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Dad’s 101 preps men for fatherhood

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As soon-to-be parents approach their baby’s due date, their minds may be overwhelmed with changing questions and concerns.

While many forums offer education and insight to expectant mothers, fewer are available specifically for fathers.

The Family Advocacy office at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, hopes to bridge this gap in supportive resources for fathers by offering Dad’s 101 classes.

“Every other parenting class I’ve been a part of was driven by ladies,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Kendrick, 20th Maintenance Group maintenance operations section chief and Dad’s 101 instructor. “This one is directly fathers teaching fathers and giving their personal experience and their advice. It’s just a male environment where they don’t have a female (say), ‘You’re doing it wrong.’”
The two-part class offers attendees the opportunity to learn from experienced fathers about topics such as managing stress, infant care and bonding with baby while gaining hands-on practice.

Each class welcomes soon-to-be fathers who are seeking answers or older fathers who are looking to learn new tricks and contribute what they have learned.

This sharing of information helps students get their questions answered.

“The guy is going to have a ton of questions, but he’s supposed to be tough,” said Master Sgt. James White, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge. “(He might think), ‘I don’t need to ask questions. I’m good. I’m the man,’ but, a lot of people have a lot of questions about stuff. ... I know I had a lot of questions becoming a first-time father. If I would’ve had a Dad’s 101 class, that would have gotten a lot of my questions answered.”

While receiving the answers they seek, the Team Shaw members prepare themselves for new, or renewed, fatherhood.

“I think there’s nothing harder than being a dad,” said Kendrick. “I thought the military would be hard, but when you hold the two together, the military doesn’t hold a candle to it. … Being a dad, you don’t get an Air Force Instruction, you don’t get any type of guidance. You kind of learn on the fly and hope there’s people that care enough to share. It’s one of the hardest jobs out there and that’s why we need education to go with it.”