Fathers are as important in the lives of children as mothers. Fathers often want help with how to connect more positively with their child. We have found over the years that, due to work constraints, it is difficult for fathers to join a daytime group, whereas mothers seek out and can commit to an ongoing parent-child group. We therefore refer to our groups as Mother-Child Groups. However, if more than one father wishes to join a group, we will form a mixed Parent-Child Group and if enough fathers are available, we will form a Father-Child Group.
Fathers who wish to join a group can read about the group model in the sections Side-by-Side Model and Mother-Child Groups. Our groups do not follow a curriculum with set topics. Rather, group members bring up the questions and concerns that are on their mind. Some of the topics that fathers might choose to bring up would be similar to the mothers’, but there are others that would be more specific to dads, such as:
- pressures to be the provider and protector that kick in upon becoming a father
- role of the father during the early months, especially if the baby is nursing and the father feels excluded from that intense bonding experience
- different wishes and expectations between parents about parenting—how to find common ground, how to communicate, how to meet everyone’s needs? For example, who is the disciplinarian in the family? Fathers may not want to come home from work and start setting limits; mothers may not accept that fathers are greeted as the exciting playmate by their child, especially when this disrupts routines and bedtime.
- Stay-at-home dads may want to talk about changes in the way they view themselves and the way they think others view them.
The above are examples and do not represent the full range of topics discussed in our groups.