How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

To achieve our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, Illuminate Colorado is focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado.

This national, evidence-informed model provides a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers. Circle groups give anyone in a parenting role a place to openly discuss the successes and challenges of raising children, free from judgment. Growing Circles of Fathers around the state is particularly important to our work. We asked one father to share why his group is important to him and his family.

Read Dave’s Circle of Parents Story . . . 

One of the most beautiful gifts on this planet is to be a parent. Parenting comes with beautiful moments and also challenges. It’s the latter that we learn the most about ourselves and our kids.

As a father, it took me some time to, first, admit that I needed help and then more courage to reach out and say “I need help”. I want to share with other parents that even though this gesture sounds simple, it’s important to know I had to overcome how I was raised and my perception of what being a father meant to me to make that connection. It seems so silly now because once I asked the help came flooding, and I mean FLOODING in!

There have been several organizations and groups that have helped me over the years, but my Circle of Fathers group has been the most important to me and continues to be. I could write for some time about everything the group contributes to my life, but I want to highlight the impact it has had on my ability to support my son’s education. You see, I, like many parents, have needed to play a big part in homeschooling my son. 

As I continue to raise my son, I watch as his ability to learn grows every day. Honestly, I have no idea what his capacity is yet because it seems to be boundless. I see so many educational opportunities I can incorporate into my son’s life. One of the fathers shared online classes with me and my son loves to do them every week! It’s funny that a small mention of an activity that works at home for one parent can have such a big impact on another child’s life.

My local Circle of Fathers group is strengthening my family every time I connect, which is often. In addition to attending meetings online and in person,  checking on our Circle of Fathers Facebook Group posts are now a daily part of my life. The ideas I get from our diverse group of parents have helped me expand my fathering skills and I love it! Every post I read relating to topics my son and I are facing is so inventive, and the tips and tricks that I get from other parents are really ingenious.

I want to thank every parent who takes the time to understand what Circle of Parents means to all the parents getting support in this way. It’s inspirational and a beautiful gift that parenting is connected to countless others who love raising little ones!

I encourage other parents and caregivers to connect and find their Circle.

About the Author

About the Author

Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late.

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Being patient with children is often hard but is absolutely essential. Gentle parenting is not always as easy as it seems and can often be tested when we least expect it. It may seem easier to yell at our kids or get angry with them, but over time those moments will catch up to us in terms of how we feel about ourselves, as parents, and how our children perceive us. When raising children, it’s important to teach them patience in addition to the many other lessons you’ll want to pass on to them.  An idea that is much easier said than done—at least for my household.

Being the posterchild for patience is not a quality I exemplify very well in my household, at times.  Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out.  I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late. I also underestimate the time it will actually take for my daughter to accomplish a task, like simply finishing her breakfast and putting on her shoes. Being familiar with my own short comings in this arena, there is no doubt in my mind that she gets this from me. 

 

Patience is a Virtue The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

To sum it up—through my actions, I have taught her zero time management skills, which then helps to fuel impatience in me, which I then model for her, which she then mirrors back to me…and the cycle continues.  Taking accountability for the role I play in my daughter’s actions, reactions and general behavior is always my first step when trying to address undesired behavior.  Children have their own temperaments, we cannot always account for everything they do, but there is a large portion of how they deal with the world that comes from us. Through the introspective process of challenging my own undesirable behavior and working on steps towards improvement, I try to keep a few key strategies at the forefront of my brain to help minimize the frequency of my impatient outbursts as we move through uncharted waters. 

Strategies for Gentle Parenting

Strategies for Gentle Parenting

Here are five main strategies for gentle parenting I’ve learned over the years through books, research, parenting classes and from talking with the outstanding dads I spend time with every week through my Circle of Fathers group:

Create Clear Boundaries

As parents, our first priority is to keep our children safe and secure. Setting clear boundaries and expectations allows us to accomplish that while also giving them some control over their own lives and actions. When we don’t set boundaries, it doesn’t teach our children how to control themselves or be responsible for their actions. We can help kids learn about boundaries by being patient with them (no matter how challenging they may be) when they make mistakes or exhibit bad behavior.

