The Nurturing Fathers Program (NFP) on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune offers fathers a chance to build their parenting skills and discover more about themselves. It challenges fathers to ask themselves if they are tough enough to be gentle. The class runs year-round and can be joined at any time. Classes run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Deborah Burns, the clinical supervisor of prevention and education, is a licensed clinical social worker who works with the NFP.
“We believe in developing healthy relationships towards preventing domestic violence,” said Burns. “Service members tend to be hardened due to the job they do, and most of them are accustom to having people do what they are told when they are told to do it. That does not always happen when raising children. We teach fathers how to use patience and understanding when dealing with children.”
Several of the courses focus on personal growth and offer ways to learn about oneself, build self-awareness and identify ways to make choices that will benefit their goals and dreams. It helps develop the practical skills needed to communicate, understand and relate to others at work and at home.
There is also an anger management portion that deals with uncontrolled anger. This section teaches fathers you how to appropriately address conflict, become less reactionary and calm themself when angered. Additional sections focus on marriage and job stressors, learning coping skills and strategies and building and maintaining successful relationships.
“Fathers have become more involved than ever before, challenging gender stereotypes and societal views towards fathers is changing,” Burns said. “However, many of the fathers that come here came from single family homes or from homes with very negative father role models. We try to instill the value of good parenting and reinforce the fact that, while the stress of parenting is hard on parents, it has a lasting effect on children.”
Burns noted that helping oneself is a way for fathers to grow their family bonds.
“We all have stuff in our past that we have to deal with,” Burns said. “It is important to know what your baggage is and how to engage with your children without passing on your baggage to them.”
For more information on the NFP, go to mccslejeune-newriver.com/prevention.