When leaders of DGI Dads Groups across Australia arrange catch ups for dads and their babies every week, we never know what to expect. There are no complex program deliverables, strict rules or weird speeches. The groups are owned by the communities they support, they provide social connection, informal advice, and a source of camaraderie and fun during a chapter of life that can often be challenging and isolating. Each group promotes healthy social connections with fathers and their infants. For example, one dads group on the Sunny Coast go surfing first, then go home and collect their babies before meeting back at the café. What makes our events unpredictable is you rarely get the same mix of dads and babies each time, some miss out at the last minute due to their baby sleeping, and others join the group by meeting the crew that morning so new connections and friends are made on a weekly basis.
I will share a story with you that defines the essence of what Dads Group Inc is all about. Recently on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, Dad’s of Ascot Vale (DGI) met for their fortnightly coffee at the amazing Little Byrd café. After a few introductions and coffees in hand, five dads with their prams set off up the hill to a local park.
What happened next filled me with joy and gratefulness with a touch of reassurance because I was reminded why Dad’s Group Inc was created. Two dads who had never met before, one from Argentina, the other from New York began speaking Spanish to each other as we walked up the hill. I am not sure if people’s heads were turning because they’d never seen five dads pushing prams together, or if they were enjoying listening to this incredible foreign language.
At the same time, I could see the eyes of their children looking up to their fathers and connecting with them, seeing them in a healthy positive leadership role. Many people are unaware of the amount of connection and relationship that is formed between an infant and his or her father during the early months and years of their life. Despite a mountain of evidence, it’s not uncommon for men to think the relationship only begins when a child can communicate. DGI programs are helping new fathers realise the potential of relationship and connection not only with other fathers but with their children.
There is no question of the effectiveness of peer to peer support for fathers and mothers. For me personally, I am so thankful my wife has formed a great bunch of friends through parents group. The positive impacts it has on relationships and families are significantly evident and the concept is simple really; fathers meet up on a regular basis with their baby, have a coffee and develop strong social connections.
The connections dads are forming in DGI groups are not forced, they are happening organically. I asked one of the dads why he thinks this is the case and he said “we all have our own experiences, we have different stories and information to share, but what brings us closer is that we are all in the same boat and it helps to be together” He added, “it’s also the setting where we meet, it’s casual, it’s comfortable, the expectations are minimal and requires very little effort”.
Creating. Positive. Connections
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