SACRAMENTO, California — Alec Poe wants to break stereotypes. The one he’s set out to destroy currently is one that says he’s more likely to be an absent father than a single one.

And he’s got support by way of the "Daddies Here" Parenting Class and Support Group through Centers for Fathers and Families in Sacramento. The Center for Fathers and Families is a non-profit dedicated to responding to the needs of dads and their families. They say the strength of the community lies in the strength of its families.

"It’s tough growing up without a mom. It can be very tough," Poe said. He's raising his 13-year-old daughter, Angelina. She was born when he was just 17 years old. Poe admits, "The ideal situation is that both parents are in the household, but it doesn't always work out that way, so it's been very tough for my daughter."

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One out of every three kids in America is growing up in a single parent household, but when most people think of single parents, they think of a mother. And rightfully so. Statistics show that only 16 percent of single-parent households are run by single dads.

This should go without saying, but fathers are important in a child’s life. According to Fatherly, two-year-olds with supportive fathers score higher in cognition. Most studies suggest that, until children hit puberty, the father effect is roughly equal for boys and girls. But when their daughters grow older, Fatherly says teenage daughters take fewer sexual risks if they have strong relationships with their dads.

"Her mom and I stayed in touch for a while, but the situation just worked out to where it was better that [Angelina’s mom] didn't see our daughter," Poe said, adding he knew he couldn't raise his daughter completely by himself. Luckily, he had his family’s support. He said his lifeline has been the women in his life.

"My mother, my sister, my sisters-in-law,” Poe explained. “I lean on them a lot. I've never been a 13-year-old little girl, so I don't know what it's like with the bodily changes and going into junior high and [dealing with] boys."

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But more than that, Poe said that he needed an outlet with other men who really understood what he was going through. That's where the Center's for Fathers and Families came into his life. He got involved in their "Daddies Here" Parenting Class and Support Group after he learned about it from a social worker.

And it’s not just about parental support. Centers for Fathers and Families make sure that the children of the parents in their program are having fun, too, going to Sacramento Kings games, the zoo, Disney on Ice and other events.

Poe said they’ve been a second life line for him.

"It really helped me to be able to communicate myself effectively with my daughter without being mean but while being really firm,” Poe explained. The Center has other groups and programs focused around helping dads be the best fathers they can be because kids don't come with instruction manuals and a lot of parents — moms or dads — need a little help. 

“I'd probably be going a little crazy not being able to talk to some of the other dads from the group,” Poe said.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Keristen Holmes.

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