Charles C. Daniels, Jr.: A second chance for fathers to connect with their kids

Recorded atDecember 01, 2021
EventTEDWomen 2021
Duration (min:sec)12:48
Video TypeTED Stage Talk
Words per minute123.98 very slow
Readability (FK)60.44 easy
SpeakerCharles C. Daniels, Jr.

Official TED page for this talk


Fathers have a profound impact on their children's lives, yet an estimated ten million kids in the US see their dads less than once a month. Through his advocacy and mental health center, therapist Charles C. Daniels, Jr. empowers fathers to be more present by providing mentorship and community, so they learn to forgive their own shortcomings and, most importantly, learn how to reconnect with their kids.

Text Highlight (experimental)
100:04 Did you know that an estimated 10 million children in the United States see their fathers less than once a month?
200:17 Research tells us what happens to boys and girls without dads or stable father figures in their lives.
300:26 Poverty rates double, emotional and behavioral health issues increase, high school dropout rates increase, as do crime and prison rates.
400:40 And I was no different.
500:43 I grew up in Georgia without my father.
600:47 My mother raised me.
700:50 And let me tell you something about my mom.
800:54 Every day before school, she would look me in the eyes and say to me, "You are tall, dark and handsome."
901:02 (Laughter) (Applause)
1001:11 "And you can do anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it."
1101:18 But I didn't believe her.
1201:23 I struggled.
1301:27 Behavioral issues, substance abuse issues, suicidal ideation.
1401:34 I blamed myself for my father being absent.
1501:42 I remember I was in college.
1601:45 In my room by myself.
1701:49 "God, you have to help me use my pain."
1801:54 So I went on a journey to find my father.
1901:57 And what I found was shocking.
2002:01 My father had been experiencing an issue that he needed help in overcoming.
2102:07 He was experiencing his own pain.
2202:11 His absence was not my fault.
2302:16 And in a way, not his fault.
2402:19 Then I thought to myself, what if my father would have had a caring group of neighbors to support him?
2502:27 It would have made a difference for the both of us.
2602:31 Now, there's a lot of reasons that keep fathers separated from their children.
2702:37 There are the ones you might think of right away, like estrangement from a mother, substance abuse, sickness and incarceration.
2802:48 But the reasons that don't get talked about enough are the ones that exacerbate the problem.
2902:57 Those are the emotions we don't talk about enough.
3003:02 I'm talking about shame.
3103:06 Guilt.
3203:08 And embarrassment.
3303:12 These emotions can cause so much harm beyond the absence.
3403:23 Ben was a 32-year-old father at an agency that I run called Fathers’ UpLift, where we help fathers love, forgive and heal.
3503:37 And in doing so, they learn to find the beauty in the pain they've experienced.
3603:44 Now one might ask, how can pain be beautiful?
3703:49 At Fathers' UpLift, we believe that pain gives you character, strength and courage.
3803:56 More importantly, there is a mystery on the other side of pain.
3904:00 For the population we work with, that mystery is a father's child.
4004:07 The warm embrace with your child on the other side of the mystery, that is beauty.
4104:16 Ben spent four years separated from his child due to co-parenting issues.
4204:23 restraining orders and challenges navigating the family court.
4304:29 But he also experienced shame from not being able to see his daughter daily, guilt because he was absent and embarrassment because he was unable to spend time with his daughter on a consistent basis.
4404:45 Now it is imperative to note that as we stand here today, that through prior relationships men learn to love and hate.
4505:00 Some of us have limited experience with love.
4605:04 Therefore, relationships that emphasize self-love play an essential role in the work we do.
4705:13 Lifelong relationships are integral to our efforts, with specific emphasis on an individual's ability to mirror new behavior and connections.
4805:25 Now, while many fathers like Ben come to our agency through social service agencies and correctional facilities, many of them come to us through word of mouth.
4905:38 They come to our clinic and can work one-on-one with a licensed therapist and coach.
5005:45 A team of individuals that provide guidance, advocacy and mentorship.
5105:53 We also offer group therapy.
5205:56 In groups of five to 25 fathers or more, they share stories about their children and comfort one another as they work to achieve a common goal.
