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"Game on" - A parenting course by Dads for Dads"

We often hear about the negative impacts of absent, violent or disengaged fathers on tamariki and whānau. But what if we shift our focus to the positive influence that strong, involved fathers can have on their Tamariki?

Enter "Game on!", a unique and transformative initiative created by the Catholic Social Services in Dunedin aimed to empower father figures with the tools to actively participate in the lives of their tamariki. John, one of Awarua Whānau Services Kaimahi saw a lack of support for fathers in Southland and saw the opportunity to deliver the programme here in Murihiku.

The programme, which is open to anyone in a father like role, provides a supportive community for men to come together and discuss the triumphs and challenges of fatherhood. Tāne will engage in various topics, including effective communication, goal setting, and discipline while also recognising and understanding emotions and behaviour.

One of the groups at Graduation

One of the key components of the program is understanding that vulnerability is not a weakness. John and Michael, who facilitate "Game on!", do this by creating a space where tāne feel comfortable to be open about their own challenges.

“This course, the facilitators and the guys in the course really have made a difference for the better. I spoke about some very personal things that I usually couldn’t do. THANK YOU” - Pāpā from "Game on!"

The results have been amazing. Participants report that they are more patient with their tamariki, experience reduced stress levels and know how to communicate better with their whānau. Tamariki have also benefited from their fathers' involvement in the programme by being more settled and having more trust.

“Amazing course, amazing down to earth facilitators. I’ve learned some real practical skills that have made immediate changes in my kids and my life” - Pāpā from Game on

So what is the secret to the success? At its core, it is about having the ability to connect to their own life experiences. By providing a supportive environment, relevant resources and having hands on facilitators the programme empowers fathers to step up and be role models for their tamariki.

"Game on!" is 6 x 2 hour sessions and is facilitated 4 times a year at Awarua Whānau Services. Keep an eye out on our social media and website for the next intake and course dates. A huge mihi to John and Michael for facilitating such a successful programme and supporting our tāne through the ups and downs of parenthood.

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