Father’s Day Edition: 2 Dads Share Why they Support their Child’s Mentors
Sometimes when parents sign their child up for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Fathers are often confused about their role in the mentoring relationship. They may wonder what this other person will bring to the table that he cannot provide. As the program requires consent from all involved guardians, sometimes this misunderstanding prevents a child from moving forward in the matching process. In this blog post today, as a tribute to all the Fathers, we wanted to delve deeper into a Father’s role in the mentoring relationship and get two perspectives from other Dads who have lead by example. We hope their outlook can ease any other wary Fathers in the future, and wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day!
“It gives my son another set of ears to talk about things with.”
This is Chris Ocnean’s first year involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. His nine-year-old son Calin has been matched with his Big, Joe, for just about a year now and for Chris, Calin, and Joe, it has been an overall positive experience.
“Calin is very happy with Joe,” Ocnean says. “He’s such a good guy and Calin can definitely learn from him. I talk to him a lot about their plans like what things are coming up in terms of events and what more they can do together.”
When it comes to activities, one event they all love to do is attend Calin’s Little League baseball games and practices. “I pretty much need to know exactly what my son is doing at all times, so we are constantly talking about things coming up. When we were talking one day, we mentioned that Calin had a game coming up, so Joe decided to come and help coach.”
For Chris, the key to this successful relationship is communication. If he were to give advice to parents who are new to the program, he would recommend that they talk through activities with the Big as much as possible. “We find it very helpful to plan some of the events for Joe and Calin, so Big Brothers Big Sisters doesn’t have full responsibility for that,” Ocnean says. “So if the parents have something lined up, it’s a big help. It really should be a relationship between everyone—parents included.”
Talking frequently with his son’s Big also benefits Chris’ role as a father. “Joe gives Calin another set of ears to talk about things that maybe, for whatever reason, he might not be comfortable to share at home, and I get to know my son better because of it,” he says. “It gives kids someone they are close to share their thoughts and concerns.”
“One thing I can’t give my children is someone else’s perspective.”
John Chivers and his three children—Johnathon, Charlotte, and Josephine—live in Edgartown, Ma. and have been participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands for longer than John can remember. As a single father, John works a lot of hours to support his children and laments his inability to spend as much time with them. John therefore wholeheartedly supports Big Brothers Big Sisters because it has given his kids someone to have fun with during such a busy time in his life.
“What’s nice about mentors is that it’s a friendship,” Chivers says. “It’s not about parenting, but rather a place where both parties can enjoy a friend’s company.”
Over the years, John’s children have enjoyed several different outings with their Bigs. Some of their favorite things to do are artwork, biking, beach walks, and baking. “They especially love eating out,” John adds with enthusiasm.
With his two daughters currently matched and son in the process of being re-matched, John has done a lot of reflection on the benefits BBBS has presented both him and his children. “The one thing I can’t give my children is someone else’s perspective, and that is what I value the most about the program,” he says. “It’s huge for them to have mentors who are enlightening them in ways I am not able to.”
Two tips John has for parents who are new to the program are to be patient with the matching process and to elaborate on their children’s personalities. “Don’t become frustrated if it takes a long time to find a match because a lot goes into it and it will take time to find the perfect person for your child,” he says. “Also try to think about what your child likes and doesn’t like so the Bigs can have a better idea of whether or not your child would be a good personality match.”
In light of the Father’s Day spirit, both of these dads show the importance of parental support and engagement going into the program. With that support comes many benefits for both parents and children, as Chris and John’s stories so delightfully illustrate. Want to learn more about enrolling your child?