The Herald Bulletin

June 7, 2014

'Just Dad' to help families

Conference to help fathers strengthen relationships

By Kelly Dickey The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Creating memories wasn’t enough. Arrow Heights Community Church of God Pastor Michael Thigpen wanted to create a better life for fathers and their families.

So after two years of organizing a father/daughter dance, Thigpen said it was time to add opportunities for fathers to learn.

“Basically, we felt unfulfilled,” Thigpen said. “We knew we were giving them a great opportunity for their daughters, but are we really making impacts or just a memory?

“We don’t want to be a memory; we want to be a resource.”

The Just Dad conference is a two-day event for fathers to learn about making their families stronger, while also having the opportunity to do something special with their kids. Arrow Heights Community Church is renting space at Madison Park Church of God, 6607 Providence Drive, for the event.

On Friday, attendees will have the opportunity to have a family meal while talking about best practices for dads and father figures. The evening will end with a panel discussion, “Fathering in the Grey Zone,” hosted by Leroy Quashie, an associate professor of family science at Anderson Unviersity.

Thigpen, the conference host, said the panel will feature different types of fathers, including single dads, blended family dads, traditional fathers, men who are raising children who aren’t biologically theirs and being a father to adult children.

The conference will continue with a father and son breakfast Saturday with team building activities and workshops. A free health screening will also be available.

A “Daddy and Daughter” supper and dance will end the night.

Administrator Juanita Taylor said the entire conference costs $50, but if fathers want to only participate in certain activities, they can pay per event. The Friday night panel costs $10, the breakfast and morning session cost $15 and the father/daughter event costs $35.

Taylor said fathers should take advantage of the entire weekend so they can build stronger relationships with their families.

“There are so many fathers out there who want to be good fathers and are doing the best they can with the tools they have,” she said. “I think it’s important to increase that arsenal and that we give men more to work with.”

The conference is about helping different models of parenting. Taylor said there are various types of families. Sometimes dads didn’t have an example of how to handle certain family dynamics when they were growing up.

Some elements of the conference are faith-based, Thigpen said, but they’re still universally based. Even if someone isn’t a Christian, there are Christian elements to being a parent.

“You have to have faith to father,” he said. “You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to get things wrong. There’s a redemption factor for fathers.”

Thigpen said members of his congregation, people from other churches and non-Christians have attended the dance in the past, and they’re all more than welcome to the conference.

Scholarships are also available for fathers who may not be able to afford to attend, Thigpen said.

The conference is about empowerment, encouragement and elevating spirits, he added.

“It’s about honoring dads,” he said. “We have a lot of good dads that go unrecognized.”

To register or apply for a scholarship, go to justdad.org. Registration should be completed by Wednesday, but walk-ins to events are welcomed if space is available.

Like Kelly Dickey on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KellyD_THB, or call 640-4805.