Food and Freebies
So what can a guy expect when he walks into a new daddy class?
"Food!" says Rebecca Graham, director of Healthcare Programming for the National Fatherhood Initiative. It's simple—guys like food, so a hearty snack makes them feel more at ease. They like sports too, so Graham makes sure her Saturday classes end by 2:30 so everyone gets home in time for afternoon sports broadcasts. Webb not only provides lunch, but tosses out masculine door prizes donated by local businesses such as gift certificates to auto parts stores and boxes of golf balls.
Calling All Dads
If you've never heard about fatherhood classes in your area, don't be surprised. They're a relatively new phenomenon, but one that is rapidly gaining popularity. Most guys hear about classes while attending a co-ed childbirth class, but Aycock and Graham say that word of mouth is their best recruitment tool. Dads who take this type of class typically enter with trepidation but come out ready to tell their friends how great it was. If you'd like to find a fatherhood class in your area, call the local hospitals, OB offices, and churches for references.
Fathers to the Future
While learning how to diaper a baby and when to call the pediatrician is certainly useful, basic baby care isn't the main goal of these classes. Fatherhood is. Graham says, "Men are most eager to be fathers at the birth of their child. The slate is clean. We help them be the best they can be with concrete tools because they are a key component to the development of any child. Without dads, we're missing half the equation."
That's a message men need to hear at a time when all the focus seems to be on their wives and the new babies. The metamorphosis from dude to dad can't be done in a vacuum. Guys need advice and support from other men in a masculine environment that caters to their way of thinking.
"Here's a class about me, that helps me understand what I should be thinking about," says Donohue. "I liked it because it was focused on fathers. It made me excited about my job."