National Reconciliation Week

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Created by Esther Productions Inc.the National Reconciliation Week: For Self & Family has been designed to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of family in developing whole, healthy children and adults;


  • Raise awareness about the importance of family to developing strong communities and a healthy society;


  • Provide specific information and techniques for strengthening the family, whether traditional or blended;


  • Provide specific information to help young single mothers and fathers understand their roles as parents;


  • Provide tips to enable single mothers and fathers to become more expert at parenting while juggling other external responsibilities


  • Encourage more parents who do not live in the same household to embrace co-parenting as a process improve emotional, spiritual and healthy outcomes for their children and themselves; 


  • Encourage the involvement of more fathers in the daily growth and development of their daughters; and 

  •  Provide specific guidance and counseling that would enable previously estranged fathers and daughters to reconcile



  • More than 20 million children in America live in single parent households, many of them are families of color, according to National Kids Count Data collected by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

  • More specifically, in 2018, 8.5 million white children lived in single parent homes. However that same year 6.2 million African American children in single parent homes, constituting 65 percent of their overall population. Also, in 2018, 7.3 million Latino children lived in single parent homes, accounting for 41 percent of the population.

  • More than 50 percent of all marriages in America end in divorce. Health experts have indicated that divorce or parental abandonment is a prime Adverse Childhood Experiences that can haunt a child into adulthood, interfering with that child’s ability have a healthy sense of self  and whole healthy relationships.

  • The trauma of parental, more specifically father, abandonment can be expressed in the Fatherless Woman Syndrome as codified by jonetta rose barras in “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact of Fatherless on Black Women. Barras identified 5 factors: 

    • “Un Factor”- fatherless girls and women frequently believe themselves unlovable and unworthy of love; ‘Triple Fears Factor”—fear of rejection, fear of commitment; fear of abandonment;“Sexual Healing Factor”—looking for love in all the wrong places and using it to assuage the pain; “The Over Factor”—over-compensating in intimate relationships or sometimes oversaturating with food, drugs, alcohol, work or sex; and “The RAD Factor (Rage Anger and Depression)”—Fatherless girl or woman is sometimes a fount of unexplained anger and rage; that violent expression and be turned internally, causing depression, attempted suicides or actual suicides.

  • Family separation also has an adverse the economic effect. Some single-parent homes thrive. Most suffer, however, filling the ranks of the poor and low-income. In 2018, 38.1 million people lived in poverty. That means the poverty rate for 2018 was 11.8%., according to the group Poverty USA  

  • In 2018, the poverty rate for married couples was only 4.7% - but the poverty rate for single-parent families with no wife present was 12.7%, and for single-parent families with no husband present was 24.9%.

  • The effects of a single-parent home on a child’s behavior can be far-reaching and impact several areas of life, including academic achievement and social behaviors. 

These are all reasons to consider self and family reconciliation.



Wednesday June 10—1-2pm The MANY MEANINGS AND FACES OF RECONCILIATION: A conversation with motivational speaker Larry Shaw, family restoration author Mike Smothers, therapist and intrapersonal psychology expert Dr. Tracie Robinson and self-care guru and Young Parents Elevation Network founder Jennifer Yolanda Okosun. jonetta rose barras, an authority on reconciliation and founder of Esther Productions Inc., serves as the moderator.


Thursday, June 11-- 1-2pm—YOUR JOURNEY, YOUR VOICE: Larry Shaw and Jennifer Okosun continues the journey, sharing participants stories and questions as they provide greater details about the reconciliation process and why it is important.


Friday, June 12—1:00 – 2:30pm FROM SELF-CARE TO FAMILY RESTORATION: Every journey begins with you. It is nearly impossible to reconcile successfully with an estranged parent, child, relative, friend without first reconciling with self.  In truth, self-reconciliation is self-care.

How can the absence of self-care affect mental and physical health, including the harboring of unresolved trauma? What role does self-reconciliation play in recognizing such problems and reducing their adverse consequences? How does one get started? What are things the self-reconciling traveler should look for?  

Those are a few questions that will be answered by Jennifer Yolanda Okosun and Michelle Garcia, executive director of the District of Columbia’s Office of Victim Services and the Office of Human Rights.

