Families Matter was founded in 2004 by a group of Memphians concerned about what they felt was the root of many problems in the community: failures in the family. These failures play a role in spousal and child abuse, youth violence, lack of respect for others, crime, under-achieving students, single-parent families and the cycle of poverty. Families Matter combats these issues in the community and works to help people understand the importance of marriage before having children as they assist fathers in understanding their responsibility as a parent, and help couples enrich their relationships.
The mission of Families Matter is to increase the number of healthy, loving, caring and forgiving families in Memphis, Shelby County and beyond. At its core, Families Matter is an education organization, working in a variety of venues, that helps people understand their role within the family structure. Its educational offerings focus on fatherhood, teens, individuals, and families.
Courses targeted for men help them better understand how to nurture and care for their children. A fatherhood initiative introduces new dads to parenting through boot camps that provide practical tips for caring for babies. Another initiative helps men understand their responsibilities to their children, whether they’re in the child support system or not. “Children need the love and admonition of their fathers. This program works with fathers to help them have a paradigm shift on what it means to care for their child,” said Carol Jackson, executive director. “If I came from a family where I wasn’t cared for, more than likely I would not understand what caring for my child would look like.”
Families Matter has a variety of partners including schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations. It’s those relationships that enables it to reach more participants, whether they’re fathers, couples or teens. Young people are an important focus. “We feel that if we can somehow get teens to understand that they can have success in life if they select a goal and prepare themselves, then that goal is achievable,” Jackson said. The organization provides teachers with curriculum that helps students understand the family structure, but also helps them understand themselves by providing exercises that can help them plan budgets and teach them how to achieve success in life.
The teen effort is for boys and girls, but another program works specifically with boys from fifth through 12th grades. Using a curriculum called The 12 Principles of Manhood, this program is especially beneficial for boys who grow up in a home without an adult male influence. “It’s principles that when you’re raised in a house with both parents you might learn these things just because you see them modeled,” Jackson said. “So many of our students do not have positive role models, therefore their behavior issues are sometimes off the charts. They don’t see modeling of how to be a young man.”
Financial contributions help Families Matter reach more children, teens, fathers and others who need the family foundation it provides through its various educational opportunities. There are opportunities to volunteer, whether it’s to teach a class or assist at its upcoming first annual dinner at Second Presbyterian Church on April 12. For more information about Families Matter, contact Carol Jackson at (901) 351.1124 or visit familiesmattermemphis.org.
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