5306:07 They hear stories of triumph and struggle and pour into one another whenever there is a need.
5406:14 Together, we ensure that fathers are mentally and emotionally prepared to be in their children's lives.
5506:22 And when their father has achieved his goal, he is invited to come back and be an ambassador and pay it forward.
5606:29 And last but not least, we ensure that mental health providers, universities and institutions have the tools they need to engage fathers wherever they are throughout the world, through our online and in-person instruction.
5706:46 (Applause)
5806:53 We work with fathers as long as they need us.
5906:56 Or, in other words, until they fire us.
6007:00 (Laughter)
6107:02 Now there is no easy formula here.
6207:07 Every dad is different.
6307:09 Every kid is different.
6407:12 Every story is different.
6507:14 But there are a few things we do every time.
6607:17 We are loving our fathers and the fatherless back to life.
6707:22 (Applause)
6807:27 We hug our fathers.
6907:30 We celebrate them on birthdays and holidays with a call to let them know how much we appreciate them.
7007:37 And we assume that they have the power to achieve their goals.
7107:42 We are a consistent source of support for them as they work to process the mistakes they've made in the past.
7207:52 For the last few years, we’ve served over 10,000 fathers in their families.
7307:57 (Applause)
7408:04 We've seen fathers accomplish goals, such as gaining shared custody of their children, loving themselves again and gaining a newfound appreciation for everything they have experienced in their life.
7508:21 All of our fathers enter our doors feeling hopeless.
7608:25 But when they leave, over 90 percent of them say they have an improved sense of identity and self-worth.
7708:31 We've helped fathers released from jail and prison return home with their worth, their dignity and their self-respect.
7808:39 (Applause)
7908:45 And of course, our work just doesn't benefit fathers.
8008:51 It's for the kids too.
8108:54 A kid blaming himself for something he doesn't understand.
8208:59 The kid like I was, who struggled and who didn't understand that fathers are human too.
8309:12 My father's absence inspired me to create a safe haven for fathers nationwide.
8409:18 And truth be told, my father is currently leading a life separated from me as we speak today.
8509:26 Unfortunately, it is not a perfect ending.
8609:30 But it is an important one.
8709:33 It sheds light on the fact that fathers hurt too.
8809:36 And it is our responsibility to love them back to life whenever the need exist.
8909:47 As I stand on the stage, I can't stop thinking about my seven-year-old son, Clayton, and my one-year-old daughter, SaMya Grace.
9009:58 The other day, I asked Clayton, "What kind of father am I?"
9110:05 He looked at me and said, "Um, you have a mustache," (Laughter) "Long hair," this was before the haircut, may I add.
9210:14 (Laughter)
9310:16 "And even a new computer."
9410:19 I was like, "OK, this is true, son."
9510:23 He goes on to say, "I love it when you buy me games," before hugging me -- (Laughter) And running back to his room.
9610:33 (Laughter)
9710:36 And SaMya Grace.
9810:39 Every time I ask her for a kiss, she puckers up her lips and she runs to kiss me with an enormous smile.
9910:50 That makes my day every time.
10010:53 When moments like these occur, I understand that I have the privilege to be present, unlike many of the fathers that walk through our doors for the first time.
10111:04 Like them, I am far from perfect.
10211:08 Despite my mistakes, my greatest achievement is being Clayton and SaMya's father.
10311:17 (Applause)
10411:22 Millions of fathers today, regardless of their location, can say the same thing.
10511:35 I must admit, if it had not been for the individuals in my life that reminded me of how valuable I was, I would not be here today.
10611:46 I'm more than thankful for them that they loved me back to life.
10711:51 Fathers that have been absent, regardless of their past mistakes, deserve a lifeline.
10811:59 And if we are deserving, so are the ones who have lost their way.
10912:07 Take a moment with me.
11012:10 Fifteen seconds.
11112:12 And I'll keep the time.
11212:16 Think about the people who loved you when you lost your way.
11312:21 Who huged you when you needed it.
11412:25 Who assumed best intention.
11512:30 Who validated you.
11612:32 And embraced you even when you felt undeserving.
11712:37 Whoever came to mind, try, just try and be that to someone else.
11812:44 Thank you.
11912:45 (Applause)