Dad’s workshop prepares Tyndall members for fatherhood

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Nordheim
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen must maintain and undergo vigorous training to remain capable of projecting combat airpower around the globe. But what training do these combat ready airmen receive when becoming a brand-new parent?

With this experience in mind, Tyndall’s Family Advocacy Program formed “Dads: The Basics”, a one-day workshop taught by dads for newly expecting dads.

“Becoming a parent is a significant life event, and it can be especially challenging for military fathers who face deployments, long hours, or changes in work schedules,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Dillard, 325th Fighter Wing noncommissioned officer in charge of occupational safety and course instructor. “Providing resources like "Dad's: The Basics" helps military fathers better navigate their new roles and responsibilities and contribute to their overall well-being.”

The workshop’s curriculum covers various topics such as attachment, pregnancy, diapering, fatherhood, communication as well as labor and delivery. The workshop also provides guidance and tools that can be utilized to cope with things like excessive crying, and a diaper bag filled with donations and resources at Tyndall and in the local community.

“I was really impressed with my instructor’s confidence and humor surrounding fatherhood,” said Dillard. “He put my mind at ease by answering all my questions with practical advice. Because of the way I felt after taking the course, I wanted to help other dads to have that same reassurance.”

According to Andrea Bright, 325th Medical Group Family Advocacy intervention specialist, deployments, frequent relocations and long periods of family separation can strain the parent-child relationship. The frequent uncertainty of the military lifestyle can create emotional stress for both them and their child. This created a need for the class which is held once a quarter, and is taught by previous course attendees or those who simply want to pay it forward.

“I was introduced to the course prior to the birth of my first child. I went to a few parenting classes with my wife, but this one was different,” said Dillard. “It’s a no-judgment zone where we open up about our concerns surrounding fatherhood. We cover topics that might not be as easily discussed with another parent in the room. When you leave the class, you are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to be successful father.”

The workshop aims to reinforce a parental figure who provides stable emotional support within a family, as well as invite a sense of community amongst all dads, no matter their installation or career field. The Family Advocacy office also offers additional new parent support systems such as home visits with registered nurses, parenting and stress management courses, growth and development information.

“People love to give new parents advice on how to be successful,” said Dillard. “There are some truths that apply to all children, and we make sure to cover down on the big-ticket items in the course. The instructors do share tips and tricks that worked for us, but we stress the importance of staying flexible and offering parents grace. At the end of the day, we want a healthy baby and present, loving fathers.”