What to Expect

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A typical Caring Dad’s group usually runs for 2 hours, one night a week, for 17 weeks. There are usually 8-12 fathers registered in each group; children and mothers do not attend. Groups are co-led by male and female facilitators. Men give feedback to each other and share experiences of fathering. They are expected to complete a short homework assignment during the week.

The goals of a Caring Dad’s group are to improve fathers’ relationship with their child and family, and to help them to better understand children’s development and needs. Some of the topics explored include:

  •  Building relationships with your children through child-centred fathering
  •  Recognizing unhealthy, hurtful, abusive and neglectful behaviours
  •  Effect on children of exposure to the abuse of their mother
  •  Stages of child development – what to expect
  •  Reading to and playing with your children
  •  Responding to children’s needs
  •  Positive communication
  •  Working together with children’s mothers
  •  Problem solving in difficult situations & managing frustration
  •  Alternatives to punishment
  •  Rebuilding trust and healing
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How You Might Be Feeling

Men come to groups with a range of feelings including:

  •  Guilt and shame for their past behavior towards their children
  •  Resentment – I don’t belong here, the problem isn’t me, it’s my child’s mother
  •  Fear of being judged
  •  Hopeful that they can improve their relationship with their child
  •  Overwhelmed by the changes that need to be made

These feelings are normal and will be shared by other men in the group. In Caring Dad’s groups fathers are encouraged to work together, giving feedback to each other and sharing experiences with the common goal of building healthier relationships with their children and their children’s mother.