Later, jonetta rose barras and Mike Smothers provide a roadmap from self-care to family restoration, examining the issues that often intrude in the maintenance of a healthy loving family and how they can be eliminated or minimized using the reconciliation process

The audience will be invited to share their own stories or experiences about self-and family reconciliation.


Saturday June 13 and Sunday, June 14—REFLECT AND PLAN: Much has been discussed over the past three days. It’s time now to take a moment and consider what you want to do. Are you ready to commit yourself to self-reconciliation to family reconciliation? Do you know why you want to take this journey? Do you have questions about the process? 

Come to the events Facebook page @NationalReconciliationWeek for tips, affirmations and inspirational guidance and you take a brief internal trip to assess where you are.


Then, get ready for Part 2 of NATIONAL RECONCILIATION WEEK: For Self & Family


Monday, June 15—1-2 pm-- CO-PARENTING 101: We’ve talked about self-reconciliation and its importance, especially to family reconciliation and restoration. Co-Parenting 101 makes clear why it is important to come to terms with yourself. Mike Smothers shares his personal story about the journey to co-parenting, including the personal and environment conditions that needed to be present to help him appreciate the mother of his daughters, his daughters and himself. Jennifer Yolanda Okosun puts it all together as a preliminary opening for her more detailed Co-Parenting training session later in the week. 


Tuesday, June 16—1-2 pm –FATHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIPS AND RECONCILIATION TAKE CENTER STAGE: jonetta rose barras, author of Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women talks with one of the country’s foremost authorities on father-daughter relationships. Dr. Linda Nielsen, author of “Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and Their Dads," discusses the dynamics in one of the most important familial units. She provides insights and tips about how to protect it and how the two might reconcile when there has been a breach in the relationship.



Wednesday, June 17—1-3pm—FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. In this two- hour training session Jennifer Okosun and Mike Smothers share specific “how to” steps for developing the proper internal and external environment for divorced parents or parents who may have never married to establish family and implement a co-parenting system that is healing and healthy for them and their children. 


Later,  jonetta rose barras, will offer a step-by-step guide for daughters who may want to reconcile with their fathers. And, if their fathers are no longer around or can’t be found, she will assist participants in designing a solo-reconciliation plan that will bring them the healing they need to begin to have healthy and whole relationships with themselves and others.

As the week closes out, the audience will have the opportunity to interact with the experts, asking questions, offering comments and sharing their stories.





jonetta rose barras is considered a pioneer in the fatherless woman’s movement. She is the author of the ground-breaking memoir, “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl? The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women” (Random House 2000) and “Bridges: Reuniting Fathers and Daughters.” (Bancroft Press 2005) Her book “Twelve Steps to Reconciliation” will be released in January 2021. She is the editor of “Discovering Me…Without You: Teen Girls Speak About Father Absence (EPI Books 2020) Jonetta is the founder of Esther Productions Inc., where for the past two decades she has been focused on healing and empowering fatherless girls and women. She is the visionary and co-presenter for the NATIONAL RECONCILIATION WEEK.





Jennifer Yolanda Okosun is a facilitator, speaker, artist and author. She is currently pursuing a degree in communications with a focus on Media Psychology (yes, it’s a thing!).  She sees her purpose as helping to guide motivated young single mothers in their 20’s and 30’s on their journey through personal growth and wellness. She has developed a self-care curriculum and will release her book later this year. She is the co-presenter of the NATIONAL RECONCILIATION WEEK.



Larry Shaw is a social entrepreneur focused on empowering people of the African diaspora to take pride in their identity and culture while giving themselves the education to solve their own problems in their own communities. Holding a bachelor’s in mass communications, Larry directed sales at select Fortune 500 companies before pursuing his social entrepreneurial journey which has allowed him to impact youth and communities worldwide. Larry is a lecturer,  author and the creator of “bARTer & build” which is a movement for black/African change-makers to thrive together practicing group economics.




Mike Smothers is a life-long native of Prince George's Co, Maryland. He is an every-man, committed to giving hope to co-parents everywhere.  Author of the upcoming book, "The Baby Daddy Survival Guide: Common Sense Co-Parenting," Mike has dedicated himself to sharing lessons and tools learned from his own personal experiences, mistakes and triumphs, to help others find hope and peace in their own co-parenting journey. A father of four; Kirah, Ryan, Khari & Jayden, Mike hopes to build a legacy of helping those who may feel hopeless, as well as a treasure trove of dad jokes - that will make his children as proud of him as he is of them.