Establish Routine

Your baby needs structure and you need to be calm. Make sure your day-to-day routine stays consistent and that your child always knows what to expect from you. This will make it easier for him or her to follow along, know when it’s time for different activities, and feel confident in your ability to care for them on an everyday basis. We all know how quickly babies learn—so once they figure out what works best for them, they’ll stick with it!

Don’t Forget to Smile

A smile sends an unspoken message to your child, telling them you love them and that they’re safe. Maintain eye contact with your child when you speak to them. Keep as much skin-to-skin contact as possible; hug, kiss, pick up and hold your children frequently throughout each day.

Be Consistent

You’re going to have really good days and really bad days. One day, you’ll feel like you have parenting down and other days you may feel like nothing could be more challenging. But consistency is key in gentle parenting. If you tell your child one thing today, follow through with it tomorrow. This will help instill trust in your child that they can depend on what you say to them.

Have Patience, Give Yourself Grace

Patience can be hard to come by for any parent. However, being patient with your children will be some of your greatest challenges and successes in parenting. Though it might be difficult, you must try to remain calm at all times in order to properly teach your child how to handle certain situations. It might be tempting at times, but always remember that actions speak louder than words.

About the Author

About the Author

Adam N. S. Combs is a blog contributor helping to illuminate the protective factors in his family’s life by sharing his experiences as a father, military veteran and Circle of Parents facilitator through storytelling.

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Sending your kids over to play at a friend’s house to play is one of the best ways to make it through the summertime while school is out, child care is limited and the need to find activities to entertain our kids is endless. But, it can also be a scary decision for any parent to make to entrust the safety of your child with another adult. Do you know if it is a safe place to play at your playdate’s house?

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

I wanted to share some love and support for all of our fathers out there on this Father’s Day. As a stay at home father with two daughters who is married to my best friend, life is good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard and we’ve got to talk about it more.

About two and a half years ago, Adam Combs, who is now like a brother to me, and I started a couple of parenting groups for fathers in Colorado Springs, CO. In this space we provide support, connection to resources and encouragement for the fathers in our community. We encourage our fathers to try to create a community of trust, where fathers can come in, as they are, and share their accolades or their concerns and struggles in parenting. It’s a place a father can have their confidence built and at the same be vulnerable in our relationships, most importantly those with our own children.

For me, the biggest reason I decided to create this space is because I, myself, struggled with the transition of becoming a stay at home parent. It wasn’t something I thought I would ever be doing or could do. I didn’t have all the answers, no parent does. I questioned myself in many ways and my pride and ego kept telling me that I should be out there working “like a man should”. I guess the way I was raised, and in society, there was a stigma that mothers should stay home, while the father goes out and works hard to earn big money. Well, I figured out quickly that this is hard work and, in fact, the most important – and I love it!

I must say I struggled at first, especially as a combat vet struggling with my own issues. I didn’t struggle with the physical aspect of it, but I struggled with my emotions, identity and insecurities. For some reason, in the beginning, I also had some resentment. See, physically I could always run circles around most people, but to be with my children every single moment of their life and be their life mentor and coach, while holding the fort and myself down, well that takes a special person. It has tested my will and patience, but I have become a whole new person.

Our fathers group has helped me to realize it takes every day intention to be a stay at home parent. It takes so much unconditional love and forgiveness, yet I have also learned that a majority of that forgiveness is for myself! Nothing will ever be perfect in the life of a stay at home parent. Eventually, I had to let that go and realize that there is no way I can do this alone. I need the support of other stay at home fathers, parents and a community to help me get through the harder times. That was especially true during the lock downs from COVID. When they say, “it takes a village”, essentially it doesn’t just apply to our mothers, but it applies to fathers too!

We need each other and building strong, trusting relationships is crucial to any parent, child and community. So fathers, I say to you, it is ok to not have everything figured out all the time and it’s ok to have feelings and let it be known.  The answers will come if you open up your circle, invite more people to join you on your journey through parenthood and share what you are going through. This is the greatest father’s day gift you can give to yourself – and your children. 

About the Author

About the Author

Adrian Nunez is a blog contributor helping to illuminate the protective factors in his family’s life by sharing his experiences as a father of two children, military veteran and one of the founding members of the Circle of Parents groups Fathers of Freedom and Circle of Fathers.

