Fatherhood Program Empowers Refugee Dads - SHIM

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Fatherhood Program Empowers Refugee Dads

Smiling Netra with kidNetra Kafley, Fatherhood Program Coordinator

SHIM programs work to holistically help families address barriers to build healthy lives. One of the lesser-known programs is our Fatherhood Program. This program grew from interest among students enrolled in our Nurturing Parenting classes. Most of the participants were moms, and they expressed their desire to have the dads learn parenting skills too. Even though dads are invited to attend Nurturing Parenting classes, it is less common for them to participate.

I began researching ways to help dads in our local refugee and immigrant community. I received a couple of trainings from 24/7 DAD (A Curriculum developed by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) for their fatherhood training program, which encourages fathers to be involved, responsible, and committed to their children 24 hours 7 days a week. I also received training from Promundo –US on their Manhood 2.0: A Curriculum Promoting a Gender-Equitable Future of Manhood curriculum and facilitated classes using these resources. Many of the men I work with in my Dad’s Group were raised in households where men barely participated in household work and child-rearing. I enjoy sharing with them the joys (and difficulties) of being an equal partner in the parenting process. Encouraging them to learn skills equips them to be better fathers and husbands. Dad showing son something

I was born in Bhutan and was forced to leave the country in the year 1992. I lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for 18 years before moving to the United States. I feel lucky that my parents were more flexible in their parenting and division of their household work than some of the more traditional families I knew (where parents had more control and unrealistic expectations on their children). Men were barely involved in parenting and other household tasks because of the harmful social and cultural norms and expectations associated with what it means to be a man. When I had my own kids, I learned to be calmer, more patient, and comfortable to participate in household work.

Many of the dads in my parenting class have strong opinions about keeping traditions. It can be a tough sell to tell dads to take on more work and to give their children more leniency in obedience methods. These kinds of gender disparities are difficult to dispel, but our welcoming classroom helps dads discuss these ideas and consider changing their perceptions.

Even as I teach Nurturing Parenting classes and Dad’s Group I learn alongside my students. As a parent, we are always tackling new challenges. When we share our experiences, we learn from one another. I’m grateful to be part of this nurturing environment.

Want to learn more about one dad’s experience? Check out Bhim’s story.

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