Michelle M. Garcia is the executive director the of the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG). She provides leadership and coordination of District funded programs that serve victims of crime, justice-involved individuals, and youth at risk for truancy or juvenile delinquency. OVSJG also provides policy making expertise, advice, and counsel to the Executive on evidence-based practices that respond to, intervene in, and prevent victimization and enhance responses to trauma. Previously, Michelle was director of  the Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime  and a Program Specialist with the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime. She also has extensive expertise around sexual assault and domestic and dating violence. Michelle received her Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Chicago.



Linda Nielsen is a Professor in the Education Department at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC.  She is an internationally recognized expert on father-daughter relationships.  In addition to her many academic articles, she has written five books on father-daughter relationships. For the past 26 years she has been teaching the only college course in the country devoted exclusively to father-daughter relationships. Her research and advice have been featured in such outlets as the BBC and NPR, a PBS documentary, Time,  Wall Street Journal, New York Times & the Washington Post.  Her newest book, Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and Their Dads," will be released in June 2020.  

Tracie Robinson, Ph.D who holds a doctorate in intrapersonal psychology and a master’s in dance therapy; she has been practicing since 1997.  She uses structure and/or authentic dance and movement to facilitate synergistic change. Her goal is to expose people to their predispositions by integrating movement, gestures, rhythms, breath, verbal and non-verbal communication with a less defended expression of the body.  She is founder and president of Essences of Wellness Authentic Transformation, LLC, which provides a holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle.



TAKE THIS QUIZ: Rate your father-daughter relationship

(Provided by Dr. Linda Nielsen, Wake Forest University from her newest book:  “Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women & Their Dads” (June 2020) 


Are you satisfied with your father-daughter relationship exactly the way it is now—or do you ever wish it could better? Do you ever find yourself feeling a little jealous of the comfortable bond that other fathers and daughters have? Ever wonder what might be done to improve yours—or if not to improve it, at least understand it better? 

Let’s begin exploring those questions by having you rate your relationship. This will help you figure out which specific areas need improvement. 



How would each of you describe your present relationship?

0= rarely, never      1= somewhat, occasionally   2= definitely, almost always


Dad    Daughter

Generally speaking, we…….


___     ___         look forward to spending time together

___     ___         feel relaxed and at ease when we’re together without others around

___    ____        spend one on one private time together without anyone else around

___    ____        can argue with each other without it damaging our relationship

___    ____        have discussed difficult, emotional or controversial issues

__    ____          do not lie or hide important things from each other   

 __    ____         have forgiven each other for past mistakes

____  ____        feel accepted for being myself (not being Daddy’s little girl or Superman Dad)    

___    ____        talk comfortably about personal, meaningful things

____  ____        are honest and open with each other about most things

____   ____       feel we can disclose our mistakes & weaknesses to one another  

____   ____       communicate well without having to go through others to communicate for us 

____   ____       are comfortable disagreeing with each other 

____   ____      make one another feel loved & appreciated

____   ____      know one another well as human beings, not just as parent & child

____   _____    give advice to each other without getting upset 

____   _____    accept advice from each other without getting upset 

____   _____    communicate (phone, text, email) just with one another   

____   _____    have successfully resolved certain difficulties in our relationship  

____   _____    have as close a relationship as mother & daughter or father & son 

_____  _____  handle our emotions well when we’re angry at each other

____   _____   never use other family members to resolve our father-daughter issues

____   _____   are able to apologize to each other 

_____ _____   steer away from guilt, obligation or fear to manipulate each other 

_____ _____   still feel loved even when we don’t meet each other’s expectations    

_____  _____   Your Score     (50 possible)


The higher the score, the more positive an impact the father is generally having on his daughter’s life. According to decades of research, daughters who grew up with  high quality relationships with their fathers are the most advantaged in terms of : academic, career and financial success, quality of their relationships with men, mental and emotional health (anxiety, depression, suicide, eating disorders), physical health (drug, alcohol and nicotine use, obesity, physical fitness), and self-confidence and assertiveness. So how would you, as a daughter or as a father, rate the daughter’s well-being in these aspects of her life? How closely do these ratings match the ratings each of you gave your relationship?



