Father Time: Dads and Parental Leave:

Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets has done what many fathers wish they could do – take some time off with the birth of their child.  But his decision was met with a mix of reactions.  You can see to a report on CBC’s The National here.

In the wake of Murphy’s 3 day paternity leave (which is the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball), I can’t help wondering about the implications of his decision.  I remember 17 years ago when my first daughter was born.  There was no leave for fathers.  There was not talk about support for men, about the transition to parenthood for fathers, or about what their role will be in the nurturing of their children.  Jenna was born on Friday morning.  I took the weekend off and was back at work on Monday.  With Carrie and Eryn, things were basically the same.  But have we come any further in encouraging and allowing men to be more present during those first crucial months of their babies’ lives?

Barriers for fathers taking leave still persist.  Here are a few I hear of from time to time.

  • “I didn’t know it was an option.”  We need to get some better education out there about the options for fathers.  Here is a helpful Ministry of Labour Ontario site: http://goo.gl/PZUqqj.  Guys, make sure you have all the details.
  • “My employer won’t allow it”.  Legally, an employer can’t say “no”, but I have spoken with many men who know it will be career suicide if they take leave.
  • “My buddies give me a hard time.”  Many dads hear comments like “enjoy your vacation” as they begin some leave.  But caring for a baby is anything BUT a vacation.  Just ask a mom.
  • “We can’t afford it”.  There is some disparity still between the average salaries of men and women.  Therefore it is often more financially feasible for the family if dad continues to work and mom uses the parental leave.
  • “My Dad thinks I’m crazy.”  Yes, times have changed.  What fathers are expected and allowed to do today are different than they were previously.
  • “I don’t know if I can handle it.”  Many men go into fatherhood cautiously.  They may feel like they won’t know what to do, they will be bored, or their may make mistakes.  My answer to all these: yes, those all may happen.  But no father I have spoken with has regretted taking time out of their lives for their baby.  And we dads learn pretty quick;)  Check out the 24 Hr Cribside Assistance for New Dads for some tips.
  • “She wants the whole thing!”  Many moms feel the importance of the time with their babies and how fast that time will go.  They may find it hard to share the time; and that’s OK.  Just make sure you both talk about it.

Should fathers take parental leave?  I think so.  But here are just a couple things to consider:

  • babies whose fathers take leave have a strong bond with their dads.
  • fathers who take leave never regret it and are often more hands-on fathers down the road.
  • this is an decision for you to make as a couple.  Make sure you talk about it.
  • know your legal rights and obligations around parental leave.

A dad’s role is more than to work and provide for his family.  Caring, communicating, guiding, inspiring our children – these all take time and they can all begin with birth.  So Dad, do all you can with the time you’ve got.  You won’t regret it.

– posted by Brian Russell, Provincial Coordinator of Dad Central Ontario –

Portuguese Speaking Dads Celebrating Fatherhood

Fathers Family Picnic July 6, 2013 008The Portuguese Speaking Fathers Group at St. Christopher House is a group of fathers and their children, primarily between the ages of 0 to 6, that meet every other Saturday, and its central purpose is to enhance parental skills and strengthen the bond between fathers and their young children. The program has made a significant impact in the lives of the participating families by demonstrating the natural abilities of fathers and how important their role is to the success of the entire family.

The Portuguese Speaking Fathers Group Picnic BBQ event took place on July 6, 2013 at Coronation Park. We celebrated fathers’ accomplishments by bringing together fathers and their families in a day full of fun, sun and a great BBQ lunch. Many of the existing fathers of the group took an active role in organizing aspects of the (for instance, booking the park site, purchasing food and BBQ supplies, cooking the BBQ, helping with set-up and clean-up, as well as organizing/leading soccer and badminton games). One parent in particular led a wonderful magic show for us. He’s been doing magic for many years and he performed fun magic tricks for children and adults alike. This was a great way to showcase some of the talent  and interests of the fathers and to engage new fathers in the group.

Brochures and flyers about the Father’s Group and resources about  parenting and father involvement were distributed at the end of the picnic BBQ.

