Helping fathers become better dads - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helping fathers become better dads

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Monday was opening night at the Vermont Lake Monsters game. Matthew Crain sat alongside his two sons as they took in the game.

Matthew Crain never knew his father, but through the help of a fatherhood support group in Burlington, he’s working to become the best father he can be.

“You can have all the problems in a home you want, but if you're not willing to make changes in yourself, you're not gonna see those changes in your home,” said Crain who lives at the COTS family home in Burlington.

Even as he struggles to support his family, Crain says he always finds time to develop a nurturing relationship with his son. Crain is one of about 25 dads who works with the Visiting Nurses Association every week to boost their parenting skills.

“I walked through this door thinking all my issues were just my issues,” Crain said. “And I found out very quickly sitting in my dad's group that that's not the case."

The weekly workshops focus on patience, communication and working with a spouse or partner to find shared success.

“There is no professional to parenting. Nobody has it all down,” Crain admitted.

Crain’s father left his home just after he was born. At the age of three, the person that he now calls dad came into his life. He says he missed out on opportunities like attending a baseball game with his stepfather, and he’s determined to not make the same mistake with his sons.

"For a couple of years, my dad and I didn't talk at all for something that I did wrong,” Crain said. “It hurt my dad a lot, and until we took the time to get back in touch, we didn't realize what we're missing. Until I had these guys, [my son Hayden] and my son Thomas, I didn't realize what I was missing either.”

These men say they're thankful to be working with the VNA -- hoping it helps to strengthen the father-son bonds that many of them never had.

Josh Edelbaum, the program’s director, said many of the program’s participants use the program to make up for the father they never had.

“A lot of the men that we see here don't have great examples of what fatherhood and manhood look like in their life,” Edelbaum said. “It's much of what gets shared.”

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