UAE News Today : Breaking News

UAE: These community groups bring parents together to meet up and do fun activities with kids – News


Some members of Dubai Irish Dads

Published: Thursday April 11, 2024, 6:30 am

A few months ago, a health specialist gave Dave Griffin news that hit him like ‘a ton of bricks.’ “They told me there’s a chance he has breast cancer,” he recalls as we talk. One of the first people he broke the news to was Billy Garnon, the manager of the Dubai Irish Dads group. “The kind of support he gave me right away was incredible,” he recalls.

In fact, Billy was one of the first people Dave befriended when he moved to the UAE from the UK over a year ago. Dave had just become a stay-at-home dad after working full-time in the UK, and the transition was difficult. But Billy, Dave says, encouraged him to come for coffee and a chat once a week. “I used to leave feeling very good and positive,” recalls Dave, who now runs his own construction business. As a member of the group he has actively participated in many of its activities.

When the other parents heard the news about Dave, they joined the family; one of them, who is a life coach, even offered to meet him every week at Starbucks, just to talk. Fortunately, further medical tests revealed that he did not have cancer and his doctor gave him the all-clear. “Even though I was worried, I remember never being afraid to talk about it because I knew the kind of response I would get from the group,” Dave says.

Dave Griffin with these kids

Dave Griffin with these kids

Unlike mom groups, dad groups are still rare today. However, some groups in the UAE, started by and for parents, provide a platform for members to connect with each other through activities such as regular meetups, expert talks, and fun activities with their children. Dubai Irish Dads, for example, which started in 2022, has organized community activities such as “family days, parent-child outings, sporting events and now an annual Dad of the Year awards night,” says Billy.

A new platform for dads

Oliver Mohsen-Taheri, 36, moved to Dubai from London with his wife, Rebecca, and three-year-old son, Rumi, in 2022. He runs an international property investment company and his work brought him to the city. Most of his friends and family, including his parents, reside in the United Kingdom.

The couple is lucky to have jobs with flexible hours and can handle childcare, but Oliver realized that other parents in a similar situation can feel isolated and alone. “That’s why I started The Dad Network DXB,” he says. “I felt like I needed to create a community for dads because men don’t talk about their problems as much as they should and dads sometimes find it difficult. “I wanted to create a safe space where dads could feel supported, have a shoulder to cry on, or have someone to put their arm around them and say, ‘Well done, you’re doing a great job!’”

He also wants to help parents “level up” by passing on certain basic life skills to their children, such as how to maintain a car, skills that he believes are rapidly disappearing because they are no longer passed down from generation to generation. “I don’t think the world is going to be an easy place for our children to live in the next 20, 30, 40 years, so we need to equip them with as many tools as possible to survive and thrive.”

The group made their Instagram debut last month and had their first meeting at Night Jar in Al Quoz on March 26, where “half a dozen dads” showed up. Perhaps the anonymity is comforting because, although none of them knew each other, Oliver says the group talked about their life situations, overcoming challenges and evolving relationships with their partners. “These relationships change when children are born, not in a bad way, but it adds pressure to the relationship and there was a lot of discussion about how people operate differently as a couple.”

Oliver Taheri with his son

Oliver Taheri with his son

Encouraged by the group’s feedback at the meeting, Oliver has big plans in store: weekly meetings with members, monthly workshops with guest speakers on everything from parenting, health and wellness to budget management, basic DIY and cooking skills, and Days fun with kids. “We’ve already launched a Substack,” he says. “We are looking to build a website and set up a WhatsApp group for dads. It’s still early, so we’ll treat it very organically and develop it depending on feedback from parents.”

Foster deep male friendships

Chris Bradwell founded British Dads Dubai almost 10 years ago, but the group’s monthly breakfast meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at Arabian Ranches are a fairly new ritual. As we speak, we are days away from the group’s tenth reunion breakfast. “It’s something very informal, where parents sit, have breakfast and talk if they want,” he says.

He started the group when he was a father and felt alone. “I had a very large group of friends at home and we spent a lot of time together. “I didn’t really know anyone in Dubai and I was alone the whole time.” Although he tried to join some mom groups, he just didn’t fit in and his wife suggested he start a dad group. “But I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t know if anyone would join.”

Today, Bradwell says, the group has about 8,000 members and has organized parents’ nights out, contests, soccer games and overnight camps for parents and their children. One parent, he says, compared the experience of being in the group to visiting the local pub full of familiar faces from home. “It’s a proper community where we all look out for each other.”

Vip Patel started the Dubai Dads blog in 2016. “I had just had my first daughter and there were no blogs or information about fun things you could do with your daughter, but things have changed now.” Vip was able to meet other dads at swimming and prenatal classes, and through activities posted on the Meetup app, in part thanks to her flexible schedule. “But other parents, juggling demanding work and family, can feel alone,” she says. Vip meets up with friends on weekends to go out and play, where they talk about everything from sports to parenting. “It’s good to have an outlet to vent. It is also helpful to know that there are other people facing the same problems as you and that you are not alone,” says Vip, who suggests places like Legoland, trampoline parks, Adventure Zone and neighborhood parks for perfect days with the kids.

Vip Patel with his children

Vip Patel with his children

A Bonding Class for Dads and Babies

When Rahul Janani’s daughter was born, the Dubai resident wanted to attend an in-person class that would help him bond with his baby and also meet other dads. “My son was born during the pandemic, so we were not able to attend any in-person courses or classes. Everyone was online,” he explains. At the suggestion of his wife, he enrolled in Father Bonding classes from maternity care service British Care, which are led by certified infant massage instructor and birth doula, Louise Atkinson.

“Before, the course only included baby massages. But now it is also an open space, like a therapy group, where fathers can talk about the challenges of being a father, the heights of fatherhood and the evolution of their relationships as a father,” explains Louise. “There are many groups of this type for moms, but not for dads.”

Janani attended the class in February this year at Gargash Hospital. “It was a great bonding experience with my baby – she enjoyed the massage and I felt a deeper connection with her from such a young age,” she says. She also got along well with the other parent in the class: they both had similar professions and similar ages. “It was nice to hear her experiences,” she says.

“It felt good to be able to share my experiences with him and the women who led the class. “Also, it was good to talk about how lonely and challenging it can be, both from a physical and emotional perspective, as a modern father who is committed and involved in fatherhood and also juggling these responsibilities with a career.”

“It is important to my wife and I that we share parenting responsibilities as much as possible, and in doing so, I have realized that society often forgets fathers in the process of early parenthood,” he continues. “I wish there were more classes like this for parents.”



UAE News Today :

UAE News Today : Latest UAE News, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah & Middle East News : Get the latest updates & breaking headlines news from across the UAE including Dubai and Abu Dhabi UAE. Get the latest update on UAE, business, life style, UAE jobs, gold rate, Exchange rate, UAE holidays, Dubai police, RTA and prayer times from UAE's largest news.

Related Articles

Back to top button