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Tweddle talks health with dads, grandfathers, uncles, mates and Sons of the West

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 03/06/15

When it comes to health, particularly family health, men have historically been left out of the picture.  So when Tweddle had the opportunity to partner with Sons of The West, the Western Bulldogs Football Club initiative to improve the health outcomes for men living and working in the west, we were thrilled. 

Tweddle attended five Health Expos and delivered one hour ‘The Dad Factor’ presentations to hundreds of men living and working in Brimbank, Melton, Hobsons Bay, Wyndham and Maribyrnong.What started off as a program for dads, quickly evolved to encompass a program tailored for grandfathers, uncles, mates, dads, cousins and sons.  Above all else, we wanted men attending these sessions to know how important they were as role models to children in their lives.

The stats tell us that men living in the west are some of the unhealthiest in all of Victoria and Sons of The West want to chip away at these numbers by raising awareness and by helping men live better, eat better and get back into the game of life.

Our presenters were overwhelmingly moved by the commitment made by the men in signing up for the program to make their lives better and their community a better place. By caring for themselves they are changing health outcomes and expectations for the next generations of sons of the west.

Many men approached the Tweddle presenters afterwards, sometimes with questions and sometimes just for a chat.  Many dads wanted to voice their concerns and challenge entrenched gender roles and stereotypes, something we come across every day in our role as parenting educators.

Some were Grandads who were concerned about their grown up sons experiencing the breakdown of a relationship and the impact on their grandchildren.  Some Grandparents had found themselves as primary carers for their grandchildren and were interested in the changes in approaches to behaviour management.

One dad was there with his teenage son, others had grown up with their own father in prison.   Some dads just wanted to chat about how exhausted they were and the pressures on the family and relationships when children weren’t sleeping or they were co-sleeping or having night terrors.

Some participants wanted to challenge aspects of the sessions, conversations which were met with an opportunity for us to get a better understanding of the diverse range of opinions.  We were grateful for this feedback.

Many of the men weren’t used to being asked about how things were for them. Not all men had had positive experiences with their own dads and not all men attending the forums were wanting to talk about being a dad.  Being a good male role model was the unifying theme for everyone as each person had come from a different journey.

Dozens of men were engaged watching the Circle of Security video, an animation which illustrates how we can give a child the confidence and freedom to explore their world while providing a strong, kind, safe and secure base to come back to.  The video explains that by tuning into children and their cues, they will explore their world knowing that they can return for comfort, security and understanding.

Tweddle joined Beyond Blue and White Ribbon Australia in placing the mental health challenges of men front and centre.  Our services are about reminding families that dads and men are critical to the health and developmental outcomes of babies and young children.  We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Sons of the West and advocating for dads and men in the west.

Visit the Sons of the West website for more information about the men's health program

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