From Lads To Dads to build positive parenting

By Mary Dennehy

A TALLAGHT father is behind a new community-based support group for young dads, which hopes to move past negative stereotypes, helping to create positive pathways into parenthood.

When Dave Saunders learned at the age of 17 that he was to become a father, panic and self-doubt kicked in.

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Dave with his mam Carmel and dad Tony at the launch of From Lads To Dads

It was some 27 years ago when Dave, who was in fifth year at the time, was set to become a dad to a baby girl called Sophie – and he has invested that experience into the creation of a new support group called From Lads To Dads (FLTD).

Looking back, Dave, who lives in Tallaght Village, said: “I spiralled into self-doubt when I heard, I just kept thinking that I wasn’t good enough to be a parent that I didn’t have the skill set . . . I panicked.

“I did try to reach out but I got hit with negativity and was told that I wouldn’t be able to go to college, I’d never be able to go out again.

“It’s tough enough as it is without people hitting you with this negativity and I struggled massively until I eventually opened up to my family.

“I remember my parents just putting their arms around me and saying ‘we’re here, we’ve got you, we’re going to support you through this’.

“I was very lucky, and had support from both families.

“This helped me to believe in myself a little bit more.

“I was still petrified, but I started to become more confident in myself that I could be a good father.”

From his own experience and from speaking with other young fathers, Dave believes that there is a lack of supports for soon-to-be or new dads.

“There is nothing out there [for young dads]”, Dave said.

“It can be a very confusing and scary time, as there are so many unanswered questions and no support structures in place to help with this.

“[Through Lads To Dads] we aim to alleviate any anxiety or fear and move past negative stereotypes towards a greater understanding of the unique challenges facing young fathers.

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Dave with his daughter Sophie

“We hope the group will help them begin their positive parenting journey and become active role models in the lives of their children.”

From Lads To Dads is run by a committee, which includes Dave’s daughter Sophie, who is now 27.

Based in the Dominic’s Community Centre in Tallaght, the support group is affiliated with Treoir, a free, confidential service for unmarried parents living together or apart, and their extended families.

The support group is also working with a host of organisations such as the Coombe, CDI, An Cosan, Youth Reach Tallaght, TU Dublin- Tallaght campus and Deansrath Family Centre.

Dave will facilitate the weekly meetings but hopes that those attending will take ownership and steer and grow From Lads To Dads into the future – tailoring the group to their needs.

Dave, who also has a 19-year-old son Aaron, hopes that the group will support young dads to talk about all aspects of parenthood and “feel acceptance and support” at this “unsettling and often exciting” time in their young lives.

Alongside peer-to-peer support, the development of a mentor programme is also on the cards alongside the introduction of various programmes on, for example, nutrition, stages of pregnancy, antenatal classes and tips on how to deal with the stresses of being a parent.

Dave believes that supporting young dads in a positive way can have positive generational benefits for the whole family.

From Lads To Dads was officially launched last week in Dominic’s Community Centre.

Anybody interested in being part of the group is encouraged to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit the From Lads to Dads Facebook page or call 085 1835953.

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