I always said, “Once I had my own child, I didn’t want to ‘raise’ anyone else’s children.” Of course, that was in jest. I think somewhere deep down inside I understood the importance of raising my child. Maybe, it came from years of seeing so many children with the scars of their father’s absence. Perhaps, it was growing up with both of my parents in my home. Who knows?
Anyway, what’s that saying? It goes something like “be careful what you ask for. Because, you might get it.” Guess what? I got it! So, here I am writing you today. I’m the proud parent of a one year old son. And, what’s crazier is that I’m the Fatherhood Specialist for Project HOPES. I guess I couldn’t get away from working with children. I have, simply, crossed over into helping fathers to become active dads. Keep in mind that I have less than one year of experience raising my own child.
What does a newbie dad have to teach other dads about fathering? That’s a good question, and one that I continue to ask myself time and time again. The one thing that I do know is that I don’t have all the answers. That means that I’m in an excellent place to grow alongside the fathers that I’m connecting with in this position. No one really wants to be around a “know it all.” I’m coming in to build up the skills in others. The bonus for me is I’m building up my personal and professional fatherhood skills. It’s a win-win!
Most dads don’t have a manual. Good, bad, or indifferent…we parent based on what we learned from our parents. What I’ve seen from this diverse set of dads is that there is a communality between them. They want to do what’s best for their children, and they recognize their shortcomings. We know that we’re on the right path when we hear “I really need that!” in response to the topic for the upcoming visit or “I didn’t know a program like this existed for dads!” during a home visit.
As I’m learning more about my clients, I’m learning more about being a dad. I’m learning more about how society views fatherhood. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others recognize the importance of fathers in their child’s lives and the overall wellbeing of the larger community.
To enroll in Project HOPES, contact Caitlin Red at [email protected].