How Do I Choose the Best Fathers' Support Group?

Lainie Petersen

If you are interested in joining a fathers’ support group, you should consider your circumstances and begin researching groups that are open to fathers in situations similar to your own. You should also consider the way a group is organized and the qualifications of its leadership. Some groups are religiously affiliated, so you may wish to clarify the importance of a religious or spiritual belief system in a group’s operations. Finally, logistics can be an important factor for many people who are interested in joining a support group. Look for a fathers’ support group that meets at a time and place that is convenient for you and that charges affordable fees.

A stay-at-home dad may want to join a father's support group.
A stay-at-home dad may want to join a father's support group.

Think about your reasons for wanting to participate in a fathers’ support group. For example, you may be a stay-at-home dad, a recently divorced father, or a father of a child with special needs. If you need support due to particular circumstances, you may wish to seek out a support group that addresses these issues. Talk to the leader or contact person of any group you consider in order to determine whether the group is appropriate for someone in your situation. On the other hand, you may simply be a dad who wants support and guidance while parenting his children. In such cases, you may wish to look for a general fathers’ support group that exists primarily to provide mentoring and education to fathers.

Some fathers simply need guidance in parenting their children.
Some fathers simply need guidance in parenting their children.

Ask about the facilitation and leadership of any fathers’ support group that you consider. For example, a mental health professional, an educator, or a member of the clergy may lead a group. If the group deals with issues of child custody, a lawyer, divorce mediator, or child custody consultant may provide the group with leadership. In other cases, a father's support group may not have a professional facilitator but may be led by other fathers who have no mental health, child development, or legal qualifications. Both types of support groups can be valuable, though you may find that you prefer one type of group over another.

Take your schedule, responsibilities, and budget into consideration when choosing a support group. If you have significant professional and family responsibilities, an online father’s support group can be an easy way of receiving support without trying to fit an in-person meeting into an already busy schedule. Be sure to ask group leaders about fees and find out if members are expected to make a financial contribution to the group.

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