I was speaking yesterday on the radio about my reactions to the Family Justice Review. While I was being interviewed I had two conversations with dads running through my head.
The first took place on Christmas Day last year. Presents opened and turkey in the oven, I popped into the OnlyDads office to pick up any telephone messages (Christmas is an emotionally fraught time for many lonely dads). As I walked into the office the phone was ringing…
…the quivering voice on the other end told me that he only got to see his son every other month for a few hours. He was due to see him the next day (Boxing Day) but that he felt, because of the long gaps between contact, he “was forgetting how to love him”. The Dad broke down midway through our conversation, and couldn’t speak. He was a broken man.
This 5 minute episode haunts me to this day and makes me more determined to drive OnlyDads forward.
The second took place at our last Totnes Dads Group. One Dad was telling our group that four years ago, after a superb CAFCASS report, the Court issued a contact order for midweek contact (a few hours around tea-time) and weekends with Dad. “How is it then”, he asked us, “that I haven’t been able to see my daughter for over three months?”
There were and are no easy answers. Mum doesn’t want him to have contact. That seems to be that! What can he try next after repeated attempts to mediate and find a workable solution, all to end in failure!?
I have digested the Family Justice Review and concluded that for years to come there will still be hundreds of thousands of Dads struggling to retain and build loving relationships with their children because of limited contact.
Our local group has been running for a few months now. We organise it like this:
- We meet in a pub with a garden and a “snug” that we can take over if needed to afford privacy.
- Every dad gets to tell their “story” without interruption.
- We offer support in the way of empathy and understanding.
- There is NO politics. These groups are about supporting dads who want to do their very best by their children.
- We are not judgemental – dads need to feel able to share information in a caring environment. Our groups offer a brotherly shoulder to lean on.
Can You Help?
Setting up our supportive dads group took a morning. I found a suitable pub (thank you to the Bay Horse in Totnes), and issued a quick press release explaining what we were up to to our local paper. A few flyers around town later and we were up and running.
Can you spare the time to do something similar? So long as the “No Politics” rule is followed, we are open to the idea of you running these “in association” with OnlyDads
The Bottom Line
Our fledgling group – we are still finding our feet in many ways – has resulted in at least 11 dads now spending more time with their children. Perhaps, as a group, we have been able to give them strength and encouragement to find alternative solutions, we don’t know. But the facts speak for themselves. This is not a call to arms! Rather, it’s a call to the local for some brotherly support and encouragement.
Please contact Bob firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to make any suggestions and/or set up your own local group.