a Dad takes on many roles, confidant, friend, disciplinary, encourager etc. It is being whatever the role calls for for the moment and investment for their futures. It is not an easy one yet one thta is rewarding when you see the fruits of your children’s behaviours. My one child received the Ontario Principals Reward and the other two are following suit. I can say being a Dad is all about spending time in all area’s of their lives.

  15. Coen Holweg says:

    I know this is a short reply .
    I love doctor phill and what he does , but unfortunantly its a bit dissapointing its mainly focussed on the US , because apart from the tv show being broadcasted , its pretty hard for Outsiders to get envolved :(

  16. Anita Brito says:

    Dr. Phil, I watch your shows everyday, your show is like a magnet I try to see something else but, I stay on your show…… anyways….talking about fathers ,I never knew my father or seen a picture. There are three sisters and one brother my mother left my dad when I was three years old I am now 62 I went looking for my father back in 2001 and 2002 went to the archives in Austin, Texas which is where I was born. I don’t know if he is alive now, but I sure would like to know if we have other brothers, and sisters, or if they would like to meet us. My mother died in 2002 and told us very little about him, my sisters and brother does not care to know anything about him, but I have never been able to get somebody that I don’t even know out of my mind. His name id Dioniso Morales I think that is how you spell his first name.Dr.Phil please help me find my dad before I leave this world. he was born in 1925 or 1924 I think he was one year older than mom. If you can Dr. Phil I would be in debt to you…..if you are not able to then that will be ok to…..I will continue to watch your show. It doesn’t matter if I go on your show, I just want to meet my other family I don’t know nothing about….thanks Dr. Phil….

  17. Douglas Mann says:

    Thanks for the word about CASA. I have worked with some and they are great. I am a liscensed treatment foster dad. I have never been married or had my own children. Some friends of mine asked me to give a child a home, knowing we would be a good match. After training and home study, background checks etc; being a foster parent has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life ever. It’s not always easy, but what is? My dad was a good father. Foster care gets a bad rap in a lot of places. But there are many victory stories out there too. Because of preserving the dignity of the kids involved, they do not always get publicity. About 10k teenagers in Maryland alone need a safe home.
    And don’t over look single men or women that may have the time and resources, it is very fulfilling.

  18. Sally says:

    I have nothing but the utmost respect when seeing fathers step up to the plate no matter if they are divorced or married and watch them take a hands on and active role in raising and molding their children’s life. I have been a licensed therapist for over 12 years now and I used to think that the bond a child has with their mother was more important but now I see that a child who has a strong male role model, takes an active role in the upbringing is so important. As a single mother raising my daughter on her own, it saddens me when she sees the other fathers pick their kids up from school or attend father daughter functions. I am blessed to have her grandfather attend these functions. I have seen first hand the devastation that can be caused to our children who so desperately want their fathers love and affection. Gone are the old ideas that it is only a fathers responsibility to put food on the table and pay the bills. To all of the fathers who read their children to sleep, attend their games, build up their self esteem, my hats off to you dads.

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