Not the fatherhood your mother knew

By Rhia Perkins

Just in time for Father’s Day, the University of Calgary will host Fatherhood: Past, Present and Future, the Men’s Conference Association of Calgary’s 2001 event.

The conference, taking place June 15-16, allows all Calgarians–not just fathers–to explore the role of fatherhood.

"In society, we’ve focussed a great deal on the mother and child relationship, and ignored the role of the father," said MCAC President Warren Redman. "With the Fatherhood conference, we’re taking the opportunity to explore, examine and appreciate the differences between motherhood and fatherhood."

Two workshops are highlighted: Fatherhood Past, where participants can examine their relationships with their own fathers and Fatherhood Present, which focuses on current trends in parenting and individual parenting experiences.

"I think it’s an excellent initiative, especially around Father’s Day," said Associate Vice-President Student Affairs Peggy Patterson. "It’s a very positive concept and I hope it’s going to be a very successful conference."

Keynote speakers Dr. Warren Farrell and Dr. Kyle Pruett, two of the world’s foremost experts on
father-child relationships will also bring important perspectives to the conference.

"Dr. Farrell’s latest book is the product of 13 years of research and exploration" explained Redman. "He’ll spend time talking with people helping them explore their own conceptions, and misconceptions."

Dr. Pruett, who also spent years analyzing the child-father relationship, will concentrate on parenting differences between mothers and fathers.

"His focus really has been, significantly and exceptionally, on the child-father relationship," said Redman. "His most recent book, Father Need, describes a lot of his own observations."

Redman explained that the tendency to ignore fatherhood despite its increasing societal importance is partly due to well-established traditions.

"Men over the years have tended to be the hunter-gatherers while the women look after the children," he said. "While there are a lot of new ways in the family these days, these [new ways] are not the norm."

The Faculty of Social Work is a strong supporter of the conference.

"It’s an opportunity to have speakers and be involved in dialogue and debate, which is something the faculty likes to support," said Dean Gayla Rogers.

Patterson stressed the importance of the issues addressed by the conference.

"From a student perspective I think it’s a really positive thing, to have the discussion of fatherhood within the context of the family, and in a context of supporting the mother and child and their development," she said.

Redman extended an invitation to participate to all Calgarians.

"We’ve got a range of people registered, with about 25 per cent women attending. It’s open to anyone who ever had a dad, which is all of us, really."

Registration for the conference costs $200 and subsidies may be provided by the MCAC to individuals who cannot afford the entire cost on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information is available at <<>> or by calling 245-5463 or 547-8950.

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