Rare Program for New Fathers Merits Review!

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to a group of fellow professionals, it is always incredibly rewarding. Not only because of the fabulous clinical feedback received from dedicated colleagues, but the discovery of creative, effective facility based programs which the world needs to know about.

Last month, I addressed a room of perinatal professionals at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital. As always, I am in awe of the fantastic work that is helping move our issue forward. The energy and interest in the room made it an inspirational evening for all of us, courtesy of Jo Leonard RN MA FACCE who is the Director of Parent Family Education at the hospital.

After the presentation, I was delighted to meet staff and in particular one gentleman, Charles Ehrhardt, LCSW who has contributed mightily to the work of bringing new fathers into the fold. Following is a description of his program, ideas and website. Please visit his website and know that Charles is also available to provide educational seminars or speak at your next event!

Says Charles, “… I have been teaching a class for new and expectant fathers in NY hospitals for about 14 years now. Sadly, as far as I know, I am the ONLY one teaching a prep class for new dads in the entire NYC metro area. While there are several groups that organize dads for “playdates” of their own, or mentoring programs ie: “Boot Camp for Dads”, there is nothing to alert men as to the sea changes they are about to go through emotionally; the skills they will have to acquire in order to communicate with their children; the art of co-parenting; the management of the changing relationship with their partner; time management; the definition of “quality time” ; skills for financial management; tasks, resources and goals of child development, and a varied assortment of topics that are often introduced as the course unfolds.”

“…Some of the “unscripted” topics have been: managing in-laws; dealing w/ pets, partners who travel often, step-siblings, multiple births, gay parents, incarcerated parents, disabled parents, and what some of the real, concrete responsibilities of the dads are, like the sharing of housework, visits to the pediatrician together, etc.”

“…It is my opinion that every agency/facility that offers a parent education syllabus should specifically include something for fathers. New dads have their own issues to deal with, and it sometimes feels to THEM (and is unfortunately too true), that there is no one around interested in listening or helping THEM. As such they feel like more of an adjunct parent than an equal…”

“… Research has demonstrated that a father’s presence in a child’s life has an enormous influence on their emotional, intellectual, physical, and social development—so why are they often ignored throughout a mother’s pregnancy and beyond? ..”

Thanks Charles for contributing to this blog! I hooked Charles up with Wendy Davis, Executive Director at Postpartum Support International so we can work to bring Charles’s wisdom and experience to the families we seek to reach. PSI facilitiates month Chats for New Dads, an invaluable service which has lived too long under the radar. To find out more about these chats visit Postpartum Support International’s website.

To learn more about Charles and his programs, click the following link : www.dadday.net

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