Read about Dominic’s experience of the SFSC: Stronger Relationships online programme. Dominic sought ways to improve family dynamics and found valuable conflict resolution strategies. His story illuminates how the SFSC: Stronger Relationships online programme positively impacted his relationships, making it a must-read for all parents seeking to enhance family connections. Discover Dominic’s journey and how this course could benefit you and your family.
What motivated you to participate in the SFSC: Stronger Relationships programme?
I had a couple of instances of conflict at home and thought there’s got to be a better resolution to this. I needed more knowledge about how to counteract or how to reduce conflict in the household.
Can you share your initial thoughts or reservations before joining the SFSC:Stronger Relationships online programme?
My initial thoughts were all positive. I joined the course at a stage in my relationship where I needed to look at other ways of thinking. I had already been entrenched in my own thoughts about how conflict affects my partner and children. I was ready to think about my thought patterns, what I say or don’t communicate and what I shouldn’t say.
I didn’t have any reservations because I’m used to discussing various topics and prefer exploring different perspectives rather than focusing solely on myself. This insight isn’t just about me but encompasses a holistic understanding of family dynamics as a whole.
The impact of certain traumas extended beyond me and likely affected my parenting and relationships with my partner.
What are your most valuable learnings or insights?
There were multiple strategies and techniques that I learned during the course, which when applied has made for a better amicable relationship. Sometimes I like to mitigate the risk. Instead of having conflict with my partner, I often walk away from the situation. I realised walking away from the situation may be good for me but it is not good for my partner. I need to say I don’t want to talk about it now, we can talk about it another time, rather than just walking away from situations which can be seen as disrespectful.
What did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed the group discussions because they realigned some of my thoughts. I realised that I’m not a bad parent or a bad partner. There was a couple who were just about to have a baby. A woman who would find it hard to engage with an ex-husband. A guy who found it hard to engage with the mother of his preteen child.
Everyone was quite open about what they were going through, talking through their experiences and what techniques they used. It was 10 times the amount of learning. I learned so much, so quickly.
Were there any challenges you faced while participating in the group?
I think mixing the modules and homework with work, looking after kids or school activities, having time for yourself, trying to do exercise, talking to your partner about what was happening to kids and other elements of life was tricky. But the course homework is very beneficial.
Has completing the SFSC: Stronger Relationships Programme impacted your relationship with your co parent and has it changed your co parenting dynamics?
I’m more appreciative of my partner. I will say thank you and praise more often, which is one of the techniques we learnt. I’m saying thank you for making a meal, making a cup of tea. The course made me think we can take things for granted. I think communication is key.
I’m working on being more communicative and proactive in addressing issues early on. We prioritise understanding the dynamics at play. While we’re doing well as parents, aspects in our relationship might need some fine-tuning. I’m consciously patient and reflective, often thinking before speaking. Sometimes, I suggest discussing matters at a more suitable time when situations arise.
Has the programme done anything to help you understand your co-parent’s behaviour?
Yes. I understand the trauma my partner may have gone through as well as my own and it has brought to the front. The course has made me think more about how I’ve been affected and how it may have affected my partner. It’s made me more pragmatic and understanding, I’m now thinking things through.
What strategies or approaches can be effective in encouraging more black fathers to engage in our programme?
More testimonials from fathers who’ve completed the course would be good. It’d be great to have these testimonials shared in active forums, whether it’s discussions about relationships, social gatherings, or even in football circles. You should target areas where Black fathers are prevalent like the barbers, there’s a strong social grouping where these discussions thrive.
It’s about creating a ‘Black touch,’ resonating within our community. I’ve recommended the SFSC: Stronger Relationships programme to new fathers and couples. It’s also about word of mouth in the right spaces—where these discussions naturally happen.
Were there any specific elements within the programme or activities that resonated with you as a black father and made your experience more relatable?
There’s a module where we learnt about interdependency. My partner and I have a very close circle and we’re too reliant on each to look after the kids. The course has encouraged me to have a conversation with my partner about us needing to trust other people in our circle.
We’re also making time for ourselves, together as partners. Because we are so reliant on each other with the kids it’s left no time for us. I now think differently, I think about who else can support our children and engage with them. The kids are big enough now and can tell us if they have an issue with someone.
How would you encourage a father who is hesitant about joining the programme?
If you want to be the best parent for yourself and your partner then this is the course to go on, it’s as simple as that. It will open up so many areas which can be a pain point for yourself but you move forward.
There’s so many areas that you may not have thought of in terms of how you support yourself, how to support your children. Like how you’re affected by your traumas, things that have happened in the past that affect your relationship now. It’s this really holistic way of looking at how you could improve yourself and the relationship with your co-parent and children.
The course has encouraged me to have a conversation with my partner about us needing to trust other people in our circle.
Do you believe there are common misconceptions or barriers that might deter fathers from enrolling in SFSC: Stronger Relationships programme?
I think the common misconception is that black men don’t talk! That’s a myth. I’ll give an example: If I’m coming to somewhere where I feel safe, with people who don’t know me too well, then I can disclose what’s going on in my life.
Men often struggle to open up, fearing judgement or future consequences. It’s like a door—you want it open enough for support to come in, but not too wide to risk exposure. That’s where trust matters. SFSC: Stronger Relationships provides a safe space for men to open up comfortably. It’s about finding that balance—to share enough whilst ensuring confidentiality. It’s crucial to strike that balance, not too distant but not too close, facilitating a safe environment for growth and empowerment.
How can we better tailor SFSC: Stronger Relationships to address the unique needs and concerns of black fathers, making it more appealing to them?
Having a champion within different organisations championing what you guys are doing. I think you’d get a bigger pull. Someone who is reliable and recognisable going out and speaking to our community.
Thank you Dominic. Have you got anything else you’d like to add?
I would say SFSC: Stronger Relationships is as effective as having the Bupa Talking therapy. If not, it’s more effective. I’ve used these services, had my own therapy and SFSC: Stronger was just as effective. It was about me being a black father and a black partner.