Parenting course lets dads explore options

Parenting . . . Catholic Social Services director Mike Tonks has been co-ordinating the organisation's Game On parenting course for Dunedin fathers for more than 10 years. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

A parenting course for fathers has been running successfully for more than 10 years, its founder says.

The six-week evening course “Game On”, run by Catholic Social Services director Mike Tonks, covers a variety of parenting topics, including what it means for them to be a father.

Mr Tonks said one of the most powerful moments in the course had been when a father said he could “choose” what kind of father he would be and that he did not have to be the kind of dad his father had been to him.

The course also allowed dads to explore the kind of things they wanted to provide for their children, the best ways for parents and children to communicate, food choices and health.

Several participants from the course had been educating “their mates” about what they had learned, Mr Tonks said.

Many of the fathers on the course had sought it out after getting into difficult circumstances, as people often only tried to change things after they fully recognised there was an issue.

However, the course was open to all fathers, including solo parents and stepfathers, as well as men who were uncles.

Mr Tonks started the course more than 10 years ago after seeing a gap in services.

While there were plenty of parenting courses and support groups for mothers, not as much was available for fathers, he said.

Many fathers had “great plans, great ideas and desires” for their children and they just needed their ideas “affirmed”.

The six-week course runs once a school term. The next Game On course starts on August 2.

For more information or to sign up to the course, call Catholic Social Services on (03) 455-3838 or email