Nat – Finding a community

Nat is a Maple Ridge father of three: seven-year-old Zeva, four-year-old Zola and three-year-old Zerxes.

“The thing that I love most about being a dad,” he says, “is getting to see all their energy and all of the amazing firsts.”

He is a regular participant and mentor with Daddy and Me, a local drop-in program for dads and male caregivers delivered through Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Community Services, a United Way partner agency. Once a week, he connects with other dads, plays with his children and accesses different resources and supports specifically geared toward fathers.

Reaching out

“I reached out to this program when I was a new dad because I felt like I didn’t know many other new dads,” says Nat. “Working full-time, I didn’t have many opportunities to go out and connect with them. My wife was a part of some daytime programs and I saw how much they were able to do for her.”

He knows that it’s not easy for many new fathers, who either aren’t prepared for their new role in the family or don’t know how to connect with community supports.

“Everybody says, ‘Be a dad! Be a part of your kid’s life!’ but a lot of people haven’t had a good role model to be able to teach them what to do.”

Competing opinions and advice for male caregivers can also be distracting.

“There are a million books out there on how to be a dad. You read one, and it contradicts the last one,” he says.

One of the best things about the program is that it offers a safe, judgment-free zone for fathers who want to learn from and support each other.

“Having involved, caring dads is important to families and communities.”

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Building a community

“As a new dad, you get overwhelmed a lot. Having a community and someone to talk to, you realize that ‘I’m not the only guy feeling this way about my kid.’

“Your struggles are real, someone else has gone through them. And maybe you find out a different approach that you hadn’t thought of taking. It makes a sometimes overwhelming experience, not so overwhelming.”

Nat now serves as a mentor to many of the new dads who arrive at the program for the first time. He wants to ensure they feel confident in their new roles and can be positive, caring fathers to their children.

“Having involved, caring dads is important to families and communities because it’s like a body – if it’s not working together properly, it’s just not working.”

“Having someone to talk to, you realize that ‘I’m not the only guy feeling this way.'”

A photo of Verdann and Taj

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Tracy GreenNat