It’s 5 o’clock on a Thursday evening. Most folks are navigating the Huntsville traffic, heading for home after the workday. But several young men gather around a conference table at the Huntsville Pregnancy Resource Center (HPRC) on Rands Avenue, actively engaged in a discussion on the values that will help shape their homes in the months and years ahead. These men are expectant fathers who are taking part in HPRC’s first Fatherhood class. HPRC, a ministry of Choose Life, launched these classes in June for fathers-to-be to come together, support one another and learn about their vital role.
And it’s obvious this is a priority for them.
A Father’s Importance in His Child’s Life
“I want to be the kind of Dad I didn’t have when I was growing up,” the youngest in the group says.
“It’s natural to offer expectant women support,” said Kathy Hall, executive director for the Huntsville Pregnancy Resource Center (HPRC). “But, here at HPRC, we recognize the important role fathers play from the very beginning of a child’s life. We celebrate dads and want to equip them with tools to help them raise happy, successful children and lead their families with confidence.”
“Our coaches use a curriculum called, ‘Leading Your Family,’” said Heidi Gomes, director of HPRC’s Practical Parenting Program. This accurately reflects the goal for our Fatherhood classes,” Gomes explained. “We need role models. We need men who are spiritual leaders who want to be involved in their children’s lives. The family is the fundamental building block of society, and when dads are successful, everyone wins,” she added.
Coaches, Mentors and Camaraderie
The Fatherhood classes are led by community volunteers, all of whom are seasoned dads and enjoy mentoring young men who are stepping into that role.
Michael Stewart coaches HPRC’s Fatherhood class on Thursday evenings. The three young men in tonight’s session all look to him with respect and—maybe—just a little bit of awe. Stewart has seven children, ranging in ages from eleven years to mid-twenties.
“My wife and I had our first daughter really young,” one student offers. “It was just trial and error for us,” he says. “With another one on the way, I’m glad I’ve got a mentor and coach who’s been there. I mean if he’s [Stewart] got seven kids, surely he has good advice to help me guide, discipline and be a spiritual leader for my two,” he laughs.
The smiles and good-natured laughter around the table reveal a special camaraderie Stewart shares with these fathers-to-be.
A student who is expecting twins says, “I know there aren’t any perfect parents. But this class is helping me so much. I want to learn everything I can to try to be the best dad I can possibly be.”
That’s not just good news for his babies; it’s good news for all of us.
Class Schedules and Open House
Fatherhood classes are offered on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and on Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Practical Parenting classes, which address birthing/newborn and infant/toddler care, are open to men and women. More details and full schedule are available on the HPRC website.
And on August 5, 2017, the Huntsville Pregnancy Resource Center invites the community to an Open House and tour of their Rands Avenue facility following their Walk for Life event. For more information about the Walk and Open House, please click here.
For More Information
The Huntsville Pregnancy Resource Center, a ministry of Choose Life, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization offering comprehensive pregnancy resources, including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, mentoring, adoption advocacy, post-abortion healing counseling, Practical Parenting and Fatherhood classes. For more information or to donate, please visit their website here.
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