Year of the Dad: Building Relationships in Fife

Dad doing craft activity with his son
Category: Bookbug

2016 is Scotland's Year of the Dad, and a great opportunity for us to share some of the activities that dads and father figures across the country are engaging in with children. Robin Munro, Co-Chair of Dunfermline Dads, shares his experiences of establishing a parent/toddler group in Fife.

Upon entering a parent/toddler group as a dad, where the majority if not all the other parents in attendance are mums, it is common to be given the unwitting look of “why is he here? Why isn’t he at work? Where is mum?” Granted, it is still mostly women who take the bulk of leave when their children are young, however men are increasingly happy to take a proactive role in parenting.

Dads spending time learning, laughing and having fun with their children is vital in order to build strong bonds and ensure the best start in life.

Dads spending time learning, laughing and having fun with their children is vital in order to build strong bonds and ensure the best start in life. These are the observations that led to the creation of Dunfermline Dads, the only playgroup in Fife specifically aimed at dads and their children aged 0-8 years.

Stickman mascots
The trickiest part of starting a community group is finding people who share an idea and are then willing enough to give up some time and get involved. In our case, the majority of our founding members met when they attended other groups that folded after a few months. This left us with the choice to either do nothing or set up a new one, and together we unanimously decided to try the latter option. We felt this was an opportunity to improve the group by changing the structure of sessions to include more child-led activities, and place a greater emphasis on literacy and storytelling.

So, in June 2014 a meeting was called at a dimly lit local tavern where we nominated a committee, agreed our constitution and began to figure out how to finance the group. Over the coming weeks we spoke to the community about our plans, met with Fife Council for advice, applied for grants, and secured a venue. Dunfermline Dads is open to all dads from all backgrounds and circumstances, and because of this, our group is free to attend to avoid cost ever being a barrier to participation. We also wanted the space to be nurturing and encourage dads to talk openly, ask for advice, or just be able to have some banter about football/film/ music/general nonsense over a coffee and a biscuit.

On the 5th July 2014, Dunfermline Dads had its first session and we continue to welcome dads and their children every Saturday from 10-11.30 am at Touch Community Centre. Toys, books, musical instruments and play equipment are provided along with a healthy snack. To try and provide as many experiences to children as we can throughout the year we go on adventures to beaches and parks and visit museums and castles.

Children in forest

The children have been tim'rous beasties to celebrate Rabbie Burns, made their own intriguing versions of Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man (above) and decorated gingerbread men to act out the tale of The Gingerbread Man. Some of our dads are Bookbug trained, although many dads are happy to take turns leading story, song and rhyme time. A key aim of our group is to promote literacy and the enjoyment of reading to children.

Dunfermline Dads is proud to have been a finalist in the What’s On 4 Junior Awards 2015 and to have received support from Fife Council and Comic Relief. We believe our group highlights the importance of the father/child relationship while providing dads with opportunities to share their experiences of fatherhood with peers and have fun with their children.


For further information please contact DunfermlineDads@gmail.com or find us at Facebook.com/DunfermlineDads.

 

Year of the Dad is organised by Fathers Network Scotland with support from the Scottish Government and many other organisations. Sign up for more info at: www.yearofthedad.org

 

Robin Munro

Robin Munro is Co-Chair of Dunfermline Dads, a parent/toddler group based in Fife.