Disorganized Thoughts about Parenting Workshops — What’s Important?

Would you choose to attend parenting workshops? Would you pay for a plane flight, hotel room and meals to do it?

I suppose if you’re a stay-at-home-dad and you call it a convention, the answer might be yes. Daddyshome, Inc. (aka DC Metro Dads) hosts an At-Home Dads Convention each November.

A current web survey hints at potential workshop topics for this year’s convention. Two of them struck me as slightly depressing.


“Dads With Daughters — This session would address issues faced by at-home dads with daughters. Topics would include talking to your daughter about “feminine issues,” dating, and personal relationships.

Fathers and Sons — Session would be an open discussion session focusing on things that we were taught by our fathers and what we should pass on to our sons. Session would have a few focused topics to be addressed, and efforts would be made to keep the discussion on those specific topics.”

Except for discussing biological differences, why aren’t those workshops the same for sons and daughters? The sons session is vague enough I suppose it could be identical, but seriously, you know it’s not going to be focused on dating and personal relationships.

In short, we need to prepare our girls to cope with boys who are unprepared.

Dads of all types who are getting “more
involved” in the raising of their kids need to learn to teach and role
model for their children things they didn’t learn from their own fathers, or mothers for that matter. A dad can learn to cook, but how do you learn to kiss a knee
and cuddle instead of tell the kid to just shake it off? Or take a dad who didn’t get “the friendships, dating and sex talk” in his own youth from his parents. He has to learn to give that talk to his kids, to sons as well as daughters.

For me, parenting is a continuing crash course in absorbing my wife’s technique while
finding my own. My wife and I each work part-time, a great mix if you can manage it. We have differing approaches to parenting, hers a little more coddling, mine a little more no-nonsense. But there is a
middle ground for loving and lots of give-and-take in how we raise our kids.

Am I being too hard on the dads convention? I was also disappointed by the convention’s (admittedly under development) schedule of pre-convention events for activities in the event region (Sacramento, Calif.). Namely, stereotypically manly events: sporting events and alcohol. I’d be the lone dad attending the Jelly Belly factory tour, and I really don’t like jelly beans.

My wife’s take is more sympathetic: “There’s nothing you’re going to learn in the conference that you can’t get in a book for $14.95. Stay-at-home-dads are pretty disenfranchised. It doesn’t matter what the topics are if you’re getting energy from meeting dads just like you.”

I agree with her to a point. That point is the “Basic Hair Braiding” workshop. That’s the class for me. I’ve got ponytails, hair clips and baubles down, but my wife is lousy at teaching braiding. Having been raised with three brothers, where else would I learn braiding if not from my wife?

Some of the workshop topics apply to any sort of parents, part-time, full-time, man or woman:

  1. Teaching children the value of money.
  2. Early childhood education, what we can teach our children at home to prepare them for school.
  3. Home fire safety and emergency preparedness.
  4. Creating and maintaining child ID kits.

The conference web survey got me thinking…

What workshops would you want to see?
Moms, dads, at the office or at home, what would you want to learn more about?

Hair ranks at the top of my list, followed by cooking for kids and advance preparation for adolescence (which seems to start around 10 or 11-years-old these days).

My inclination is that many of the issues tied up with being a teenager begin as early as the toddler years in terms of confidence, motivation, peer-pressure, body image, ambition and healthy habits. In other words, how well a teen handles being a teen is greatly influenced by the child’s personal qualities nurtured by you long before that point.

I’d want to hear real-world examples of parents who have already navigated these issues. Reading blogs is one thing, hearing it first person and bouncing questions off parents is another.


5 Responses to “Disorganized Thoughts about Parenting Workshops — What’s Important?”

  1. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Hrms… Seems to me that for the sort of issue you mention, an in-person mentor would be better than a conference. Someone you can call at 11pm at night to talk about the issue of the day and get in-the-minute advice.

    May 20th, 2008 at 6:24 am

  2. Jennifer says:

    Let’s face it, a conference is really just a way for a bunch of people in the same general field to get together, network, and have a good time. In the past 3 years, every conference I have attended, I went to zero workshops. Why do Igo then? A great opportunity to network and meet up with people that I only get to see these few times a year (and talk with via email).

    So, the real questions is: is the money you would spend going to this event worth the fun that is promised in return?

    May 20th, 2008 at 7:22 am

  3. AJ says:

    MBR, I think you’re talking less a personal life coach and more a good friend.

    Jennifer, good point. The dynamic changes if you’re attending a conference to meet people you’ve known online.

    So… everyone has parenting wrapped up. No workshops you’d want to attend?

    May 20th, 2008 at 8:35 am

  4. HappyMom says:

    My biggest problem with conferences is having to travel out of town. Arranging babysitting, etc. is a huge pain, and the people I meet are not local. I can’t imagine traveling to a parenting conference.

    However, I love parenting *classes* for several reasons.
    - Although I try very hard, I am not the perfect parent. Getting some new points of view on how to handle “situations” is great
    - I like to meet other parents and hear their stories
    - Meeting once a week for several weeks gives me a chance to practice the material and come back with questions.

    My own personal favorite parenting class is Positive Discipline, from the book by Jane Nelson. It is a lot of work to be more empathetic (and still firm). With practice and mess-ups, I’m getting better.

    I also attended a class on talking to kids about sex. There’s an area that fills me with dread! I’m not ready yet…

    You might consider a Dad’s weekly or monthly support or play group. I have never heard of this, and I think Dads are missing out. Play groups especially are great – your kid has fun and practices social skills, and it gives the parent a regularly scheduled activity. I think Dads face some unique issues, and it would be great to have other Dads to talk with.

    May 20th, 2008 at 10:06 am

  5. Mark says:

    Following from Jennifer’s take, I think that connecting with other at home dads would be good since the experience, from all reports, can be even more isolating for guys doing it than for moms. If there aren’t any at home dads in your immediate area, then having a chance to get together with other dads from around the country would be a good chance to not feel like you’re in it all by yourself.

    May 20th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

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