How the pandemic is shedding light on need for parenting classes like Fathers First

Fathers First continues to build up dads online amid coronavirus pandemic

ROANOKE, Va. – Father’s Day is just a few short days away but there’s a local program that celebrates fatherhood 365 days a year.

Fathers First is a 10-week program through Total Action for Progress (TAP) on discipline, communication, parenting and handling emotion in healthier ways.

Since the pandemic, class materials are either mailed out or done virtually.

Instructors tell 10 News it can be difficult not being able to have valuable and sometimes emotional discussions in person to drive classes.

It can also be challenging to not have a Father’s Day celebration. But Lateefah Trent, mentor coordinator for the program tells 10 News those challenges don’t compare to the difficulties that arise in a household when they don’t have a class. That, along with the pandemic becoming a parenting lesson itself, is why they decided to move on with the class virtually.

“One of the things that we also talk about is coping skills, things you can do to kind of give yourself a break, partner with the mother of the child. Not all parents live together so if you don’t live with the mother of your child what can you do to relieve that and take on some of those responsibilities,” said Trent.

Trent said studies show an absent father can impact a child mentally, physically and spiritually.

Especially during a time of change and uncertainty, kids are looking to parents for answers. Ed Hrinya, fatherhood development specialist for First Fathers said he wants to help give local fathers the tools they need to handle conversations like that.

“They’re looking at us as adults to figure out how we handle this, how do we still keep going on when everything is in such flux in the world. So really giving our parents the tools they need to help their children during this time is very important,” said Hrinya.

Hrinya also mentions they offer classes at local jails too so those dads can connect with their children and be better fathers despite the distance.

This program is catered to fathers but is open to moms.

To learn more about the program, volunteer opportunities or to sign up for a class, click here.

This program is available to parents in Alleghany County, Covington, Roanoke City, Roanoke County and Salem.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.