A six-week course in Kewtown has been teaching fathers how to spend more quality time with their children, says Shuaib Salie, the coordinator of the fatherhood and parenting programme of The Parent Centre, the non-profit organisation that ran the training.
“A high percentage of fathers in South Africa don’t live with their children. There has been a big shift worldwide, where men got more involved with their children, but some don’t know how to spend quality time with their children, for example. It is a myth that there is something wrong with men who attend these workshops. We would like more fathers from the greater Athlone area to join this programme,” Mr Salie said.
Jody Jacobs, 26, will be a father soon and joined the workshop because he feels excited and anxious about being a dad.
“I have gained valuable insights on becoming a father. I received advice from others, and I often think about what kind of father I would be. It’s not just about me learning but also counselling myself. Parenting was different when I was a child. Now it is time for a change of things. Making peace with myself and shaping a new reality. I couldn’t be more grateful,” Mr Jacobs said.
Another father, who cannot be named to protect his child, said he was instructed by the court to attend the course.
“Initially, I felt a bit apprehensive, because it is not nice being ordered by the court. However, I love my child and will do anything for her. I want to be a better father, and it was such a good idea to come here. It’s been invaluable – even for fathers who think they know what they are doing. When you speak to others, you realise where you can do better. It is so nice being part of a group of men who want to be the best fathers for our children,” he said.
Quinton Isaacs, the Kewtown resident who asked The Parent Centre to offer the course for fathers in the area, said: “There is a perception that there is something wrong with men who attend workshops like this. Some fathers may also feel that they are not educated enough to attend, or they might have low self-esteem. This is not the case. It’s not just about getting through the programme, but this group has also become a support system. We all make mistakes, but through it all, we need to just be present in our children’s lives. It is all about maintaining a relationship with our children.”
Meanwhile, The Women’s Circle, with the help of The Parent Centre, ran a seven-week parenting workshop for 25 people. The final session was held at the Nantes Park on Wednesday March 23.
For more information about the training call The Parent Centre at 021 762 0116.