It Can’t Just Be Me

It Can’t Just Be Me

Me:  “Will you please go downstairs and turn off the lights you left on in the bathroom, your room, and the den?!”  My Son:  “Why?  Maybe later.” Me:  “Well then let me rephrase it. If you don’t turn off the lights now, you’ll lose your device for the day! It’s not...

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How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

To achieve our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, Illuminate Colorado is focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado. This national, evidence-informed model provides a friendly, supportive environment led...

read more
Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late.

read more

You Don’t Have to Carry the Emotional Load of Parenthood Alone

You Don’t Have to Carry the Emotional Load of Parenthood Alone

A big reason I’ve become so involved in my community and eager to support parents is because of my own personal story and experience receiving support. In October 2018 I experienced every parents worst nightmare: my three and a half year-old son passed away. After that tragedy, I was offered a whirlwind of supportive services, counseling, classes, family and friends coming to offer support. Every single one played a part in my healing process. What I found most life-altering was my home visiting program. 

Home visitors provided a listening ear, in-home coaching and support. They showed up and sat with me in my grief, my worry, my frustration. They listened to my struggles without judgement and genuinely created an atmosphere of friendship. My home visitors helped me to carry the emotional load of parenthood, as well as make sure my children were on track developmentally. Having that extra set of eyes helps you feel better about what you are doing as a parent. 

Not only do home visitors offer parenting advice and comradery, they can also refer you to social services if you lose your job or need a doctor or therapist. They can help you apply for social services like LEAP or TANF. They bring gifts. They bring new ideas and they’ll help you find a child care center. They are always there with the knowledge and the know-how to meet you where you are and give you the hand up to get to where you want to be. 

Home visiting support helped me through the most unimaginable grief a person can experience. And I will never be able to say thank you enough to those who have helped me become who I am now through all of that pain. 

After leaving my job in 2020 due to the pandemic, my home visitor suggested I join the Early Childhood Leadership Commission’s Home Visiting Investment Task Force as a parent voice as a way to stimulate my brain and give back to the community that gave so much to me. The task force works to guide the implementation of the home visiting strategic plan leading to the creation of a continuum of home visiting services in Colorado, something I am so looking forward to seeing. 

it was also suggested to me to enroll my children in the Colorado Head Start program, a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children from birth to age five. After enrolling, I took on an additional role for my region’s Head Start Association. As a parent in Head Start, I’m given the peace of mind that my children are given great preparation in school readiness. They also ensure that my children are receiving social and emotional developmental support. I’m encouraged to be a teacher for my children and given the materials to support what my girls are learning. As a parent president and board member, I get to have a say in the future education of my children and other children who will go through the program. Centro de la Familia’s Head Start program is an invaluable resource that has helped me connect to my children on a deeper level.

Having the personal connections and support offered to me through home visiting helped me get out of the deep dark hole I was in years ago. A few short years ago I had no idea how to go on, how to move forward and show up everyday for the people in my life, including myself. And now, I get the opportunity to be present in my children’s lives on a new level. We love to play dress-up, cook together, read, swim, sing and dance. We get to be silly and happy. I have the confidence that I don’t know everything and I won’t get everything right, but I do have a team of people I trust to pick me up when I stumble. 

Concrete supports are among the five critical protective factors known to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. It is my hope that other parents and caregivers who find themselves in a hole, who want to better themselves as parents, or who would like a friend to come sit with them for awhile, remember that there is concrete support here for them. I am forever grateful that it was here for me. 

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa Chenoweth

Alexa is from Rifle, Colorado. As a mom to two daughters- an almost one-year-old and four-year-old she is a parent representative on the Home Visiting Investment Task Force and a board member for the Region 8 Head Start Association. She is sharing her lived experiences so that children and families can grow and thrive together.  She has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced grief and high stress while parenting her young children.   

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How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

To achieve our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, Illuminate Colorado is focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado. This national, evidence-informed model provides a friendly, supportive environment led...

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late.

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

One father’s words of wisdom this Father’s Day. “Eventually, I had to let that go and realize that there is no way I can do this alone. I need the support of other stay at home fathers, parents and a community to help me get through the harder times.”

