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Anthony’s Story

The court had concluded that there was a history of domestic abuse from Anthony towards his children’s mother and Anthony needed support around parenting, understanding the impact of the historical abuse, and improving his co-parenting relationship.

Following a recommendation from the Family Courts, Anthony, who is the father of Ben (6yrs) and Charlie (2yrs) referred himself to Welcare’s Caring Dads programme. The court had concluded that there was a history of domestic abuse from Anthony towards his children’s mother and Anthony needed support around parenting, understanding the impact of the historical abuse, and improving his co-parenting relationship.

It was hoped that by attending the programme Anthony would gain greater insight and understanding into his behaviour and ensure that contact with his children could take place in a safe and child-focussed way. It was also hoped that the course would give Anthony the skills to communicate and co-parent with the children’s mother in a safe, sensitive, and understanding manner.

Anthony had previously been involved in criminal behaviour and was trying to turn his life around. The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques used on the Caring Dads course helped Anthony to put his past in perspective and develop coping strategies to deal with the shame and sadness he felt about his previous behaviour.

Attending Welcare’s Caring Dad’s programme was extremely positive for Anthony; he benefitted from having a safe space with non-judgemental facilitators to help him explore the complex issues within his family and the relationship with his children. After he completed the programme, Anthony provided feedback about his experience. Keep reading to find out what he said.

1) What were your expectations before coming to Caring Dads?

‘For some reason, I felt that I would be judged and punished for my past history of crime and my parent and co-parent skills.’

2) How have you found the course?

‘At first, I was a bit sceptical but as the weeks progressed, I actually enjoyed coming back every week. The course was eye opening, educational, supportive, and very relevant to my family situation and needs.’

3) How has the course impacted your relationship with your children?

‘At the start of the course, I was only having indirect contact with my children, but whilst I was on the course this built into direct contact in a contact centre. I had previously never been to a contact centre and hadn’t seen my eldest son in 2 years and had not yet met my youngest son.

On the course there were many dads that were either in the same situation as me or had been in the past and so they helped me understand what seeing my children in a contact centre would be like. Also a few of the facilitators were currently working in contact centres and were able to give me advice on how to approach and plan my contact sessions, how to build back the relationship with my eldest and build a new relationship with my youngest in a child-centred way.

The course taught me how to deal with my thoughts and feelings as a co-parent and put them into positive actions. I was able to reverse my thinking from being parent-centred to child-centred and this enabled me to put my children and their feelings first. I was given so many little “gems” on the course that will stick with me forever. One thing that particularly stood out for me was the saying, “each one teach one” – kids only do as they see and not what they’re told, such as, if you smoke and tell your child not to smoke they will probably smoke as they have seen you smoke! Lead by example!

I feel that without Caring Dads, I would have struggled to take my pride out of my situation and that would have had a negative effect on my children.

I’m currently still seeing my children in a contact centre and building this up at a child-centered pace. With every session the bond that has been built with my children is unbreakable. I’ve had positive after positive reports and none of this would have been possible without Caring Dads and the support from Welcare and their staff!’

4) Is there anything you have learned about yourself?

‘There are a few things I have learned about myself, but one of the things that has stuck out for me is using the problem-solving triangle called, ”thoughts, feelings and actions”. I have changed the way I think and feel in myself and in my relationship with my children and I have changed the way I act and use the things I have learnt on the course to have a better relationship with my children.’ 

5) What did you enjoy most about Caring Dads?

‘I enjoyed sharing with the group and getting to know the other dads. Every week at the start of the group we would have a catch up when we would tell the group how our week had been and discuss our homework, I found this really helpful.’

6) What did you find most difficult? 

‘I found it difficult to be open and honest about my family’s situation, but once I did, I got some great help and advice that was specific to my own personal situation.’

7) What would you say to a dad thinking about coming to Caring Dads?

‘I would highly recommend that they attend the course, but only if they’re going to give it 100%, you need to be dedicated to the course. I would personally recommend Caring Dads to any dad as I believe 99% of dads would learn a great deal and improve the lives of their children.’

If you would like to make a difference to someone struggling in your local community please spare what you can. We couldn’t do the work we do without the valued help of our supporters.

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