Dads’ Class 101 Published May 23, 2018 By By Tech. Sgt. Michael Simmons Jr., Dads’ 101 Facilitator ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Dads’ Class 101 is a parenting class facilitated by fathers for expectant dads, first-time dads or dads who simply need a refresher. It is sponsored by the Family Advocacy Program and held on a monthly basis. The class is available to both military and civilians assigned to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Feltwell. The class is unique in that unlike other parenting classes, it is male only. The course material caters specifically to the male’s roles and responsibilities in parenting. It covers a wide range of topics beginning with the pregnant woman’s first trimester to the infant’s 12 months. The classroom environment is an open forum for questions and to share personal experiences. There are also hands-on activities; including demonstrations on how to change a diaper, swaddle a baby and the correct ways to hold an infant. Most memorable for many students is the chance to wear the “empathy belly,” a pregnancy simulation suit. Wearing the belly provides insight on pregnancy and the physical challenges. Dads’ 101 provides a comforting and welcoming environment for participants to network, share experiences and to ask questions about the things they are unsure of when it comes to fatherhood. I was presented with the opportunity to become a facilitator by my supervisor who is also a facilitator. When he first approached me and asked if I would be interested in supporting, I was a little hesitant in saying yes. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the class or what would be expected of me. I was unsure if anyone would be interested in hearing my personal experience, or my advice. After completing the facilitator training, learning more about the class and interacting with the other dads, all my worries went away. The sharing of personal experiences and relating to others with similar experiences was reassuring. I knew I made a great decision. For this type of class, a learning environment, people are more inclined to participate if they can connect with the instructor due to a sense of mutual understanding. As a proud father of four children, three daughters and a son, Dads’ Class 101 gives me the opportunity to help new fathers. Also, as an only child, it gives me the chance to talk about my positive interactions with my dad. My father is my role model. He is a great father, grandfather and friend. I use the role-playing during the class to demonstrate many things he taught me. What I like most about the class is that it is a male-only course. I think this gives the expecting fathers an opportunity to hear stories from each other and it gives the facilitators the opportunity to answer questions or concerns based on personal experience. Dads’ 101 allows me to use what my own father has taught me to mentor first-time dads about the “unknowns” of fatherhood. It is also a unique opportunity to help strengthen families. For anyone interested in registering for the next class or for additional information, call Family Advocacy at 226-8070.