It's Boot Camp For New Dads, a national program offered in Lorain and Avon Lake by Community Health Partners' Family Outreach Center. The free, single-session classes meet the second Saturday of every month to unite veteran fathers with rookie dads who are preparing to join the ranks.
Dr. Tom Smith, a pediatrician and Boot Camp volunteer, explains that the nonprofit organization is the brainchild of a trauma-care consultant bothered by too many cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome. "They weren't bad parents," he says. "They just didn't know what to do."
So the emphasis is on preparing new dads for the pressures that lay ahead alongside the joys.
Emulating Cosby"When your baby's crying, break the problem down like you'd diagnose a car," advises Bryan Goldthorpe, a golf-course superintendent and veteran dad who's brought along 6-month-old Alexis. "If things don't work out, make sure your baby's in a safe place, then walk away until you cool down."
The men here today live in Lorain County or western Cuyahoga County and range in age from their early 20s to 40. Their ranks includes a pharmacist, a lab technician, a salesman, a cop, a lawyer and a part-time farmer. When asked why they signed up, however, many share a common response: Their own fathers were too busy and, even when around, too distant.
Boot Campers want to be Bill Cosby dads. To Don Brill, that will mean giving up the farming he loves but which hasn't yet become more than a time-consuming hobby. And pharmacist Steve Miller knows he's going to have to find a work schedule more conducive to involved parenting than his current third shift.
But while today's dads want to devote more time to child-raising, circumstances can dictate otherwise. New father Sam Carrington shows off his nifty combination briefcase and diaper bag while explaining how young Chase has necessitated finding ways to supplement Carrington's primary career in photography.
Patience is a buzzwordTerry Charlton and his wife must learn to juggle two law careers. "Maybe she can take off a day or two a week and I can do some work from home," he says, shrugging off the details that haven't been ironed out. "It's worth it, so we'll make it work."
Charlton is 40 and admits to crunching the numbers: "I think about how old I'll be when my child graduates..." His voice trails off before he adds, "But patience increases with age."
|Boot Camp For New Dads is offered in the Cleveland area at Community Health Partners in Lorain. Call Tom Stuebner at the Family Outreach Center, (440) 233-1047. The free program is also offered at Akron General Medical Center and Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights. More information is available at www.newdads.com.|
The room goes silent.
While much of the program has a feel-good, bonding quality, practical tips include how one dad taped the sound of the vacuum cleaner because it lulled his child to sleep. Another placed his baby, in babyseat, on top of the dryer to replicate the comforting vibes of a car in motion.
Even superdads can come off like Adam Sandler. At one point, Stuebner sniffs the air before nodding toward the toddling son of assistant coach Jim Glowacki. "I think Ryan did something."
Glowacki mulls this over. "Oh, you mean he..."
"Yeah," says Stuebner.
Only momentarily does the mask of paternal composure slip before Glowacki turns to a fellow dad. "Bryan, can I borrow some wipes? That's the one thing I forgot to pack." Cosby could relate.