Reflections on the Side-by-Side Conference

A couple people offered their reflections on the Side-by-Side conference that took place last week.  Here are their thoughts:

It takes a village to raise a child

I attended to support the organization I founded, Inspire Community Outreach, in better understanding the complex social needs fathers face within society, and to answer: “How can we invite Dads into our programming and help them feel valued and welcome?” because, don’t we all want to feel welcomed?

We know the role of caregivers is important. The link between the flourishing of the child and caregivers feeling empowered and equipped is one we as service providers know well.

I reflected on my partner Mike, who I am so grateful for in my life. We raise 4 amazing children together, and have been together 13 years. I thought about how parenting support is framed mainly for mothers, and how the most incredible dads are up against so much, and have very few available supports. There is so much gender bias; women are encouraged to reach out for support, and men often hear, “man up.”

We can make our children and families healthier by including dads, so how can we do that? Let’s keep asking and listening. Start the conversation. Whether it is by having compassion and understanding for fathers we work alongside, or creating networks of fathers to connect with, there is a lot we can do.

Hearing from men directly about what is important to them, their different perspectives on what is needed and helpful is something I found encouraging. We strive to have all caregivers feel welcome, and being able to hear what works and what doesn’t will save our community-run organization a great deal of time and resources. It takes a village to raise a child, so let’s include everybody.

by Angela Taylor

Executive Director and Founder
Inspire Community Outreach

Day two of the 2nd Canadian National Fatherhood Conference in Winnipeg, MB, hosted by Dads Central did not disappoint. The keynote speaker of the day was Dr. Phillip Sevigny, longtime fatherhood researcher from Luther College, University of Regina, who shared his invaluable research with the gathered audience.  Dr. Sevigny’s research interests have focused on the changing role of men within the family, exploring fathers’ parenting beliefs, and examining the transition to fathering.

After a break the conference concluded with yet another series of workshops including: Dads in Gear, a fatherhood program located in British Columbia, a workshop entitled Promising Futures for Young Dads given by practitioners from Edmonton, Alberta and another workshop entitled Dads Make a Difference: Activities and Resources to Support Father Engagement was offered by people from yet another location in the country, Saskatchewan. Finally, Support for Dads also presented their workshop: Dads – The Other Essential Parent, given by two fathers and co-founders of Support for Dads from New Brunswick.

The 2nd Canadian National Fatherhood Conference was a great success for all that attended. What I personally enjoyed most was the networking. The opportunity to meet, share and learn from so many other parties, from all over the country who are interested in men, in fatherhood, in vulnerable fathers, and supporting fathers to be healthy, engaged, and present in their families was truly a blessing. What I will take away from this conference is that fathers are truly to be valued. Fathers are essential. Healthy fathers, are absolutely crucial to the development of healthy children, and I for one hope to see more healthy fathers and therefore more healthy children in the very near future. If I could give one critique about the conference, I would say to Dads Central, this should be an annual conference and not be only hosted bi-annually.

by Chris Pellerin
Support for Dads, New Brunswick


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