How to Help Your Picky Eater

How to Help Your Picky Eater

Most parents struggle with feeding their kids at some point in their lives. Eating is one of the most basic functions, so why is it so hard? There are many reasons a child might not like a specific food — the texture, what it looks like, the smell, or the child could be anxious about the sensory experience, so they refuse even to try it. Whatever the reason, there are ways to make this experience less stressful for everyone. 

I am a pediatric therapist and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through a convenient telehealth experience. I often help families who struggle with picky eaters. Most picky eater caregivers dread mealtime because they know there will be struggles around food. Mealtimes should be an opportunity to connect with your family, not a time of stress. I’m excited to share a few of my favorite tips on how to support your child during mealtimes so the entire family can get back to a stress-free meal. 

Tips to Ease Mealtime Stress With Your Picky Eater

Introduce new foods alongside favorite foods.

Do not force your child to try a new food. Continue to present it in small portions alongside favorite foods to increase the likelihood of your child interacting with it. 

Select three goal foods.

Make a list of your child’s preferred foods. These foods will help you determine new foods to introduce – you want to select new foods that are similar to your child’s preferred foods, but different in some ways. Introduce the goal foods one at a time. 

Use “I wonder” statements to encourage your child to try new foods.

“I wonder if that’s crunchy like your pretzels,” or “I wonder if it tastes sweet or salty.”

Take the pressure off your child.

If your child doesn’t want to interact with a food, say, “OK, I guess you’re not ready to eat that yet.” Adding yet to this statement leaves the possibility open for the future while making them more comfortable during mealtime.

Get them involved in food prep.

Helping in the kitchen makes your child an active participant and gives them a sense of control from the start.

Encourage them to explore food through smell, touch or trying it in small bites.

If your child smells a new food, that is a win! Encourage them to touch and smell the food if they aren’t ready to taste it yet. 

Give them some control over their food choices.

A food menu works great for this — give your child food options and let them fill out the weekly menu. When the child feels like they have some control over their food, they know what to expect and are more willing to try it. 

Manage your expectations.

It’s hard to put so much time and effort into feeding your child. Don’t expect any one tip to be the answer; this process can take time, but your patience will pay off. 

2022 Pinwheels for Prevention® Sponsor

Special Thanks to Kinspire for growing a better tomorrow for all children, together.

Speaking from personal experience with my youngest girl, being a parent to a picky eater can be overwhelming at times. If you’re looking for support for your picky eater, Kinspire can help you. 

Kinspire offers children and their families occupational therapy in the most flexible and convenient way that fits into anyone’s schedule. Kinspire’s platform empowers parents to support their children on a daily basis via a dedicated occupational therapist, on-demand telehealth services, and a self-service technology experience. Kinspire therapists work with families to develop a collaborative Family Action Plan tailored to their child’s needs and parents can reach out to their dedicated therapist whenever they need help or have questions.

No more wait lists or scheduling challenges— you can get help now at your convenience with Kinspire. Schedule a free consultation at www.kinspirehealth.com to get matched with a licensed therapist who will guide and teach you how to support your family so you can get back to stress-free meals.

About the Author

About the Author

Lily Baiser is a parent and highly experienced pediatric occupational therapist (OT). She holds a certification in sensory integration theory and practice, and has advanced training in multiple interventions. She also serves as the chief clinical officer and co-founder of Kinspire, a pediatric support platform that provides occupational therapy through telehealth to best support the developmental needs of children and their families.

Related Posts

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Do you know if your playdate’s house is a safe place to play?

Sending your kids over to play at a friend’s house to play is one of the best ways to make it through the summertime while school is out, child care is limited and the need to find activities to entertain our kids is endless. But, it can also be a scary decision for any parent to make to entrust the safety of your child with another adult. Do you know if it is a safe place to play at your playdate’s house?

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

One Father’s Journey Through Parenthood with Community Resources

I never thought I would ever become homeless until it happened. A number of events led me to a point in my life where I needed to find a temporary home so that I could start working to rebuild my life from the ground up and continue to support my basic needs and be there for my son. I want to share and highlight a few community support programs that have had a big impact on my life and that of my son’s because I know that it is so important to breakdown the stigma of getting support as a parent. But first, I want to tell you about my son.

