From Dude to Dad: Parenting Classes for Men
Brian and Camie Donohue are typical expectant parents. They dutifully signed up for the Infant CPR, Childbirth Preparation, and Breastfeeding 101 classes offered by their local hospital. Together, they sat with other anxious couples as a registered nurse explained the stages of labor and how to swaddle a newborn. But it just wasn’t enough for Brian. He needed something more. So one night a week, he left his heavily pregnant wife to her pickles and ice cream to kick back with the guys and shoot the breeze about things that were on his mind … things like pacifiers and diaper cream.
That’s right. Brian is among the growing numbers of men who choose to attend all male fathering seminars in an effort to arm themselves with the ultimate parenting tool—information!
Why Just Guys?
Let’s face it, the majority of baby books out there are aimed at women, and moms do most of the research when it comes to newborn care. Dads are dragged along to child prep classes with their swollen wives but tend to remain mute during the discussions, silently counting the minutes until they can escape to the safety of the car.
“Men don’t want to look stupid or dumb,” explains Chuck Aycock, a Minneapolis-based counselor with 15 years of experience working with new dads. “Guys think, ‘If I ask that question in front of my wife, she’ll think I already ought to know that, so I just won’t ask,’” he says. Aycock finds that men are much more likely to speak frankly and “take the gloves off” when they’re among a group of like-minded peers.
Donohue says the men-only classes he attended in Minneapolis were definitely different from the co-ed ones. “The guys spoke more and they got to blow off a little steam instead of being careful around their pregnant wives,” he says. New father Michael Newkirk had a similar experience when he attended the Training Camp for New Dads in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “While everything else is for Mom and Baby, this was totally geared toward dads.”
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