In the wake of Father’s Day, I am thinking about parenting and all that it takes and gives. I have always thought it strange that there is no training required to become a parent. In order to be allowed to practice most professions or activities, you have to take classes or go through varying degrees of education. Subsequently, you often then take a comprehensive test, and if you pass, only then are you allowed to do things like drive a car, be a nurse, work with electricity, etc. But to perform arguably one of the most important things people do – raise other little humans – you are not required to undergo any education or pass any test. There are no prerequisites for becoming a parent, no mandatory course requirements or examinations.

In the absence of a formal training ground, informal networks exist. And these play a critical role. One such informational and supportive group here in Santa Cruz is Luma’s Monthly Class for Fathers, designed to help prepare and educate men in the process of becoming parents.

The journey into fatherhood is a complicated one, which makes it all the more important that we grant ourselves permission to share experiences, fears, questions, and expertise. Every one of us has no doubt been exposed to flawed models of how to parent, and being a dad is not necessarily an easy or intuitive job. Parenting is not something that can be done perfectly, and each of us can learn something from a group dialogue about how guide and nurture our kids in as conscious a way as possible.

Fathers in all stages of parenting are welcome at our Monthly Class for Fathers, including fathers-to-be. Not only do expecting dads have more time and energy, they also often want information about what to expect in their new role and how best they can meet the challenges that await them. Fathers of infants and toddlers have also found our group to be very useful, because the group acts as a resource to address the increasing complexities of parenting that arise as children grow older. I have found that the dads who are beyond the earliest stages of fatherhood deeply enrich the group dialogue with their developing knowledge of parenting and impart a feeling of welcome camaraderie.

Please join us for the next Monthly Class for Fathers on Monday, July 11 from 7 – 8:30pm at Luma. In an effort to make the group as accessible as possible to the Santa Cruz community, our July class will be FREE. Consider this a late Father’s Day gift to yourself: an opportunity to slow down, connect with other dads, and gain some insight into one of the most important jobs we’ll ever do.