Father's claim your place! The credo at Calgary Family Services new father's group elicits a curious mix of zeal and uncertainty in the hearts of its participants.
This experiential group invites fathers to enter the lives of their young children in a dynamic and powerful way: through interactive play. William. S. Pollack, Ph.D., a specialist in the study of men and masculinity, calls this action love and asserts that it's an important gift that a father can bring to his child. Through shared activities, Pollack asserts that fathers display understanding and caring and model tenderness and competence for their children.
Traditionally, a father's role in childcare has been limited by his position as financial provider. Outside of teaching and disciplining, men have received little direction or mentoring in their role as a parent. Today, both men and women are questioning the traditional father role and are struggling to create something new.
Enroute to this new definition of father-hood many mensearch in vain for a quality road map. The staff at Calgary Family Services, in collaboration with Calgary Family Connections have created just such a map, in the form of a playgroup designed specifically for fathers and their young children. The partner of one group participant, noted that her husband was reluctant to engage with their child, simply because he didn't know what to do with a young child.
Fathers who have participated in the agency's playgroup report increased confidence and identify themselves as having greater influence with their children. The group focuses on teaching fathers play-based parenting strategies, thereby enabling them to become an active and physical presence in their child's life.
So Dads, the next time you're stuck for something to do with your little one, get down on their level and try one of the following activities: Tipsy Tower: Take turns adding blocks to build a tower. See how high you can make it before it tumbles to the ground. Remember to celebrate the crash!
Mirror, Mirror: Sit face to face with your child. Have your child pretend to be a mirror, copying each of your actions or facial expressions. Remember to move slowly for younger children and no talking!
Toilet Paper Bust-Out: Carefully wrap your child from their feet to their shoulders in toilet paper. Have your child wait for a special signal from you (a wink or a 10-count) before busting out! Initiate a playful snowball fight and then race to fill the wastepaper basket.
Maureen is a Counselor with Calgary Family Services. For more information on play-based parenting or to learn more about the father-child playgroup please contact Calgary Family Services 269-9888.
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