Newest Circle of Parents Group Offers a Way for Military Fathers to Safely Support Each Other

Denver, CO — Having a network of people to turn to when parenting gets stressful is critical to the well-being of children and families, as well as the economic health of Colorado. According to Illuminate Colorado, surveys among parents in Colorado prior to the pandemic highlighted the critical need to increase social connections among people parenting in Colorado. While 50% of Colorado parents think other parents ask for help with parenting, the reality is that only one in five parents in Colorado reported asking for support with parenting and one in five said they have no one to turn to for day to day emotional support with raising children.

“These results raised red flags dating all the way back to 2016, long before the pandemic impacted Coloradans’ lives in so many ways. We know that things didn’t get easier for anyone parenting over the last several months. That is why we are working with parents, schools, libraries, government and community-based organizations and businesses to do more to help parents build their network of support right now,” said Jade Woodard executive director of Illuminate Colorado.

Illuminate Colorado is a statewide nonprofit working to strengthen families, organizations and communities to prevent child maltreatment by 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 judgement.

People raising children of all ages can find statewide and local circles of parents connecting at CircleofParentsCO.org. Groups have come together based on their location as well as shared experiences, like military service, parenting while in recovery from a substance use disorder and parenting a child with special needs. Others simply want to connect with people in a similar parenting role, like the kinship, grandparenting and fatherhood Circle groups.  

The newest circle to form is led by two military veteran fathers who recognized a void in their community for fathers attempting to figure out how to jump back into parenthood while working to overcome other struggles that often accompany serving abroad. Their group known as Fathers of Freedom will meet online every Tuesday via Zoom beginning November 17th from 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm.

“The biggest reason I started this group was because being a stay at home father who is a combat veteran and has battled a lot of things over the years, at times have begun to feel isolated and withdrawn from the rest of society,” said Adrian Nunez, one of the founding members of the Circle of Parents group Fathers of Freedom, pictured with his two children. “I wanted to create a safe place for other Veteran fathers to meet up, encourage and support each other through the thick and thin of life to really step out of our comfort zones to grow.”

“Parents drive the conversations. We are just building the space to connect. We know that parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. All parents need people they can call on once in a while when they need a sympathetic listener, advice or support. That is why we want to grow Circle of Parents groups all over Colorado,” said Woodard.

Illuminate Colorado offers training, ongoing support and promotion to the 43 Circle groups meeting mostly online right now. There are plans in place to grow to nearly 60 Circle groups throughout Colorado by the end of 2021.

For more information or to speak with parents and caregivers connected through Circle of Parents in Colorado or a prevention expert, please contact Katie Facchinello at 303-246-2062 and Kfacchinello@illuminatecolorado.org

Circle of Parents® support groups offer a safe, friendly, confidential, non- judgmental, supportive environment to share with and learn from other parents. It’s a place where anyone in a parenting role can openly celebrate success, address challenges, find information and resources to support raising children.

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