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Keeping Unmarried Parents at the Top of their Parenting Game

September 25, 2007

St. Paul, MN – Unmarried parents face extra challenges, and need to make the effort to remain active and involved in their children's lives, say organizers of a series of statewide forums kicking off today. Organizer Paul Masiarchin with the Minnesota Fathers and Family Network says a quarter of all parents with children aren't married, and need all the support they can get.

"If we aren't recognizing and working with these families, if unmarried families are invisible, then their children are invisible in many ways as well. We're really trying to help make the children more visible, and to connect those children with both of their parents."

Masiarchin adds that unmarried parents face unique challenges:

"They often live in two separate households and there are custody issues. The issues of trying to help families understand how to balance the relationship of the child, and how to balance the co-parenting of the children. It's often a big challenge for parents. If they're individually raising the child, they don't have that support from the second parent and the child really loses out in a lot of ways."

He explains that kids benefit when both parents are involved in their lives.

"If the parents are able to co-parent and really agree on raising the child, the child gets to see two role models who are both parenting and agreeing on that parenting relationship. Beyond that, thinking about how fathers parent and how mothers parent, there are a lot of differences. So it really broadens the child's experience."

He says the seminars will focus on co-parenting styles, how both parents can support their children, and what communities can do to help unmarried parents.

Today's session is in Marshall. Others coming up are in Duluth, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Bemidji, Hutchinson, Rochester and St. Cloud.

More online at www.mnfathers.org. The sessions are co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Also participating are Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota and the Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN