Meet Greg Harris, a stay-at-home dad in Brentwood.  He recently started a father’s group at the Delta First 5 Center for East County dads.  Here’s why: 

I  suddenly became a stay-at-home dad when I lost my job last year. I woke up one Monday morning, my wife went to work, and I looked at my three-year-old daughter and thought, “Now what?”

In those early days, we spent our time at the park, taking classes at the Delta First 5 Center, and going on lots of walks. It wasn’t long before we had formed a new bond. It was amazing.

One morning my wife, daughter, and I were at the farmer’s market and saw a booth for a local parent’s club/playgroup. When I told the organizer I was the stay-at-home parent she said, “Oh, we don’t really want dads in our group.”

Aside from offending me, this got my wheels turning. I thought about all the trips to the park where I would see moms who didn’t know each other sit and chat while their kids played. Whenever I tried to join the conversation, they made me feel like a creep.

I figured other dads might feel this way too so I asked staff at the First 5 Center if I could start a fathers group. We’ve had a dozen or so dads sign up, but only a handful have come. The dads who have also say they often feel left out.

We started out as a support group, but have evolved it into a time where we do an activity and just talk. It seems easier for most guys to open up about the day, the kids, the wife or ex wife, when our hands and minds are occupied doing something else. We also have had a “date night” where we had the wives/girlfriends come and we had a hamburger cook off, while the kids played in the center.

The group has been a place for us to relate to each other. We don’t want to be told how to raise our kids by someone else, but we will take advice from a peer. It’s also great networking for play dates or business connections.

Growing up dads made money; moms stayed home. But more moms are working full time now, and with the economy, more dads are at home either working from home or unemployed. The role reversal does put a twist on things.

I think it’s very important for dads not only to be a part of a child’s life, but also part of their day. Just in the year I’ve been out of work, I’ve seen a huge change in my daughter.  She’s grown into a more confident person, and so have I.

To learn more about the Delta Dads group, contact 925-516-3880.  All five First 5 Centers provide activities for dads.  Find their monthly class schedules here.

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