Interview: Steven Ashley

ashleyimage.pngFounder of the Divorced Fathers Network in Santa Cruz, California, Steven Ashley believes “children with divorced parents stand the best chance of being successful adults if they are allowed continued access to both parents.”

While shared parenting can be tough, Ashley is dedicated to helping communities across the country create networks that offer free co-parenting classes, resources and support for Fathers who believe “children want and need both parents during and after the divorce.”

            Founder of the Divorced Fathers Network in Santa Cruz, California, Steven Ashley believes “children with divorced parents stand the best chance of being successful adults if they are allowed continued access to both parents.” 

            While shared parenting can be tough, Ashley is dedicated to helping communities across the country create networks that offer free co-parenting classes, resources and support for Fathers who believe “children want and need both parents during and after the divorce.”

            Ashley’s advocacy can be heard through his weekly radio talk show, his books and the Divorced Fathers Network at http://www.divorcedfathers.com/. The bottom line says Ashley, is to “Put us to work and we’ll be happy to work with you.”  
DadsDivorce.com. Why did you found the Divorced Father’s Network (DFN) and by the way I think this is your 20 year anniversary?


Steven Ashley:
  That’s correct. I started the DFN because I was going through a separation with my child’s mother. And my child –she was 18 months old at the time. I was uncertain what the best course of action was so I could remain an involved father. 
I started asking other divorced Fathers what their opinions were and I realized I got a lot of insights from Dads who were going through some of the same kind of challenges I was.  I got very current support and information.   

DD.com:  Since the 20 year founding what surprised you most about DFN?

SA:
Well, I think what surprised me the most was just how dedicated divorced Fathers are when they are having a hard time with their children’s mother.  When mothers are not being cooperative – they may move to another state for example, some Fathers are so determined to remain in their children’s life they will give up their jobs and move to be in the same area with their kids.
 And as incredibly challenging the issues may be they will jump through all the hoops required by Mothers and the courts. It requires super human dedication when Fathers are not getting along with the children’s Mother. So I’m impressed with the determination many Fathers have to remain in their children’s lives.  

DD.com:   Have you found this has been a track record for the majority of divorced Fathers since the founding of the DFN?

SA:
  I would say about 70 percent of Fathers who attend a co-parenting/support group like the Divorced Fathers Network where they can go free of charge and learn how to co-parent and how to improve the relationship with their children’s mother end up with a co- parenting relationship that works for the family.  So yes, for the majority of divorced Fathers – the determination to remain in their children’s lives shows up as a track record. 
 

DD.com:  Steven, you’ve done quite a bit of writing. Fathers are Forever,  Starting a Divorced Fathers Network and the most recent The Long Distance Dad. Based on your writing, what do you think divorced Dads are most concerned withtoday as opposed to 1988? 

SA: Well the issues are very similar. Things have not have improved that much for Fathers. I think the idea of Fathers being involved as co–parents is more widely accepted today. I think the biggest challenge with divorced Fathers today is how to improve the relationship with their children’s Mother so the couple is no longer fighting.  Fathers want to know how to end conflicts with their children’s mother, which is very challenging for them because many Mothers for example, will hire attorneys and fall into family law systems.  And that can be very aggravating for Fathers.    

DD.com:  Any surprises in the way of responses to your writing or the DFN?  

SA: My biggest surprise and it’s been just a delight – is the support I’ve been getting from women. Especially from single mothers.  They are aware there are not enough resources for divorced Fathers. Some of the volunteers and the most valuable volunteers we’ve had over the 20 years have been divorced women and single Moms. 

DD.com:  What would you like to see happen for the DFN in the future?

SA:
   I would like to see it be a resource for family law and mental health communities and businesses so they can get a better understanding of how dedicated Fathers really are to their children.  I don’t think people in the family law and mental health business really understand what a resource these Fathers are and how dedicated they are to their families.
  

DD.com. Personally, what are you working on that’s new?  

SA:  We’re working with a new court system in San Hosea, California called the Family Wellness Court that is one of a kind in the country. DFN is supplying mentors for the men who come through that court. So we are mentoring them on how to successfully complete the requirements for the court.    

DD.com:   Steven, is there anything else you would like to see happen that would help divorced Fathers and their children?  

SA:
   I would like to see more radio programs. I don’t know if you know– I host a radio talk show on the Divorced Fathers Network every Friday.  I would be willing to participate in hosting and syndicating those programs. Radio is a great way to educate the public and  create more co-parenting relationships between Mothers and Fathers.  And it’s a very affordable and user friendly medium good for families.
 

DD.com: What would you like people to know about DFN?

SA
:  Our motto at DFN is “put us to work and we will be happy to work for you.”
Besides California we have free co-parenting courses now in Wisconsin, Florida and Texas.  And start-up kits are available with more information on our website. 

 


For more information contact:
The Divorced Fathers Network http://www.divorcedfathers.com/
Steven Ashley  steve@divorcedfathers.org or   831.335.5855

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