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Engaged fathers lead to stronger families

Bethany led a two-day training for fathers in Ethiopia.

Leena Hill, Vice President of Global Services

ethiopian father sitting with two children on his lap

Families around the world need support to keep their children out of orphanages and safe from exploitation. That’s why Bethany is working with families across the globe to strengthen them and keep them together.

Our Ethiopia team shared this example of a successful training that’s encouraging fathers to take a more active role in their kids’ lives.

Raising children is a demanding job, and parents in Ethiopia know the challenges well. Like many countries where men are unquestioned as head of the household, Ethiopia has longstanding cultural norms that define a father’s role primarily as breadwinner. Traditionally fathers have little involvement with their children or in the rhythm of daily life in the home.

While working with families enrolled in our family preservation program, Bethany’s Ethiopia team recognized that inviting fathers to become more engaged with their children would lead to stronger families.

Recently, financial partners made it possible for Bethany to offer a two-day training for 20 fathers. The training featured collaborative discussions led by fatherhood experts as well as a Bethany caseworker who recently became a dad. The men learned approaches to caregiving that are sensitive to children’s age and development and were coached to prioritize positive corrections for their children over disciplinary actions.

Along with the training, the fathers learned from each other’s unique experiences. One father shared that he has a daughter who has special needs. He lovingly brings her with him wherever he goes, despite how others react. In Ethiopia, physical disabilities carry great stigma, and children with disabilities are often relinquished to orphanages. This father’s story became a moving example of a new approach to fatherhood.

The fathers reflected on their experience:

  • “I realized I am repeating the parenting style my father followed decades ago. I definitely need to change and begin fresh.” 
  • “I am so sad that I never invited my wife and children to speak their minds and make decisions for themselves. I’ve learned to listen much more.” 
  • “Although I am very busy working to provide for my family, I understand how important it is for me to be more involved, and I want to be more present in my children’s lives.” 

The Ethiopia team was especially encouraged that this group of fathers requested to continue meeting every two months to support each other’s growth. Additional trainings are already scheduled for other fathers with a workshop on parenting teens to follow.

Your support is making a lasting difference in the ways fathers will guide their families—with more gentleness and attention. Together, we’re building a better world through family.

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