"The Baby Daddy Survival Guide - Common Sense Co-Parenting"

 By Michael Smothers (an excerpt)



Some nights you’ll cry. In your car after a drop-off. Maybe even once you make it back home. But some nights the raw emotion of the love a father has for his child and the feeling of being severed from it (at least physically) will render you defenseless against the tears.


One of my fondest memories of my younger daughter is a night that started off pretty normal, at least for us. I picked her and her sister up from school and took them to Ashley’s house for our scheduled visitation, which at the time was a few hours after school until bedtime. So, we knocked out our evening ritual. We ate, finished homework and got prepared for the next day before settling in for the night. While reading a bedtime story, she looked up at me, seemingly no longer interested in the book. 


“Daddy, can you please stay with me tonight?” I scrambled to figure out how to begin to explain to a five-year-old the particulars of why that was impossible. 


“Well baby, this is mommy’s house. She has her house and I have my house. You guys stay with me on the weekends sometimes so that we can have our time at my house, but I can’t stay here with you.” 


As I basked in the moment, feeling like I came up with a pretty good explanation, she looked me in my eyes and delivered words that broke me in a way I had never been broken before. “Is it because you don’t have a bed here?...I’ll get my sleeping bag and sleep on the floor and you can sleep in my bed.” In that moment the full weight of the responsibility I had for that tiny heart crushed me. 


Fighting back tears I told her that it was such a sweet, generous offer but that I wanted her to be snug and comfortable so she would sleep well and be rested for the next day. I kissed her and her sister goodnight, we said prayers and I turned off the light as I left the room. I sat on the couch, stunned until a few minutes later, Ashley got home from work. I said goodnight and nothing more for fear that I would break down at any moment. 


I got in my car as the tears started to fall; by the time I made it to the end of the block, I was sobbing uncontrollably. I consider myself to be a pretty even-keeled person and not very often do my emotions get the better of me. But the night my daughter told me that she would sleep on the floor just so I could be near broke me to pieces. What had I ever done to deserve to be loved like that? 


The majority of what I had offered her up to that point was dysfunction. The guilt of all the times she expected a visit only to be met with the excuse of “Daddy’s car broke down,” came rushing into my mind. I sobbed even harder. The look of disappointment in her eyes as she accepted that the one thing she wanted most in that night, for her Daddy to be with her...wasn’t going to happen. 


I punched the steering wheel repeatedly. Sinking my face into my hands, I played her life like a movie in my head. The moments I missed, the times I was too busy on my phone to give her the attention she was looking for. My despair felt bottomless. And then in the middle of a deep gasp for air I thought of her smile. The way she laughed at my jokes while we ate dinner earlier that night. The joy in her voice as we sang songs during bath time. The way she wrapped her arms around my neck as I gave her one last hug goodnight.


I wasn’t the perfect father. I’m still not and will never be. But the love a young child has for a father is a forgiving love. One that says even though you’re not perfect, I still want you here, just to be close to me. My tears slowed as I started to think of our first field trip, baking cookies and planting flowers in front of her mom’s house. I lifted my head and the last of the tears dropped. I would find a way to make this right. To protect the tiny heart she placed in my hands that night, I’d move heaven and Earth to do it if need be. 


Some nights, you’re going to cry. You’ll cry because the weight is heavy. You’ll cry because the pain is indescribable. You’ll cry because you miss them, and it feels like there’s no one who truly understands what you’re going through. You’ll look at your phone and try to think of someone to call. Someone who might understand. You are not alone. As men we tend to cry in the dark, for fear that we’ll be viewed as weak. You are not weak. It takes a strong man to love this hard. It takes a strong man to look himself in the mirror and face the fact that he can be better. It takes a strong man to carry the weight and responsibility of a child’s love. Yes, some nights you’ll cry. But then you’ll think of the promise held in the life of your child. The smiles and laughs and hugs and kisses you’ve shared so far and the hope of so many more in the future. You’ll wipe your tears away and you’ll know exactly what it means to be a father. 


©Michael Smothers—all rights reserved.

Esther Productions Inc

Since 2004, Esther Productions Inc. has helped transform the lives of thousands of  girls and women, particularly those facing the challenges associated with father absence. It is considered a pioneer, offering innovative techniques and programs that enable healing while helping girls and women achieve self-actualization.




Phone: 202-829-0591

1629 K St. NW--Suite 300

Washington, DC 20006

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