By Brian Lewis, PEP Dads Programming
Many years ago, my head got stuck between the uprights of a stair railing outside our Silver Spring apartment. A neighbor found me, head on one side, body on the other, calmly considering how to break free. Neighbors joined. They worried I might remain stuck. Something needed to be done. Quickly.
As I was three years old, my head was about twice the width between uprights. They tugged, but couldn’t squeeze me through the rails. Someone saw this as a logical opportunity to grease my head with Crisco.
Enter my mother. She sees the crowd. She sees the Crisco. I imagine her thinking “What is Brian doing (in front of all our neighbors)?!?”
Before getting too deep into questions from the 1960’s let’s address the very good question: “Why won’t my husband attend a PEP class?”
It seems odd. Your husband aims for greatness. He wants to be a great Dad. He puts in the time. He shares kid care. Even your parents say: “My goodness, Dads never did all that when we raised you.” So why won’t your husband attend a PEP class?
One possibility: No idea. Surely the number one reason anyone won’t take PEP classes is that they have never heard of them. I don’t mean undervaluing PEP. I mean having no idea that PEP classes exist. How can you expect someone to take a class they have never heard of?
Another possibility: If you tell your husband to take a parenting class you are guaranteed he will NOT take it. Moms would judge his parenting. Ick! And definitely no sitting in a classroom after work during “me” time! But the big one is: no parenting class knows our kids. “Don’t tell me how to raise our kids if you don’t even know them!”
If you repeat these words over and over, they begin to sound sensible.
But they aren’t. You have taken a PEP class and found it helpful. So what can you do? As PEP advises, never tell someone to do something unless you want a power struggle.
Luckily, you have many allies. Since 2015 we’ve offered original programming for dads that speaks directly to dads. Plain English, foul language and beer are plentiful; all workshops are scheduled for a restaurant or bar. This is our formula. Workshops on anger management for dads, how to handle power struggles for dads. It goes on.
Dads come out in force for these evening programs, initially out of curiosity or referral. They like them and return for more, including regular classes and dads’ programs. They want parenting solutions different than how they were raised. They want to avoid hitting and yelling but lack ideas and tools to replace the ones they disliked as kids. They want to become unstuck.
The attendees love their kids, so they are highly motivated learners. To these dads’ surprise, they find that their big challenges are the same that all parents face. And that is how PEP has been of value addressing the fundamental challenges with classic positive parenting solutions over the last many years.
So you cannot make your husband take a PEP class. Stuck? No. Dads recommend the programs to other dads. Somehow dads hear about these programs. Many dads attend these days. Perhaps leaving your computer browser open to PEP’s upcoming offerings or printing and posting the schedule for upcoming dads programs in your home will plant ideas in your husband’s mind without forcing the issue.
We all need tips, tools and encouragement because parenting is really challenging. When I was three, I had no idea how challenging this would be.
But I got unstuck. I simply walked my stick thin body back and out through the railing. Forcing (and Crisco) wouldn’t work. I did it myself in one step. I hope your husband finds a similar step – without forcing or pushing – to PEP.