Article written by Si Lam: OLA dad and attendee
Guest Speaker, Steven Rushforth introduced us to The Fathering Project, whose aim is to help fathers and father figures be better parents and raise our children as best as possible. Founded by Dr Bruce Robinson, a cancer specialist, who time and time again heard the same regrets from dying men:
1 - Work wasn't as important as I thought.
2 - I wish I could have spent more time with my family / with my kids.
3 - I wish someone had told me this at the start.
Steven Rushforth was a school principal for 18 years where he saw vast examples of parenting and the dramatic effect a father, or father figure, can have on a child’s life. For instance kids notice everything, especially how dads communicate with mums.
Steven explained that more than anything, kids need your time and your unconditional love. Just eight minutes of your undivided attention per child per day can have dramatic effects. Dads have the power to save their child's life - if they were drowning you wouldn't hesitate to jump in, same goes for the small stuff like coming to look at the strange bug crawling up the wall. If you're not around to listen to the small stuff how can they turn to you when there is a bigger problem.
One really strong message to take away from the evening was the importance of dad or father figure dates. Just dad and one child, no other adults, no other children and NO distractions. Just time to listen to and connect with your child and filling them with a huge sense that they matter and are worthwhile.
Steven also gave us an overview of fathering groups at other schools and how to get one started at OLA. In forming an OLA group, we can build a support network for fathers and father figures and a community to build interaction and share knowledge and skills. OLAF was suggested as a possible name!
The Fathering Project motto is BUS: Being there, Unconditional love, make them feel Special. And you can sign up for weekly tips at www.thefatheringproject.org/sign-up
Thanks to all the dads and father figures that made it to the evening. And thanks to our teachers, Bruno De Pietro and Brian McIntyre and Principal, Greg Martin.