You set your alarm for 5:00 a.m., an extra hour early to ensure you have time to navigate the unplannable. Your morning is filled with meal preparation and medication scheduling as you squeeze in last-minute requests from your boss. You wake your child as late as possible, ensuring they get every minute of sleep they need to embrace the day — simultaneously praying they get up on the right side of the bed. Luckily, they roll over, open their eyes and smile.
They say “fatherhood isn’t for the faint of heart” — and they’re right. It can be one of the most physically, mentally and emotionally demanding jobs in the world, and when raising a child with a disability, it requires an extra level of patience. But you’ll find it’s the most rewarding profession the world can offer you.
They also say, “it takes a village,” and while men in general are less apt to speak up when they need help, it doesn’t mean they need it any less. But where do you go when you feel like you’re on this journey alone?
Well, first off, you’re not. The Exceptional Student Services (ESS) Special Education Advisory Panel (SEAP) found over 12% of Arizona K-12 parents have a child with a disability and this doesn’t account for those schooling at home or not yet of school-age years. Secondly, other dads want to talk and share . . . with you. That’s why the Arizona Family Involvement Center created the “Dad Together” program. It’s a place for dads, dads-to-be and father figures to share frustrations, joys and achievements without judgment.
Among its many offerings, the “Dad Together” program helps fathers:
- Connect with other dads
- Develop coping mechanisms
- Manage child behavior lovingly
- Resolve conflict safely
- Learn conflict-resolution strategies
- Create teamwork and healthy co-parenting habits
Plus, it’s completely free. The group is open to dads with kids of all abilities — you can attend in person or virtually.
Connecting with a fellow dad who’s been through challenges themselves can provide a sense of relief and reassurance you may not have experienced before. Whether your child is facing a new diagnosis, or you have been on this journey for years, we are here for you. And, if you’ve figured out how to navigate this journey more smoothly than others, congrats, I’d like to invite you to join me as we are hiring experienced fathers to join our ranks.
We’re building a village of fathers, strong fathers, because that’s what you do when you have the most important job in the world.
To connect, go to the FamilyInvolvementCenter.org