As we are always looking for better ways to accomplish our Center’s mission, one idea has continuously stood out: deciding to be intentional about welcoming men as clients. Research, both from CareNet National as well as the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, indicate that the most influential person in a woman’s decision to abort or welcome her child is the baby’s father.
He is usually the first person she tells about her pregnancy and his reaction, coupled with her perception of whether or not he will be a good parent and support their child, is a crucial factor in the choice she’s making. Currently, if a man comes in with his partner, she is considered our client and he is her guest. We ask him to wait in the reception area, and our staff attempts to engage him casually and help make him comfortable while he waits. Occasionally the client asks for him to join her later in her appointment for follow up questions or to view the ultrasound.
While we always treat him with respect, we have not treated him as our client. The experience of other Centers who are actively employing a men’s ministry program indicates this has been a mistake. When the father of the baby is welcomed into the Center as a client and provided with a similar experience as the pregnant woman, an experience that focuses on his unique concerns and needs, he is equipped to be a positive voice in his partner’s choice.
Consequently, when he encourages a life-affirming decision through his words and actions, she is much more likely to choose to welcome their baby into the world. Research has shown that more than 80% of post-abortive women have stated they would have chosen to carry to term if they would have had life-affirming support from the father of their baby.
A shift in our methodology to welcoming men as clients will require an intentional investment on our part. We are confident that investment in our people, our training, our Center and our clients will advance our mission – to drastically reduce the number of lives lost to and affected by abortion. Earlier this year CareNet Dickson began developing a men’s ministry program. We are adopting the initiative as our “Joseph Project.” The name, originally coined by CareNet National, comes from the nativity story and how God wisely prepared not just a mother, but also a father for the coming of the baby Jesus.
From a human perspective, the entrance of our Savior into the world was not only unplanned, but also unexpectedly complicated. Despite the circumstances, it was not only Mary, but Joseph as well who stepped out in faith in acceptance of the gift they had been given.
Our client’s children were not conceived immaculately; however they are still known and loved by God. Research shows that the best environment for them to grow up in is a safe, loving and healthy household led by both a mom and a dad. Our female clients need their partners to be like Joseph and join them in faith on an unknown parenting journey. Many of these men have never had anyone speak a message of life-affirming compassion, hope and help into their lives – and we aim to do just that.
We believe a present and involved father is an important piece of the well-being of every child. Read the following statistics; did you know?
· Children who grow up without a dad are twice as likely to die before his/her first birthday.
· Children who grow up without a dad have a 77% greater chance of being physically abused.
· Children who grow up without a dad are 20% more likely to be sexually abused.
· Children who grow up without a dad have a harder time interacting socially.
· Children who grow up without a dad are 4x more likely to live in poverty.
· Girls who grow up without a dad are 7x more likely to experience a teen pregnancy.
· 85% of imprisoned youth lack a father’s presence in their lives.
· Children who have closer relationships with their dads show a significantly lower level of psychological distress.
DADS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Would you pray with us about this life-changing opportunity to make a life-inspiring difference in the lives of men in our community? Would you be willing to pray about partnering with us as we begin the launch of the Joseph Project? We need volunteers who are willing to meet with these men and offer them life-affirming mentorship. This will include options-counseling and follow-up throughout the pregnancy of their partner as well as teaching classes.
This project will also require additional funding as we began to acquire men’s curriculum to accompany our current MARY program and equip these men with the knowledge and skills they need to be good dads.
We look forward to the opportunity we have to minster to men in our community and hope you will partner with us in whatever capacity you may feel led. Please feel free to contact the Center with any questions or concerns you may have.