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Fatherhood Journey featured in article on Parenting Workshops

August 11, 2012


Valley Kids Magazine, Greenfield Recorder 08/02/2012, Page V43

The follow excerpt is from:
Not your typical parenting workshops

Valley parents find (or start) groups just right for them


Special to Valley Kids 

The Fatherhood Journey
John Engel also has been wrestling with issues of identity since becoming a parent, and looking for a place where he can do so with peers. Before moving to the Valley a few years ago, Engel lived in Colorado, where he’d belonged to a peer-led men’s group. “It was really a pretty amazing way of examining how I was living, how I wanted to live, and have conversations with other men that were real … Deep conversations about life’s questions and challenges just really appealed to me.”
After Engel’s wife gave birth to their first child, he was eager for that same kind of forum, this time to talk specifically about the complexities of fatherhood. His kids were born with midwifery practices — a model, he says, that does a great job supporting the needs of moms and babies, as it should. Still, he says, “As a father, I felt my needs were nowhere near the front of the line. … It was a little surprising. I felt like a very distant second or third.”

Engel wasn’t looking for the sort of “daddy boot camps” that focus on basic parenting skills — if you need instruction on how to change a diaper, Engel points out, you can find it on YouTube — but rather a place for examining “ the emotional terrain of your own self as a father. … You can’t go to YouTube for that. Google isn’t going to cut it, if you’re trying to get to something deeper about your fatherhood experience.

”Engel, who now lives in Northampton with his wife and two kids, couldn’t find the group he was searching for in the Valley. So, like Capogna-Amias, he created his own. A professional life coach, Engel hosts quarterly gatherings for dads, called “The Fatherhood Journey” at Florence’s Cup and Top Café. He also writes a monthly column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette by the same name.Both, he says, are part of his larger mission: “to promote private and public conversations about fatherhood.”The group is open to dads with children of any age; attendees have included grandfathers and an emptynester dad considering his role now that his kids are grown.

Looking ahead, Engel would like to help create a group where men and women could come together to talk about the kinds of issues tackled in the Fatherhood Journey group. While he’s been asked about including women in the existing group, he maintains that there’s a real value in a dads-only setting. “My intention is not to offer something that’s not for mothers. I’m trying to support needs of fathers that don’t seem to be met in many ways, if ever, in this area.”

MAUREEN TURNER is a Valley-based journalist who lives with her family in Florence. She has a master’s degree in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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