Lara Stewart-Panko

Daddy Educere

It's long been a desire of mine to create and facilitate a group for fathers*, in part because they're woefully undersupported in our community, plus I enjoy spending time with menfolk. I've held back because I'm not a father, so who am I to fill such a role? Well, I'm a seasoned parent and educator with plenty of experience working with dads in other capacities, and as the genderqueer person I am, it's been suggested I'm "man enough" for the job, and I don't disagree. šŸ™‚ It appears the time has come to let the world know that I'm holding space for more daddies to step into their power.

What I've observed over the past 20ish years is that too many guys get robbed of their fullest, best, healthiest experience of fatherhood due to systemic faults like social conditioning, lack of mentoring and twisted, often-contradictory messaging around what good fathering can be. There are a lot of beautiful men whose gifts and strengths have been lost to them, their children and their partners. We are right to counter this; we all need these powerful contributions.

Some of the specific barriers to males fully rocking their parenthood include: lack of education with respect to child development, childcare, communication and behaviour management, family-of-origin traumas and teachings, oppressive gender role factors (patriarchy hurts everyone), complicating relationship dynamics with their partners, extended family members and friends, personal health and functional concerns, lack of resources or unawareness of how to make use of the resources available, including time, money, places and tools.

Men are too often isolated in their fathering, not sure who to connect with about parenting issues, and many of them buy into the belief they're less competent than their partners when it comes to raising children. While we may see general differences between men and women when it comes to parenting, much of these differences are NOT biological (some are); interacting with children well is a skill set that all people can develop. Yes, some people will be more suited to spending time with kids, just the way some of us are better with sports, animals or math, but parenting is such a common function, those of us with kids are wise to spend time getting pretty good at it. We and our children are so very worth it.

So back to Daddy Educere...educere is a term I've long fancied. It's a Latin word that meansĀ to lead, to draw out, bring forth.Ā It's the root of the wordĀ educate and is related to the termĀ educare. As a father is led and his power is drawn out, so, too, can he lead and draw out the gifts of his children. This will have a ripple effect on other members of the family, friend network and broader community. This is positive social change.

The group format is a maximum of 6 men meeting for 1.5 hours each week for 7 weeks. The fee will be according to a new approach I'm experimenting with: the gift system. With this, participants are invited toĀ decide for themselves what tuition amount feels right, clear, and fair, reflecting their financial condition as well as their feeling of value, gratitude and desire to compensate moi for my time and what I'm bringing to the table. In-kind donations are also an option; please refer to the Wishlist. Through a variety of exercises we'll cover personal values, strengths, vulnerabilities, areas of growth, child development, play and other aspects of childcare, communication, discipline and behaviour management, being tuned in and connected, mental health and partnership considerations. Evidence-based information will be woven into engaging activities, and I guarantee I'll be packing my sense of humour.

If you've got a dad in your life who might be into this type of group, please put him in touch with me. I'm honoured, excited and eager to support more men in realizing their gifts. Come join with me and other fathers to rise and shine, Daddio!

Registration details will be made available soon once the preferred time slot has been determined. If you wish to declare your preferred time slot, please email me at lara@larastewartpanko.com. Current leading options are: Saturdays Nov. 14, 21, 28, Dec. 5, 12, 19, Jan. 2 either 10-11:30am OR 1-2:30pm, or Mondays Nov. 16, 23, 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28 7-8:30pm. Kindly also advise if you'd prefer to join a group in 2021. Thank you for your input!

*In this post I use terms likeĀ father, men, guys, etc. I am using these terms to refer to any person that self-identifies as a man, and I want non-binary folks to know I'm thinking of you here as well, even if my terminology is less than fully inclusive.

**The photo for this post is my friend, D, and his youngest, N. It's a lovey candid shot I'm happy to have gotten of them!

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