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NEWS | April 16, 2013

New Fathers Workshop: For fathers, by fathers

By Senior Airman Teresa Aber 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Many parenting workshops are geared toward teaching expectant mothers the ins and outs of motherhood, but in today's society, fathers also play a large and active role in their children's lives.

Luckily for these new and expecting fathers, resources are available at Langley to help them with the challenges of fatherhood. The 633rd Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy Outreach Program offers New Fathers Workshops as a way to help prepare new and expecting fathers for their journey into fatherhood.

"Fatherhood is very critical to young children," said U.S. Public Health Service Commander Bryan Davidson, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron director of psychological health. "This class offers an opportunity for expectant fathers to gather and talk about the core expectations they have for fatherhood and be able to answer any questions and concerns they may have."

The most recent class was held April 11 and offered a lesson plan on parenting do's and don'ts, and discussed the more involved role that fathers have in their children's lives today. Topics included baby-proofing, diaper changing, bathing tips, crying, deployments and many others. For the attendees, these discussions were eye-opening.

"There are a lot of safety tips and parenting methods that I had never heard of or even thought of before," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ralph Oliver, 45th Intelligence Squadron first sergeant and first-time expectant father. "Knowledge is power and you can never know too much when it comes to raising a child."

The workshop, led by Davidson who is also a father, discussed the difference between the roles fathers played fifty years ago as the bread-winner and disciplinarian, and the more involved and active role fathers play now.

The workshop also focused on Shaken Baby Syndrome, an injury to a baby caused by being shaken violently and repeatedly, causing swelling of the brain, internal bleeding, detached retinas and many other traumas. The class discussed some of the triggers that can cause SBS, and ways to recognize different types of crying.

"Crying has a tendency to push buttons, especially when a person is already under stress or tired," said Linda Hough, Family Advocacy Outreach manager. "The worst mistake a parent can do is to let their stress level get to the point of accidentally shaking or harming their child out of frustration."

While many of the topics covered areas for new and expecting fathers, even experienced fathers benefited from the class.

"It's been a while since I've had a baby in my house and the class has helped me recharge and get some refresher points," said Mater Sgt. Byron Rauch, father of three and currently expecting his fourth daughter. "Hearing other fathers' comments and opinions on the way they have done things has given me a different perspective on things I might not have thought about while my three were smaller."

Family Advocacy hopes to have this workshop quarterly for fathers to take advantage. They are also planning to have different fathers lead the class each quarter to gain different perspectives and advice for new and expecting fathers.

"We're encouraging these fathers to be more loving and actively involved in their children's lives," said Davidson. "I think there are few roles in our lives more important that being a parent and we should receive and understand a child as a gift that is precious and worth our vested interest."

For more information regarding the workshop, contact Linda Hough, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy Outreach Program manager at linda.hough@langley.af.mil