Article by Steve Hodgson, BASIC Church Parramatta

Becoming a parent is one of the biggest transitions we face in our lifetime. The good news is we don’t have to do it alone. The Dads Cooperative seeks to connect Dads with other Dads, so that they can thrive as parents.

BASIC Church in Parramatta has partnered with the local Parramatta Council and Careworks to run a pilot program aimed at targeting new fathers with support and encouragement. Through fortnightly Dads and Kids Breakfasts in Parramatta Park and regular parenting seminars, the Dads Cooperative Project is offering a place for fathers to find help and peer support in this stage of transition.

The Dads Cooperative Project began with a realization that although there is a growing understanding and social expectation that Fathers need to take an active positive primary role in the parenting of their children, there are few intentional spaces available for Dads to find support, encouragement and learning as they navigate this new season. With a lack of support or place to seek help, many Dads find the transition isolating as well as stressful resulting in higher levels of mental illness, family anxiety and other associated family and relational stress.

Many community initiatives targeting those in the early stages of parenting tend to be maternally focused, some intentionally and others by default by those who access the service. However increasingly with the shifting of gender roles, more and more fathers find themselves as primary care-givers or sharing the responsibility of care for their children. Traditional gendered family roles are shifting, meaning fathers are more hands on then ever before. This is a great cultural shift that is occurring, however services to support Dads who want to be more active in primary care to their children are lacking.

We believe that in many communities, the Church is positively placed to help bridge this gap, and the churches vision for the flourishing of families makes it ideal for creating environment where both parents can be encouraged to fulfill their role as positive parents who strive for the best outcomes for their children. The Dads Cooperative wants to meet this need in the Parramatta area.

Funded by a community grant that seeks to provide primary prevention strategies to reduce domestic violence against women, the Dads Cooperative Project kicked off on Saturday 2nd September with their first Dads and Kids Breakfast BBQ. About a dozen fathers from around the Parramatta area gathered, gave their partners a morning off and had a great time connecting over B&E rolls, coffee and kids.  Those gathered were from a diverse array of backgrounds, but all saw the need for a space for Fathers to find support and to be encouraged in being proactive in parenting their young kids.

Please be praying for The Dads Cooperative project as we make meaningful connections with families in Parramatta and as we offer support to new parents.

If you want to find out more information about The Dads Cooperative Project please check out Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheDadsCooperativeProject/  or donate here.