15th Annual New England Fathering Conference Explores the 21st Century Dad

This year’s 15th  annual  New England Fathering Conference brought together hundreds  of  fatherhood practitioners, early education and care professionals, home visiting programs, human service providers, representatives from state agencies including child support, criminal justice and child welfare, as well as over 75 dads. ACF Regional Administrator Mary Ann Higgins gave welcoming remarks  highlighting the importance of healthy  dads in the 21st century and  encouraging enrollment in health insurance through healthcare.gov by March 31, 2014. 

ACF Region I staff  helped plan the event and served as presenters on healthy relationships and emergency preparedness. The lively presentations by keynote speakers offered engaging perspectives on fathering issues. Chef Jeff shared that he found his passion for cooking while  incarcerated. Ultimately his journey of redemption and perseverance led him to the top of the restaurant industry and as a feature chef on the Food Network. Carrie Contey, Ph.D. gave an overview of research on early brain development and outlined practical advice for parents on understanding what’s going on in a young child’s mind and how to respond accordingly. Matt Crews and Nigel Vann from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse explored the meaning of being a 21st Century Dad in a panel that utilized real-time social media.

Each year the conference features opportunities for dads to tell their stories and share insights. Luis Galíndez-García, pictured above on the left with Andre Green, read aloud an original poem he wrote for his children, moving many in the audience to tears:

Copyright © 2013 Luis Galíndez-García . Used with permission.

by Luis Galíndez-García
Translated from the Spanish by Karla Caballeros

I do not promise to keep you, my children, from stumbling in life, nor to be next to you to assist you when you fall, lest my excessive protection hinder you and make you dependent
But I do promise to be there to take care of your wounds
I do not promise you, my children, that I will hand down my experiences to you; you need your own experiences, in your own flesh
But I promise to be available when you request my advice
I do not promise you, my children, to solve all your problems—even though I would do anything for you; solutions are more often in your own hands than in mine
But I promise to help you in any way possible when you need to vent
I do not promise you, my children, to prevent your suffering; I cannot blind you to reality; sometimes suffering is necessary to learn to be strong
But I promise to offer my shoulder, when you need comfort
I do not promise to give you, my children, everything you want
But I promise to give you what is necessary
I do not promise you, my children, that you will always be the center of my attention; I need to attend to other issues, as well—both for your welfare and for that of the whole family

But I promise not to neglect you and to devote special time just for you
I do not promise you, my children, that I will be liked by you at all times; you may not like what I say or what I do; I have an obligation to lead you in the right way  
But I promise not to humiliate you when I discipline you
Remember, my children: I do not promise to be by your side forever; I am mortal as any other human being
But I promise to teach you that there is an Eternal Father, to whom you can turn at any time
I do not promise to be the perfect dad
But I promise to put all my love into the attempt

por Luis Galíndez-García

No prometo a mis hijos impedir que tropiecen en la vida, ni estar pegado para asistirles en la caída.  Pues les estorbaría mi excesiva protección, y les haría extremadamente dependientes 
Pero prometo estar ahí para cuidar sus raspones
No prometo a mis hijos heredarles mi experiencia.  No podría ser suya.  Tendrían que adquirirla en carne propia
Pero prometo estar disponible cuando soliciten mis consejos 
No prometo a mis hijos solucionar sus problemas, aunque lo haría todo por ustedes.  La solución suele estar en sus propias manos y no en las mías
Pero prometo ayudarles en lo posible cuando quieran desahogarse 
No prometo a mis hijos evitarles sufrimientos, no puedo cegarles a la realidad, porque a veces sufrir es necesario para aprender a ser fuerte 
Pero prometo ofrecerles mi hombro, cuando necesiten consuelo
No prometo a mis hijos darles todo lo que quieran
Pero prometo darles lo necesario
No prometo a mis hijos que serán el centro de mi atención pues necesito también atender otros asuntos por su bienestar y el de toda la familia
Pero prometo no descuidarlos y dedicarles tiempo especial solo para ustedes
No prometo caerles bien en todo momento. Muchas veces no les gustará lo que diga o lo que haga, porque tengo la obligación de guiarlos por el camino correcto
Pero prometo no humillarlos cuando les corrija 
Recuerden, no les prometo estar a su lado para siempre, pues soy mortal como cualquier ser humano
Pero prometo enseñarles que hay un Padre que sí es eterno a quien podrán acudir en cualquier momento
No les prometo ser el padre perfecto
Pero prometo poner todo mi amor en el intento