Check out http://www.stchrishouse.org for more information.
Fathers Family Picnic July 6, 2013 030     Fathers Family Picnic July 6, 2013 025

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Giggles with Daddy

Grey Bruce Health Unit ran its 4th Annual ‘Guys Caring for Kids’ Photo Contest  just after Father’s Day in June, 2013. Men and women were encouraged to send in their photos of men, fathers and father figures alike, celebrating those small moments but that are so great in the lives of little ones. This past year, over 60 photo entries were received.

This photo contest challenged individuals to capture the visual stories of men in caring relationships with children. While men are continually involved in the lives of children the majority of images of adults engaging with children still feature women. Numerous organizations in Grey and Bruce came together to raise the profile, celebrate and further encourage the role of men in the lives of children.

 An awards ceremony was held on August 20th, to recognize the top winners and acknowledge the vast number of entries. To further enhance this event for the father’s involved and the community, a banner is created each year with the winning photographs, and displayed throughout the community to promote the importance of father involvement throughout the year.

This event builds momentum each year and hundreds of families through the Grey and Bruce areas continue to recognize the vital role men have in the lives of children.

 Safe Place

“A smile, a click, a flash in time, a memory became; A photograph, a picture past, life captured in a frame.”

Zoldy Portrait

A Man to Count On – Training in Thunder Bay

A man to count on makes family time a priority.

A man to count on makes family time a priority.

A man to count on.  What does it mean to be a father who people look up to, respect, and enjoy being around?  How does a father earn those traits these days?  What does the relationship he has with mom mean to the children?  These are the types of questions we are addressing in the A Man to Count On project.  This is a new discussion for us – the intersection of new fatherhood and intimate partner abuse (IPA), but our focus is beyond violence and abuse to developing support and resources that support couple relationships during the transition to parenthood.  New parenthood is an important time.  Many things change for couples – their time together, their expectations, their communication, and sometimes their feelings towards each other.  Dad Central is pleased to have the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada to develop workshops, a booklet, info sheets and videos that address the ways fathers can build healthy relationships with their partners.  And it goes without saying that this can only benefit the child.

Craig Brochmann and Brian Russell facilitated a full-day training in Thunder Bay on Jan 29 that opened up the discussion around fatherhood and IPA.  Almost 80 people attended and participated in small and large group dialogue on the importance of fathers, the ways men transition to fatherhood, the impact of abuse on relationships and parenting, and how we can support couple relationships during pregnancy and after birth.  They also had a sneak peek at Dad, Renovate Your Relationship (a booklet for new fathers), the workshops being developed for fathers, and one of the videos soon to be released on http://www.newdadmanual.ca.

Here is what people were saying about the training:

  • Really enjoyed the camaraderie of the facilitators – a nice balance of the theory/practice with personal stories and application.
  • The variety of formats (video, small/large group discussions) made it easy to pay attention.
  • I could use more of a focus on programming and what to do to engage dads.
  • I think there is value in framing much of this material as a “human experience” to highlight how men & women are similar, in addition to giving insight into their differences.

Three more training sessions will be taking place across Ontario before the end of March with one more being planned for May 2014.  Sign up for the Dad Central newsletter (www.dadcentral.ca), follow @dadsontario on Twitter and “like” dadcentralontario on Facebook to stay connected with all training opportunities.

For more information on this project contact brian@dadcentral.ca

The Joy of Fatherhood

Desiring to protect, but wanting to let live. To have more freedoms than I had, but with the safety I give. To guide them, not shape them into who they will be. To love them, not push them to be something for me. Encouraging their decisions while helping along the way. Being there at the beginning and end of each day. It is my duty to be all of these things and through it all experience the joy it brings. – Cole Bradburn

Fatherhood is a gift

“Fatherhood is a gift given to you when that tiny hand reaches for yours. A promise you make to love unconditionally even when time are hard and life lessons are being taught. Don’t strive to be the perfect father, instead give your children the gift of unbreakable devotion found in the eyes of a daddy.” – Valerie King

Responsibility

“A man doesn’t need to be flawless to be a perfect father, but the commitment to his family is a precious responsibility.” – Paul Young

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