I am a father to a 9 year-old boy who has has the funniest sense of humor. He has this awesome joy inside of him that marvels over the simplest things, like a dollar store toy, a plastic device that makes snowballs or even a pack of gum. And, through his wonderment of these things he teaches me that life doesn’t have to be so complex and I too can enjoy the simple moments. My son and I have an amazingly strong relationship built on trust, love and the ability to learn and grow…together. I am honored and privileged to be a father.

But, parenting isn’t always easy. There’s no book to follow on how to be a perfect parent and it can be difficult at times. The good news is there’s so many resources in all of our communities that are reaching out to us to provide services, programs and support as we navigate our parental journey. These are just a few of the community organizations that have made an impact on my family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Springs Rescue Mission

It was late in the year and it started to get cold outside. I had exhausted all other resources and had to find housing very quickly. As I entered the shelter at Springs Rescue Mission for the very first time, I was greeted with open arms and care. Immediately, I had a bed and began to learn what resources were available to me.

The caregivers at Springs Rescue Mission were amazing at connecting me to everything I needed. I had some medical issues and was put into contact with a doctor within days. I was shown where to get food at a number of locations. As you might imagine, my stress and anxiety levels were high and I was quickly connected to a provider to manage my mental health. When it came to generating income, Springs Rescue Mission was able to provide me with electricity and internet access so that I could continue to support the remote clients that I had. They also had jobs posted every week and clinics available for resume building and interviewing skills.

When times were difficult, I could reach out and talk to any of the shelter employees and they listened to me as we talked through issues that affected me as a parent. I can’t thank Springs Rescue Mission enough for supporting my basic needs, connecting me to all the resources I needed, and for helping me get back on my feet. This is just one shelter among many that provide a roof, food, and hands to help guide us back upwards.

Circle of Parents

The Circle of Parents® in Colorado is an online and in-person weekly meeting where parents come together, share thoughts, ideas and problems. In return, those in the group receive advice and resources to help make parenting a little easier. It’s a collection of parents needing help and through the bonds that are built… grow stronger, together. You learn very quickly in groups like these that you are never alone and help is just an email, text or phone call away.

For me, each week connects me to other fathers that are knowledgeable about local parent/child events and educational opportunities like parenting books, articles, or websites. It’s a safe place to share challenges and success stories and bond with other fathers.

Center on Fathering

Although there are many more organizations I could share, I do want to mention just one more; the Center on Fathering which has been a bedrock of support to strengthen our role as parents through parenting classes, support groups and access to educational materials.

I reached out to community organizations for help and it’s made me a better parent. If I can leave you with just one message today, it would be this…  it’s OK for parents to ask for support. We all need it. We all need to connect with one another—as parents—to share the information, resources, tips and tricks that we learn along the way.

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. ​This is what child abuse prevention looks like in my life. Together, we can become the best parents we can be. For fathers, it feels especially difficult for us to reach out to one another to connect as parents and get support. This is the pledge I make to myself, to continue to connect and I’m sharing my story to grow a better tomorrow for all children, together. 

About the Author

About the Author

Dave is a proud father to his nine year-old son living in Colorado Springs. He has a deep understanding of what needs to happen at a community level in order to transform systems so that families get the preventative support they need, having experienced homelessness and spends his time helping other fathers make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfillment.

Related Posts

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

How Circle of Fathers Helps Me

To achieve our mission to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment, Illuminate Colorado is focused on growing Circle of Parents® in Colorado. This national, evidence-informed model provides a friendly, supportive environment led...

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Patience is a Virtue: The Struggle of Gentle Parenting

Like all parents, I have a ton of stuff going on. I overcommit to things, I always think there is more time in the day, and when I feel the crunch of obligations begin to weigh down on me, the dictator starts to come out. I rarely give myself or my daughter any wiggle room for the inevitable unknowns that may arise in life, like an accident on the freeway when we are already running late.

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

Fatherly Advice That Will Change Your Journey Through Parenthood

One father’s words of wisdom this Father’s Day. “Eventually, I had to let that go and realize that there is no way I can do this alone. I need the support of other stay at home fathers, parents and a community to help me get through the harder times.”

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