Boot Camp For New Dads
by Aaron Ansarov, Reprinted from All Hands, Magazine of the U.S. Navy, July 2001
"Eight...Nine...10...OK. Now breathe! You're doing so good, Honey," he says to his wife in the delivery room at Balboa naval medical Center. "SHUT UP!" she screams in reply as she tries to push out their 8-pound, 14-ounce baby boy.
He has it easy. Just count to 10 for her while she holds her breath and pushes during contractions. Maybe he'll give a few words of kindness and confidence every now and then to show her he cares about her pain; the whole ordeal will be over before they know it - if he's lucky.
But that's just the delivery. Now comes the real fun.
He is about to enter the next level in his life - parenthood. But where's the instruction manual? Where's the 1-800 help line? Where are the answers to all the questions a new dad has about raising a baby?
New moms seem to get their advice from everyone - friends and relatives, nurses and doctors, even strangers on the street who pass along their little tidbits of info. But for new dads, they are left pretty high and dry. They browse the internet, watch TV, even sneak behind the wife's back to read books such as, "What to Expect When Expecting," but there's still something missing.
I've been reading a ton of books," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ernald Ongsioco of San Diego Naval Base. "The books help a little, but as far as babies are concerned, it's hands-on that works best."
Maybe it's a guy thing, maybe not, but it's kind of difficult and embarrassing to ask your wife why green stuff is dripping down the little one's leg, or better yet, how to put that new fandangled outfit on the baby - just how many holes and snaps can one baby suit have?
That's when the "Boot Camp for New Dads" comes in. No, it's not a bunch of scared men, being dropped to do push-ups if they don't get the diaper on right. Nor do the dads-to-be get cycled out for not getting perfect creases in the baby's one piece. It's a growing program at more than 100 sites in 34 states, dedicated to helping rookie fathers get together with veteran dads and discuss issues and concerns about the strange new world of parenthood.
Veteran dads bring their babies into classrooms at various fleet family service centers for a three-hour focus group on being the best dad possible. "There's no topic we won't discuss here," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold Heatley, an instructor for the class. "I've attended four classes and instructed two, and I wish I had this class back when I had my first kids."
The floor is open at the boot camp. Any question a father-to be would want to ask can be answered here. All kinds of advice from preparing for the in-laws to getting enough sleep at night.
This class gives a feel for what is about to change or has changed at home, and all in an effort to keep everything at a man-to-man level. There are no uniforms to distinguish rank., and there are no females allowed (except for the ones in diapers).
Most new fathers have never held a baby before let alone changed a diaper, yet here they are about to start doing it at least several times a day for the next couple of years. On top of that, studies show that the first six weeks of a baby's life are the most trying for parents. It can be a very stressful and embarrassing time for some men.
For some, being a father comes very naturally. They've grown up with younger siblings or have been around babies enough to know what's expected. Other men don't have it as easy. Work-related stress, a broken-down car combined with the added expense of diapers, sleepless nights, a postpartum wife and a sick baby - can all add up to a dysfunctional situation. One of the major points discussed at the boot camp is how to deal with these frustrations, and how to not bring them home to your new family.
No matter what happens, being a parent is not something that will come and go. It is a change for life, and every father should take appropriate steps to make it the best time for his child and his family - even if it means going back to boot camp.
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400 Boot Camp For New Dads ?Coaches? Recognized For Their Efforts in Helping New Dads to Hit the Ground Running
1.4 million men become fathers for the first time each year in America. 90% participate in their child’s birth. On any given Saturday in communities across America, approximately 400 veteran fathers are preparing fathers-to-be to ?hit the ground crawling? when their first baby arrives.
They are the ?coaches? of Boot Camp for New Dads, a unique man-to-man training workshop that operates in 40 states and the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force. The class is offered at more than 200 hospitals, clinics, schools
Since 1990, Boot Camp coaches have oriented over 100,000 men on the challenges of fatherhood, ranging from calming crying babies to helping their mates cope with the often overwhelming impacts of motherhood. They are assisted by program graduates who return with their babies to prepare the next group of ?rookies?, with the babies adding a serious dose of reality. With veterans, rookies and babies, Boot Camp has been characterized as a ?nursery in a locker room?. Boot Camp For New Dads is a non-profit organization.
