“If you had told me a year ago that I would have what I do today, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
This is the way James Mincks talks about the remarkable changes in his life allowing him to be the kind of man and father he wants to be to his sons today.
James’ story is not an easy one. It contains many setbacks, including his dropping out of high school, becoming addicted to meth and serving a period of incarceration. Although he spent some time caring for his sons when they were very young and their mother was working, he admits he “was just there” and not really engaged with his children. His addiction and a number of poor choices led to his conviction as a felon and time spent in the Department of Corrections. In July 2018, he “home planned” to Victory Mission in Springfield, Missouri, where his life began to change.
At Victory Mission, James committed himself to completing the “Restoration Program.” Part of the program includes participation in New Pathways for Good Dads for all men who are fathers. It also involves an opportunity to be part of Jobs for Life. Though it wasn’t always easy to work through issues from his past, James was determined to make something different of his life. When he applied for a position at SMC Packaging in Springfield, he was one of three out of 17 applicants to be hired for the open positions. Today he speaks proudly of the promotions he has earned at SMC Packaging and the way it has changed his life. “I have vacation days, benefits and things people told me I would never have,” he says.
James also noted how his attitude changed with regard to supporting his children. “I used to resent having to pay,” he said, “because the boys’ mother made more money than me. Today I’m happy to do my part because they are my children.”
What difference does a supportive environment, a job and new confidence make for someone like James? You could ask his sons, ages 7 and 10. They would tell you that their dad planned a first ever birthday party last December, took them shoe shopping for new shoes at the beginning of summer, and financed their back-to-school shopping this fall. Following that, he arranged for family photos. One proudly features James with his boys with a sign proclaiming, “Thank you for giving us our dad back.”
Hear more of James' story in this Good Dads podcast.
New Pathways for Good Dads is a Good Dads program made possible by a Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood contract through the State of Missouri's Department of Social Services, Family Support Division.
My dad was fond of saying, "Into every life a little rain must fall." Of course, we wish that rain had not fallen last Thursday evening right before the baseball game was supposed to begin.
Even so, we know dads and kids have lots of "stories to tell" about getting wet, loads of people, huddling under the sheltered areas, and hoping the rain would stop. You meet some of the most interesting folks at times like these.
Regardless of the rain and whether or not dads and kids decided to stay for a late game,they still enjoyed the t-shirts, food vouchers and baseball caps. We know some of them even received bobble heads. Good for you.
The Good Dads office is taking a little break from activity for a few weeks, but will soon be on planning more fun activities for dads and kids in late summer and fall. The podcasts and weekly e-newsletter will continue, so keep listening and reading to learn about what's new and what's next.
Thanks again to all the dads and kids who joined us for Good Dads @ the Springfield Cardinals. And a special thanks to Rick's Automotive who helped make it all possible.
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at email@example.com.
eGood dads are not always tall, handsome, charming, or engaging. Some are short, average looking, quiet and shy. But a good dad always looks like a hero to his children. His super power may be juggling oranges. His cape may be a bath towel. His undershirt may not have an ‘S’ on the front but it might say ‘World’s Greatest Dad”, a gift from last Father’s Day.
No doubt, dads come in all shapes sizes and dispositions. But all good dads have something special to share with their children. It might be his presence at any important event. It could be his duty to see to his kids’ well-being and safety. It could be sharing his love of by sharing his interests. Usually, they just do what they need to do for their family.
Following are examples of three dads I know personally, all of whom could be nominated for “Dad of the Year” in any year!
The first Dad has a bald spot on the back of his head. He is overweight and misses his days as a smoker. He never finished high school, but he has an honest, difficult job and works very hard every day. He has a charming habit of mispronouncing words and has a hearty laugh. He has two children who have been adored by him and his mother. They are getting the education he never had. They have been encouraged, loved, guided, and corrected. A more dedicated father you will not find. This is what a good dad looks like.
This next dad is quiet. He loves sports but will pass up a big game for his family. Growing up without a loving father, he was fortunate to have a mother and aunt who worked together to raise him and his sister. His aunt took him to basketball and baseball games, cultivating his love of sports. He waited into his thirties for the right person to marry and he and his wife now have a young son and a baby daughter. You should see the look in his eye when he talks about, or plays with his three-year-old son. He makes sure he has lots of balls around, just in case his son takes to them. He gently holds his eight-month-old daughter in the air and kisses her on the neck and cheeks. Diapers, cooking, laundry, he pitches in no matter the chore. This dad will be the dad he never had. His dedication to fatherhood and family are as obvious as his soft-spoken nature. This is what a good dad looks like.
The third dad stays up late to catch up with a workload that could never be caught. When he does take a break, he researches his interests in nature, science, and a myriad of other things. But he is never too busy to teach his two young daughters about different kinds of bugs, the constellations, or plants. He combs his older daughter’s hair in the morning, not as well as her mother, but not bad. Often he speaks German to his girls to spark their interests in language, even his two-year-old. This dad talks up to, not down to his daughters. He teases, hugs, cheers, and loves. This is what a good dad looks like.
These are three men I know in my life who are worthy symbols of excellent fathering. A good dad, with a good mom, will give a child the most basic elements necessary to have successful lives. That being the knowledge they are loved, self-confidence, a support system, encouragement, understanding limits, and so much more. So what does a good dad look like? He’s tall or short, fat or skinny, black, white, or brown, bald or bearded, quiet or loud, but most of all he is engaged with his children, he is a mentor, and he is proud—to be a dad!
Michael Smith, the author of The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Need, is the father of three adult children and grandfather of four. He is a retired US Air Force officer and resides with his wife in St. Louis, MO. Michael can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.