TEEN program coaches young dads

TEEN fathering classMany of the young men sitting in Jonathan Bigger’s TEEN fathering class have not had great role models.

“There’s such a disconnect from young guys and their fathers—especially with kids in the TEEN program who may not have had good experience with their own dads,” said Biggers. “They don’t know how to be good fathers.”

That’s one of the main reasons the Centralia College TEEN program offers a fathering class—to give 14-19-year-old dads the tools to change the cycle of dysfunction.

The change, Biggers said, starts by asking them what kind of man they want to be.

“Almost every one of them says they don’t want to be like their dad or their parent,” he said.

Unless teen dads intentionally decide to be different and take steps to learn positive parenting skills, Biggers says they will inevitably fall into the same bad habits as their own parents.

Biggers, a local pastor and father of three, shares honestly with the guys about his own “not so great relationship” with his dad. He wants the teen dads to know that “despite what they’ve been given, it’s not impossible to get where they want to go.”

Biggers and his teaching assistant Isaac Wulff, who has adopted and fostered kids in addition to raising his own, work together to teach foundational fathering skills. Using interactive discussions, games, and word pictures, they creatively illustrate the importance of goal-setting, strategizing, and good communication—skills that will help not only in parenting, but in all aspects of life.

Biggers, who has taught the class for two years, says his personal goal for the teen dads and future fathers is “that they would see it’s possible to have good relationships and feel confident enough to move forward in accomplishing their goals, to see progress.”

The TEEN fathering class uses the Nurturing Fathers curriculum by Mark Perlman, the same used in the Dynamic Dads community fathering class, also offered by Centralia College in a partnership with Family Education and Support Services out of Olympia. The teen version was first integrated into Centralia College’s TEEN program over five years ago to address the unique needs faced by teenage fathers.

For more information about the TEEN fathering class, contact Kristi Jewell, TEEN program manager, at 360-736-9391, ext. 650 or kjewell@centralia.edu

For more information about the Dynamic Dads fathering class, which will be offered to the community again this fall, contact Linda Wilcox at 360-736-9391, ext. 464 or lwilcox@centralia.edu. The Dynamic Dads class is open to the community and helps dads learn healthy fathering practices, nurturing the children in their care and growing as dads.

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