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Class at JBSA-Randolph provides fathers with ‘the basics’ of parenting

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 17, 2019


Fathers will learn how to become more attuned to the needs of their infants, improve their parenting skills and solidify their relationships with their spouses during a class this month at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph

“Dads: The Basics” will be presented from 3-6 p.m. May 30 at the Health Promotions facility on the south end of the Rambler Fitness Center, building 999.

One of the unique aspects of the class is that it is facilitated by fathers for fathers, said Audrey Thompson, 359th Medical Operations Squadron New Parent Support Program nurse.

“That’s the great thing about the class,” she said. “Men can more openly discuss their concerns and fears, and they’re able to bond with each other.”

Thompson’s husband, retired Air Force Master Sgt. Virgel Thompson, will facilitate the class, which is based on a curriculum developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

“The center has determined through studies that dads may not have much experience handling infants and are often working against social expectations that challenge their ability to be nurturing fathers,” he said. “This program provides a training environment for them.”

The class, which is open to all fathers who are Department of Defense cardholders, will cover gender stereotypes, attachment, pregnancy, shaken baby syndrome, communication, parenting styles and resources available.

Men who are soon to become fathers face challenges, Virgel Thompson said.

“Pregnancy for a father is more abstract because they feel they don’t have to get involved until after the child is born,” he said. “Fathers sometimes feel out of place because they aren’t feeling the physical side of pregnancy.”

Challenges continue after the child is born, Virgel Thompson said.

“Fathers can feel overwhelmed because of lack of time due to the financial pressures of caring for a child,” he said. “In addition to feeling overwhelmed, they may experience loss of time and friends, and suffer from stress.”

It’s important for new fathers to be wholly invested in their child’s upbringing by reading to them, holding them, changing their diapers, taking them for a walk in a stroller and performing other parental duties, Virgel Thompson said.

They should also communicate with their wives and be attuned to their feelings.

“Be aware of any mood changes or your spouse to look for signs of postpartum mood disorders,” he said.

Research shows that a positive relationship between babies and their fathers increases a child’s future social competence, school performance and use of empathy, Audrey Thompson said. That relationship also benefits fathers.

“When dads are involved, they are more sensitive with their infants, report more secure attachment relationships with their children, contribute to improvements in the mother-child relationship, feel more self-confident and effective as parents, find parenthood more satisfying and feel more intrinsically important to their children,” she said. “When their dads are involved, children have higher cognitive function at 6 months, are better problem solvers as toddlers, have a higher IQ by age 3, show more concern for others and are more empathetic.”

She also said children whose fathers are more involved in their upbringing have higher levels of self-reported happiness; are better able to handle strange situations and are more resilient; demonstrate a greater tolerance for stress and frustration; are more likely to do well academically, participate in extracurricular activities and enjoy school; and are better able to manage their emotions and impulses in an adaptive manner.

To register for the class, call 210-652-2448.