Relationships can be hard, but raising children may be even harder for young men today, but D.A.DS, a men’s ministry is here to help.

Nate Murrell, 38, a native of Washington D.C was inspired to create an outreach ministry called D.A.D.S, while conquering his own custody battle.

D.A.D.S was created to help men gain legal knowledge for custody cases, as well as help them to become better fathers for their children and better men in the community.

“Sitting in the court house I noticed many men didn’t know their rights when going through child custody battles,” Murrell said.Murrell has been divorced for six years and like many men in D.C., he has a story to tell.

“I may have all the answers for the men in my ministry, but for my own marriage I didn’t,” said Murrell. “It was the communication between us.”

Whether or not the relationship lasts, once a couple decides to have a child the communication between the two is key for the child’s sake, according to Murrell. In his case the communication was omitted during the marriage, but because his 10-year- old son, Miles Murrell has spina bifida, they have become better friends than they were when they were married. “I tell the guys that sometimes it may not work, but the child will always remember what you have done for them,” Murrell said.

Spina bifida is a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings.

D.A.D.S was officially created in 2004 at a small church in Maryland but according to Murrell the church was not prepared to do something of that magnitude, so Murrell started small, taking off with public speaking.

D.A.D.S meets every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Washington Highlands Library on 115 Atlantic St. SW. While most ministries have a set curriculum, Murrell steers away from that basing every meeting on were his members are mentally and financially.

“I always tell my guys don’t work for the money make the money work for you,” said Murrell. “If you are not financially straight be honest and work toward being financially okay.”

MurrelI always uses a strategy to get men to budget during hard times. He is fond of his $3 can feed a family of five motto. A pack of eight hot dogs is $1, a 12-pack of hot dog buns and a bag of chips is $2 at Murray’s Grocery.

“It may not be the most nutritious, but if you’re hungry you will eat,” Murrell said.

On May 19, D.A.D.S will be hosting a movie and discussion night. They will be viewing a movie called Men II Boys and discussing the lack of father-to-son relationships primarily in the African American community, and how it affects boys, and how they transcend to manhood.

On June 13 there will be a Child Support and Child Custody Summit for fathers. There will be an open discussion to educate men on custody issues. Both events will be held at the Washington Highlands library. Murrell advises the men to never look for handouts.

“There is no food at any of my events,” said Murrell. “People will come eat and leave and real men should not do that.”

Murrell encourages men to bring their sons to the major events. He believes that interaction is important.

“Don’t be a Disney Dad,” said Murrell. “Sending gifts isn’t enough.”