Thoughtful Parenting: The power of empathy |

Thoughtful Parenting: The power of empathy

Tom Valand/For Steamboat Today

Thoughtful parenting youth

The role of fathers continues to transform, as norms in our society shift and change. Gone are the days when dad was considered a helper to mom, without equal parenting responsibilities and rights. Expectations for dads are higher than ever, but the fathering tools and skills passed down from previous generations can leave today's fathers ill prepared for the task at hand.

As men, we pride ourselves as problem solvers. Changing a flat car tire, providing advice to our children about bullying or fixing things for family or friends helps us feel useful. Unfortunately, the advice we proudly offer to those we love isn't always met with the level of gratitude we expect.

The advice offered with the best of intentions somehow falls flat for those we want to help the most. Often, this is because our loved ones are initially seeking empathy and understanding and not necessarily solutions to the problem at hand. By validating their feelings, we show them we understand how they hurt. By doing so, we empower them to develop their own solutions to the issues they face.

I recommend viewing the short video "It's Not About the Nail," which captures both sides of this all-too-common problem in a way that’s funny, but accurate.

As fathers, it can be tough to receive support, even it comes from sources we trust, whether it is our family members, friends or those in the faith community.

The Fatherhood Program of Routt County has been working with dads and their families in our community since 2014. Specifically, the FPRC exists to improve the ability of area dads to positively impact their children's lives by increasing their support network, providing tools and creating bonding opportunities for them and their families. This summer, the FPRC will hold it's next installment of the Nurturing Fathers Program, a class designed to teach parenting and nurturing skills to men. A number of topics will be covered in the class, including the following.

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• How our experiences shape us.

• Disciplining without violence.

• Teamwork with spouse or partner.

• Fathering sons and rathering daughters.

• Communication and problem solving.

This free program will kick off June 6 and occur every Tuesday through Aug. 29 at Soroco High school in Oak Creek. To ease the burden on attendees and their families, dinner and childcare will be provided at each session. We invite you to join us, meet other dads from the community and build upon your knowledge base as a father to keep up with the ever changing needs of your family.

For more information or to RSVP for the Nurturing Fathers Program, contact Tom Valand at or 970-875-4229.

He will also be hosting a parenting workshop specifically about the power of empathy from noon to 1 p.m. May 17 in the Commissioner's Hearing Room at the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat. To RSVP for this free event, call 970-870-5270 or email

Finally, to learn more about the FPRC and its programming and/or take in some parenting tips, visit