Given the right opportunity, men will open up and confide in others about the challenges they are experiencing in their day-to-day lives. This is what they have discovered at St Lucy’s Primary School in Wahroonga, where a men’s group has been established so that dads who have a child with a disability can get together, connect, take some time out and support one another.
“So often women have a network of friends and make connections with other mums at school while men are not often recognised for their willingness to listen and confide in each other about difficulties,” commented school Principal, Warren Hopley. “In the meetings that we have had so far, there has been no shortage of deep and meaningful sharing about the issues that matter to dads.”
Recently the group of dads got together over a BBQ and a beer to chat about the daily pressure of juggling work and family and the additional challenge of caring for a child with a disability.
“The frustrating lack of support and ignorance from some quarters of our society can be so overwhelming,” one dad said. “But it’s reassuring to hear that others are dealing with the same stress.”
“It has been great to discuss the little challenges, the things that most dads don’t have to worry about, like what it’s like to take a child with special needs to the shopping centre, or for a haircut or to a party,” another dad said.
St Lucy’s men’s group seeks to provide dads with the space and time to share with one another and offer each other support and encouragement. It is hoped that group meetings will help provide strategies for maintaining good mental health and self-care, building resilience and communication skills.
The group was recently addressed by guest speaker Anna Schwartz, a psychologist who spoke about bereavement and sadness.
One dad commented, “The guest speakers that Warren organises to turn up are also informative and provoke good healthy discussion. And for their time given to a bunch of dads, it’s very much appreciated.”
The men’s group meets one evening each term at St Lucy’s School, 21 Cleveland St, Wahroonga. For any enquiries contact the school on 9487 1277.