This Father’s Day, we celebrate the passion, commitment, and resolve of these men who make this possible. Driven by the love they have for their own children and guided by a desire for others to feel the same way, these men use their energy to inspire men who are embarking on their own fatherhood journey.
Boot Camp coaches are ordinary guys with an extraordinary passion for passing on a view of fatherhood that is vast, encouraging and motivating. It is this attitude that inspires others to approach their fatherhood experience with a perspective that is both informed and laced with high expectations.
Failure is not an option for today’s father, and it is the Boot Camp coaches job to insure every guy who is becoming a dad knows this fact and embraces its spirit. Under the leadership of the coach, a culture of accountability grows among the men of Boot Camp, a culture that allows little room for error but is here to support every man who wants to do the job well for his family.
The coach represents a grassroots response to the host of social ills, caused by ineffective fathering, that permeate our society. In a time when our heroes disappoint and role models are lacking, these are the guys who are stepping up, quietly making a statement about what it means to be a man. They are role models in the truest sense to their brothers, neighbors, and communities-they walk the talk.
This experience is not entirely selfless, and any coach will tell you that leading Boot Camp helps him be a better father as well. On Saturday afternoon when Boot Camp is done and he goes home and reconnects with his kids, he does so with a renewed sense of how important fatherhood is. He is more patient, listens more closely and hugs his kids a little tighter. It doesn’t get much better than this.
BOOT CAMP FOR NEW DADS LOCATIONS:
ALASKA (Anchorage); ARIZONA (Chandler, Flagstaff, Kingman, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sun City); ARKANSAS (Springdale); CALIFORNIA (Apple Valley, Bakersfield, Corona, Fresno, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Madera, Northridge, Oakland, ORANGE, Pomona, Port Hueneme, San Diego, San Jose, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Travis); COLORADO (Aurora, Boulder, Denver, Ft. Carson, Greeley, Longmont); CONNECTICUT (Bristol, Danbury); FLORIDA (Clearwater, Hollywood, NORTH PALM BEACH, Sarasota, Tampa); GEORGIA (Atlanta, Elberton, Gainesville, Marietta); HAWAII (Pearl Harbor); ILLINOIS (Alton, Aurora, Carbondale, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Decatur, East St. Louis, Evanston, Geneva, Great Lakes, Highland Park, Libertyville, Moline, Oak Park, Rockford, Springfield, Urbana); INDIANA (Anderson, Bluffton, Crawfordsville, Hammond, Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Kokomo, Michigan City, South Bend); IOWA (Des Moines, Jefferson, Sioux City, STORM LAKE); KANSAS (Topeka); LOUISIANA (Covington), MAINE (Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Waterville); MASSACHUSETTS (Beverly, Plymouth, South Weymouth, Springfield); MICHIGAN (Ann Arbor, Centreville, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Niles, St. Joseph); MINNESOTA (Duluth, Robbinsdale); MISSISSIPPI (Laurel, Tupelo); MISSOURI (Columbia, Jefferson City); MONTANA (Billings, Helena); NEBRASKA ( KEARNEY); NEW HAMPSHIRE (Manchester, Portsmouth); NEW YORK (Glens Falls, Watertown); NORTH CAROLINA (Charlotte, Fort Bragg, Morehead City, Raleigh, Shelby); NORTH DAKOTA (Grand Forks); OHIO (Akron, East Cleveland, East Liverpool, Lima, Lorain, Massillon, Middleburg Heights, Portsmouth, Toledo, Warren, Youngstown); OKLAHOMA (Claremore, Tulsa); OREGON (Hillsboro, Salem); PENNSYLVANIA (DuBois, Pottsville); SOUTH CAROLINA (Greenwood, Pickens, Walhalla); TENNESSEE (Chattanooga, GREENEVILLE, KNOXVILLE); TEXAS (Fairfield, Lubbock, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Waco, Webster); VERMONT (Barre, Battleboro, Burlington, Middlebury, Morrisville, Rutland, St. Albans); VIRGINIA (Charlottesville, Chesapeake, Hampton); WASHINGTON (Everett, Longview, Puyallup, Seattle); WEST VIRGINIA (Wheeling); WISCONSIN (Florence, Green Bay, Madison, Watertown); JAPAN (Yokosuka)
For more information about Boot Camp for New Dads, please call (949)
786-3146 or visit http://www.newdads.com