While some men may believe that being a father is just a matter of instinct, no man (or woman) was ever born knowing how to change a diaper.

However, the Kansas Children’s Service League Fatherhood Program can help with this and other aspects of being a good dad.

While some men may believe that being a father is just a matter of instinct, no man (or woman) was ever born knowing how to change a diaper.
However, the Kansas Children’s Service League Fatherhood Program can help with this and other aspects of being a good dad.

“This program is new to Crawford County,” said Travis Alexander, KCSL fatherhood coordinator for southeast Kansas.

He said that the program, financed by an SRS grant, has four major parts, including Conscious Fathering classes.

“This is a class for dads from prenatal to 1-year-old babies that teach the five basic needs of the newborn baby, along with keys to how babies communicate, how to not only meet the baby’s needs but anticipate them and the importance of developing a healthy, positive relationship with the baby’s mother,” Alexander said. “Via Christi Hospital is a major part of this and hosts it.”

The one-time three-hour class includes, for example, how to soothe and deal with a crying baby, which can be an extremely frustrating experience.

“Over 50 percent of cases of shaken baby syndrome are done by a male,” Alexander said.

He said he knew, from his own experiences when his son was crying so much, that there are times when Dad just needs to gently put the baby in its crib and back away for a time.

“Each class participant gets a life-size baby doll to work on during class,” Alexander said. “People ask me what I do all day, and I tell them I play with dolls.”

He added that the class is free, but registration is required so that there will be enough dolls for participants.

Then there’s DADS, which stands for Daily Adventures Daily Surprises.

“This meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, usually on the last Monday of the month, but that’s probably going to be rescheduled in October, November and December,” he said. “DADS is parent-led. They choose a topic, and we get a program on it.”

There’s also a quarterly newsletter, which Alexander said always includes an activity that dads can do with their children.

Future KCSL activities planned include a Fatherhood Summit meeting in February or March in Pittsburg, which would bring together fathers and community partners to network, learn about the importance of fatherhood and lay “stepping stones” to promote and embrace fatherhood in the community, and establishment of  a Fatherhood Advisory Council which would guide efforts for fatherhood within the programs and services offered in the community.

“We’ll also do a Parents Cafe, which will look at how the community supports dads, what more do they need and how can we get it to them,” Alexander said.

He stressed that these are not programs aimed at “bad” dads.

“These are programs and services for those who want to be the best dad they can be,” Alexander said. “Some groups may have a 40-year-old man and a 16-year-old, both fathers for the first time, and it’s amazing how much they can help each other.”

A father of two, he’s had some on-the-job training in the ups and downs that come with parenthood.

“I’ve sat in the ER, not knowing if our baby was going to come home,” Alexander said. “Then I heard him cry and knew that meant he was able to breathe. It was the biggest relief.”

He said that KCSL fatherhood programs are available in both English and Spanish.

“My counterpart in Douglas County speaks Spanish, and when there’s a need will come down to  do that,” Alexander said.

Anyone wishing additional information may contact him at 620-232-1031 or call the KCSL at 1-877-530-5275.