Growing Your Dad Group
- Be confident, patient, and persistent.
Groups take time to build and dads are not always easy to organize. The first month can be frustrating – only 2 or 3 dads at the first few events. Don’t get discouraged! More dads will find you and start showing up regularly.
- Empower your members and listen to them for ideas.
The organizer is the “heart” of a group, but he gets his best ideas for future meetings and events from the other dads in the group. Everyone’s opinion counts! Dads are more likely to attend group events when they were responsible for planning it. Encourage dads to step up!
- Plan interesting, fun, and meaningful outings
It is easy to hit the local playground or use someone’s home/playroom so the kids can play & interact while the dads socialize. These locations are easy to organize and should be a frequent group outing. Use your community: Contact the local parent & me companies, YMCA/Community Center, or play- spaces. It is amazing how the power of a unique group can get you a free trial class at a local children’s venue or inexpensive & affordable opportunities.
- Dads Night Out
About once a month, it is important to schedule a fun night out without kids – sports bar, poker night, steak night, BBQ, etc. This forum truly enables you to get to know the guys better.
- Enrichment for adults
Aside from the usual social outings, it’s important to take some time to think about the bigger picture of fatherhood via author discussions and relevant parenting workshops (i.e. Limit Setting, Positive Discipline, Potty Training, Thinking about Preschool, Getting in to Preschool, etc). Authors with new releases are especially interested in meeting with local parents groups, especially if you provide the venue and audience. Or, plan a trip together to HomedadCon!
Look for a local family related non-profit that needs volunteers. Contact your local soup kitchen, Salvation Army collection center, or shelter. The NYC Dads Group works with an organization called Baby Buggy that provides gear, toys, and clothes to families in need.
Maintaining Your Dad Group
- Communicate with your group often
Keeping in touch with your group as it grows is challenging. Send out a weekly email sharing upcoming events and other relevant news. Always give credit to dads that stepped up and planned a group event, assisted in their home, or helped in some other way. Make sure to send an email to the dad you haven’t seen in a while to see what he is up to.
- Offer opportunities for your group to communicate with each other
Set up an email list so people can stay in contact with one another. Create a message board so dads can share best practices, frustrations, or ask questions. Encourage the dads to make plans outside of the “scheduled” group outings so they build lasting friendships. Use social media networking like Twitter & Facebook to keep dads connected.
- Don’t do it alone.
An “organizer” is just a title. Ask for help from your group. Ask for meaningful feedback or constructive criticism after group meetings on ways the group can improve or be enhanced. Talk to other group organizers (including moms groups) for ideas or solutions to challenges in maintaining a vibrant group.
- Establish a Leadership Team (i.e. assistant organizer, community outreach liaison) within the group that meets frequently to discuss the future of the group. The goal is to empower more members, relieve the workload for the organizers, and develop best practices to create a more social, supportive, and enriching community of dads.
This information is adapted from sessions at HomedadCon from Matt Schneider and Lance Somerfeld of NYC Dads Group, and Phil Andrew and Mike Njus of the Lincoln/Omaha At-Home Dads Group as well as Tony Peters & Bill Beagle of the Dayton Dads that was originally posted on Rebeldad.com.