Whether “planned” or “unplanned”, pregnancies and children, while amazing blessings themselves, can also lead to great stress and anxiety.
These fears and emotional roller coasters are generally felt by all involved. Mothers are the first to recognize the change, the one required to attend appointments, entrusted to make decisions, and often reaching out for help when it all becomes so overwhelming.
At the same time, the feelings and roles of fathers can’t be marginalized and ignored.
While support and outreach for mothers, expecting and experienced, is more widely recognized, there is also support available for fathers facing the same feelings and responsibilities that come with parenthood. Here are some ways local fathers can get involved with local resources to make the transition to and journey through fatherhood more manageable.
For fathers who are preparing for fatherhood, Pregnancy Care Center offers support beyond that for the mother and baby.
“When a new dad visits our center, we are proactive to connect with him in the waiting area,” says Steve Proffitt, fatherhood director at Pregnancy Care Center. “A simple introduction and conversation about him and his needs lowers their anxiety level and lets him know that PCC is not just about pregnant women, but we are here to help him in his journey to fatherhood, as well.”
That help comes in the form of group sessions, couples sessions, and individual fatherhood coaching, and is available to any father that walks through the PCC doors. Group sessions offered by PCC for expecting fathers include:
This group meets twice for a combined six hours, in which expecting fathers discuss their own experience with their fathers and how they can make the relationship better with their own children. Topics like the father’s role as a provider, protector and spiritual leader in their home are discussed, and there is couple relationship education offered to further increase relationship success, having a positive effect on the family and child(ren).
Boot Camp for New Dads
This is a small group that has “veteran” dads bring their 4–8 month old babies into a group of “rookie” dads expecting their babies soon. This three-hour group session lets expecting fathers express their fears and concerns and get real answers from those that are currently living in the situation. This group does not allow any mothers present, so veteran dads are feeding, changing diapers and attending to their babies, and in doing so, encouraging rookie dads that they too can do this.
This 3-hour session seeks to give dads the tools and confidence to get involved in situations that are often passed on to the mother. Four basic areas of child care are covered, including child safety, children’s health, how to handle child sicknesses, like colds and flu, and how to offer care to injured children, from emergency situations to a simple cut.
Proffitt says PCC offers more groups that benefit the couple and the father, including: Parenting 101 (early childhood development birth to toddler); Parents and the Law (legal issues related to custody, paternity, visitation, and child support); Partners For Life (Relationship Education i.e. tools in communication, conflict resolution, expectations, roles and responsibilities, etc.); Money Management (budgeting, credit, landlord/tenant information, and much more); Labor and Birth; Nutrition; and Smoke Free homes.
“These couple classes offered to strengthen the relationship and family dynamic,” he says, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the relationship between mother and father to have a positive impact on their family, their children’s future, and society.
Having the tools before birth to grow into a healthy family are crucial.
However, things happen and life changes. While anxiety about parenthood can, and almost certainly does, last through the child’s life, these feelings—and more—can be compounded by the stress that comes when fathers are facing single parenthood, the military lifestyle and incarceration.
That is when the Daddyhood Project can help.
Open to all fathers and families seeking help, the Daddyhood Project specifically focuses on single dads, incarcerated dads, military dads, and the families of each.
Jay Goff, founder of the Daddyhood Project, says he “recognized a lack of resources and support for the fathers in the area” facing these stresses. Combined with acknowledging that he needed such encouragement, influence and mentoring support himself as a father, he began the Daddyhood Project in 2010.
“I understand the pains and struggles of wanting to be a great dad, but not having the resources, encouragement, or support to become that, especially as a divorced dad,” Goff says. “Many fathers have told me that they wished they could find the support that moms were getting and that they felt left behind in many cases.”
There are no criteria to join the Daddyhood Project; Goff says the best way for men to get involved, whether they come seeking guidance or to offer mentorship, is to sign up for updates on the ministry’s Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/daddyhoodproject.
For Us All
For mothers and fathers alike, seeking guidance and support for parenting and their relationship can be an invaluable investment into their family and child(ren). For some, reaching out for such support may be natural, but for others, it may be difficult to ask for help.
“Most of our clients are coming from a dysfunctional, if not chaotic, family history and have limited knowledge of what
a healthy relationship and family should look like. Even though most desire something different, they need help
believing it is even possible.” ~ Steve Proffitt, fatherhood director at Pregnancy Care Center.
For More Information
Pregancy Care Center
Phone: (417) 877-0800