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The power of community for dads

An inside look at a program Buckner offers for fathers

Fatherhood … it’s no easy role. I remember the first moments heading home from the hospital. The last 48 hours had felt like an eternity. My wife and I reached a level of exhaustion we had never experienced before but nonetheless, we were excited to finally take our first baby home. It was a dream come true.

But after only a few steps outside the automatic hospital doors I realized, “How do you put a baby in a car seat?”

After all that anticipation, there were still so many things about fatherhood I needed to learn.

In the nine months leading up to our daughter’s birth, I did everything I could think of to prepare. I bought diapers, wipes, and at my wife’s request, an endless number of coordinated onesies and bows.

I perused through parenting books and watched YouTube videos. I baby-proofed our entire home. I thought I had done everything needed. However, as I hunched over my tiny baby in her car seat struggling to get everything to fit just right, I realized what I truly needed. I needed a community of fathers to learn from.

Resources for dads through Buckner

Being a new father and doing the work I do brings me great joy. I’m blessed to lead our Buckner Family Hope Center® in Peñitas where we provide the 24/7 DAD Fatherhood Program.

24/7 DAD helps fathers become self-aware of their parenting, provides parenting strategies and techniques, improves communication with the child’s mother and prioritizes men’s health. The curriculum is an evidence-based educational program from the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Ivan Morales, one of our Buckner family coaches, also leads the work with men and fathers at our Family Hope Center as our 24/7 DAD trained facilitator.

One of the key fathering topics this program covers is Family History, which sets the tone for the 12-week 24/7 DAD journey. It’s often one of the most difficult but insightful lessons.

Fathers explore questions like, what was the role of your father or father figure in the home? What is your view of a father in the home today?

Although these may seem like simple questions at first glance, it often stirs up a swirl of complicated thoughts and experiences that have never been processed. Many remember the good attributes of their fathers and focus on positive memories of their childhood.  But some memories are not so welcoming or comforting.

Creating community for dads in all seasons

At the Family Hope Center, we have built a safe environment for fathers to explore the depths of these questions. Fathers can share experiences that have shaped their own decision making as fathers today. Our facilitator is trained to support fathers in their 24/7 DAD journey.  This means guiding fathers through the curriculum as well as connecting fathers with support such as counseling or family coaching.

Those programs are completed in one-on-one sessions in addition to weekly 24/7 DAD class meetings. Other key fathering topics covered in the 24/7 DAD curriculum include What It Means To Be A Man, Communication, Getting Involved with Your Child(ren), among many others.

All in all, 24/7 DAD works to improve the knowledge, behavior and skills of fathers. As a former 24/7 DAD facilitator, I’ve seen firsthand the impact this program has made in both our community and as a father myself.

Getting our newborn baby into her car seat was only the start of many challenges where I needed the support and guidance of other fathers. Although there is no perfect dad and our participants vary in ages, backgrounds and upbringings, it’s promising to know there is a place where fathers can come together to learn and lean on each other in their fatherhood journeys.

Written by Jorge Rodriguez, LMSW, Buckner Family Hope Center® director in Peñitas, Texas.

Learn more about how you can strengthen your family at a local Buckner Family Hope Center®.

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