This is an open invitation to men who have been through the trauma of divorce and/or Children’s Act Proceedings to get involved with the work of OnlyDads. We set up our local dad’s group a few months ago now, and without doubt, it’s doing good work, and work that can be easily replicated elsewhere. If you can spare a couple of hours once a week and may be interested in hearing more, please read on…
We meet in a pub once a week, on a Monday evening. There is no “membership”, no expectation that anyone will come along more than once or twice (although many do), and no agenda. That said, we do have a few simple rules that we insist upon:
- No “bad-mouthing” of the ex. Of course, dads can and do set out the factual background to their circumstances, but we acknowledged very early on, that other dads who were there might only be a step or two away from knowing the family in question.
- We do not interrupt each other!
- We are there to offer mutual support and the occasional bit of “group” advice, not to pursue any reform or political agenda.
There is another, more obvious rule, and that is we welcome all dad’s regardless of their domestic situation. Step dads, dads who do not get to see their children, and dads who share parenting, through to dads with full residency – all have their place in these groups.
There are many answers to this question! I could go on and on…but I’ll try to keep it simple: So, two reasons:
- When you have spent the week telling your boss that “everything is fine” and you have not wanted to burden your friends with your divorce and separation angst and (for whatever reason) your relationship with your children is not all it might be…well these groups offer a platform for men to come along and “tell it like it is”. But more than that; to tell it like it is in a forum where other dads will not judge because they will have been there and as a result will understand. These groups are empathetic. Think of them as the “school gate” for dads!
- Whichever way you cut it, children benefit from having a dad who feels more supported in his parenting. In our group, we have at least 5 dads who are re-energised to the point they are now actively seeking more parenting time with their children, and all of us who have attended have commented (frequently) that being able to bridge that sense of isolation is a good thing!
It’s all a bit simple!
It is! We got our group up and running with an hour of work. We found a decent pub (we chose one with a garden, good ale, and space enough inside for us to find a corner where we could have some quiet) and issued a press release for the local paper and radio station to tell them what, where, and when. As the whole thing is voluntary, we have no agendas, no treasures or no chairmen. It’s a pint in the pub with a support network. That’s it!
Want to know more?
If you might be interested in launching one of these groups in your locality we would love to hear from you. If we get take-up we will add a map and contact details to our OnlyDads website so dads can more easily find this face-to-face support. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and many thanks for reading.