Building stronger fathersHealthy Henry County Communities sponsors Boot Camp for New Dads
By Bryce Kelly, Mt. Pleasant News
There are some new dads in Henry County and they are ready to meet the challenges of parenting head-on.
Over a half dozen fathers took advantage of a three-hour crash course in parenting in the Boot Camp for New Dads course on Saturday at Henry County Health Center.
The name of the course, while slightly deceiving, is in fact a teaching course for dads with any number of young kids. Saturday’s class, taught by local fathers Jeremy Klopfenstein and Ryan Duffie, saw dads with several children all the way down to dads expecting their first child.
“I went through the class once before as a new dad, and I really liked it,” said Duffie, insisting his positive experience with the course as a student made him want to start teaching the course to other dads. “I like teaching this because I love giving dads the confidence to care for and handle their baby because to be honest, when I became a dad for the first time, I really didn’t know a lot, and there is a lot to know.”
Duffie is now the father of two boys.
The course, which deals with the basic how-to’s such as changing diapers, preparing bottles, installing car seats, etc., also covers more complicated matters such as how to identify and respond to postpartum depression, positive communication between mother and father, and dealing with the stress of a new baby.
For Klopfenstein, who helped bring this class to the local area and has been teaching it since it started in Henry County, said he felt the need for parenting classes geared towards fathers was lacking in rural areas like southeast Iowa.
“I am a dad, but I am also a school teacher, so I have seen first-hand from a teacher’s perspective the impact dads have on a kid’s life and this class talks a lot about that. Plus, this is a parenting class taught from a male’s perspective, which is really helpful,” said Klopfenstein, the father of three boys himself.
Among the dads attending the class was Brandon Harrison, of New London. Harrison and his wife are expecting their first child in April, and says he wanted to attend the Boot Camp to hear and learn from other dads.
“I know a decent amount about kids being an elementary school teacher, however I just don’t have a ton of experience with little babies. My wife, on the other hand, knows quite a bit about babies. I think I just lack the experience that she has, so I thought this class would help,” he said.
Justin Gatlin, also a newcomer to the class, along with his three-month old daughter, Guinevere, said he thought the class would be a good way to learn new skills and hear from other dads.
“I had been trying to get to one of these classes since before my daughter was born, but I just hadn’t really had the chance,” he said, saying one of the biggest challenges of fatherhood has been trying to function well on little sleep. “It’s nice to be around other guys in the same boat as me.”
Unlike Harrison, who will soon be experiencing the life-changing aspects of fatherhood, three-time course attendee, Taylor Swinscoe, of Salem, says he’s back for a third class because he finds the classes informative and instructive. Swinscoe now has three kids and says despite being a veteran dad, he still finds things within the class to learn, and says the camaraderie between the other fathers and the instructors is great.
Boot Camp for New Dads is sponsored by Healthy Henry County Communities, and will be held again on May 6 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information on the course, visit www.healthyhenrycounty.org.