Parent and toddler work can transform relationships and strengthen families, yet sometimes men may have very limited access to the parent and toddler world.
This book gives a practical guide for setting up and running monthly Who Let The Dads Out?/i> sessions, complete with theological background, real-life case studies, helpful hints and tips, and twelve easy craft ideas.
Mark Chester introduces 'Who Let the dads Out?'
'I bumped into a friend recently, and she noticed my furrowed brow. I was feeling under enormous pressure and the sensitive soul that she is changed my mood completely with just a few encouraging words. She told me that her friend's husband went with his son to a dad and toddler group. "He wouldn't step foot inside a church normally," she said, "but he won't miss a Who Let The Dads Out?session." It was music to my ears.
Who Let The Dads Out? began in March 2003 at Hoole Baptist Church in Chester. Some mums on a parenting course at the church complained about how little the fathers of their children and their children spent together, so we responded by setting up a special session for dads and their toddlers.
A Who Let The Dads Out? session is simple. A church takes a normal parent and toddler session, moves it to a Saturday, incorporates masculine touches, such as bacon butties and newspapers, and targets it specifically at fathers and male guardians and their children. It is a format that has worked in many churches and has had a positive impact on people's lives.
'Dave is a stay-at-home dad to three sons. It is a lonely business, and Dave was desperate for contact with other fathers. At his first Who Let The Dads Out? session, he couldn't quite believe seeing so many dads in one place having fun with their toddler children. He quickly became a regular.
'As the children at Who Let The Dads Out? grew older and started school, we launched a new group called School's Out, Dad's About (SODA) Club. When Dave's children started school, he took them along to SODA Club.
'For those dads who wanted to explore their fathering roles in more depth, we also offered a parenting programme specifically for dads called Daddy Cool! and Dave joined this too. The last session of Daddy Cool! is about passing on values and beliefs, and, perhaps surprisingly, many of the men found this the most enjoyable session, so we set up a group for men to explore very basic aspects of faith and spirituality, called Soul Man? Dave became a member of the group.
'A few years later, and Dave now goes to church with his family. "I do have faith that things will work out," he says. "I pray about family issues and concerns, and I often pray with the boys at bedtime. My faith has deepened and I get more from church than I used to."