This Father’s Day (Sunday 7 September), Plunket is celebrating all New Zealand dads who help give their kids a good start in life, year-round.
“Nearly 60,000 babies were born in New Zealand in 2013, and we can confirm that not one parent reported their newborn arrived with an instruction manual!” said Liam O’Sullivan, Plunket Community Services Leader in Southland. “Many dads are finding their own way to bond with their kids and be great dads. So this Father’s day we’re celebrating all the dads who are doing a great job raising their kids, year-round,” he said.
Dads sometimes underestimate their role, but research shows fathers who play an active and positive role in their children’s lives help give them the best start in life: “Parenting is a team effort – spending time with your children is one of the most important things a dad can do,” said Mr O’Sullivan. “Fatherhood is life changing, and having a network of support helps you be the best dad you can be.”
Plunket provides support for dads including free parenting courses, and also provides ways for dads to connect with each other, such as facilitating all-dads groups, and volunteering at Plunket centres to offer parenting support.
Gavin Bartlett, father of three children aged five and under, volunteers at Plunket in Queenstown and talks to dads-to-be about his own experiences of being a parent. “It can be easy for dads to get sidelined if they don’t take an active role. I say a little bit about my own experience, and then ask if the dads have any questions. Bonding with their child comes up, new dads are often concerned about how to do that. I talk about the things you can do, like bath-time, changing nappies. I always say – every father’s different, every child’s different, so you’ve got to find what works for you.”
He says it’s good for dads to take an active role: “I think it’s important for the child. When Plunket wanted someone to volunteer to talk to dads, I thought, I can do that. It’s not much time and it’s something I could do.”
Plunket’s Liam O’Sullivan encouraged dads to use its services, and encourages more dads to volunteer: “Being a dad changes your life, and I believe dads need support just as much as mums. I think a lot of the time as men we feel we should be able to cope on our own. But in fact talking to another dad who may have gone through something similar helps take the pressure off, and means you are more likely to be a better dad. We’re keen for more dads to get involved and volunteer at Plunket.”
Plunket is here to help dads be great fathers. You can find lots of ways you can have fun with your kids and help give them the best start in life at plunket.org.nz, where you can also find parenting advice and information about Plunket’s free parenting courses. Or you can find advice from dads at greatfathers.org.nz
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Plunket and Dads
Growing great kiwi kids starts with being a great parent. Plunket supports dads by offering free parenting courses for the different stages of children’s early development. The courses are free, available nationwide, and include:
• Your New Baby – Parenting in the first six weeks
• Your Growing Baby - Parenting from six weeks until baby is rolling or crawling
• Your Moving Baby - Parenting when baby is moving but not yet walking
• Your Active Toddler – Parenting from around 14 months to around two-and-a-half years
• Your Curious Young Child – Parenting from two-and-a-half years until your child is at school
For new dads, adjusting to your new role can feel overwhelming and tiring as there's lots to learn in such a short time.
Things that may help:
• Talking with other dads and sharing experiences.
• Keeping in touch with family, friends, and colleagues.
• Going to a local dads’ support groups.
• Going to parenting education groups/antenatal group follow up courses.
• Talking to the family doctor.
• Talking to your Plunket nurse.
• Check your local library for books about fathering and relationships.
Calling Plunket’s free telephone advice service PlunketLine – 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.