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“Dad’s Workshop” in wartime conditions

The number of children, which have to grow up without a father, with the start of a full-scale war in Ukraine, unfortunately, is rapidly increasing every day. This problem currently makes worry many people in our society, as everyone seems to be aware that the absence of a father in the family has a very negative psychological effect on children.

Prewar family statistics are also unpleasantly impressive. According to them, more than 60% of marriages in Ukraine broke up. Of the broken marriages, 62% occurred in young families, mainly in the period from 3 months to 1.5 years of family life. The first reason for divorce in Ukraine was alcoholism, the second was money problems, and the third was adultery. At that time, half of adult Ukrainian men had experience of earning abroad, and every fifth adult man was permanently worked in another country, leaving the child to be raised by the mother. As a consequence of all the above, half of the children in Ukraine grew up without attention from the biological father. Every third child was raised by a stepfather, and 16% of children were in single-parent families with only their mother. Today, this problem has increased, which, let’s be honest, can’t help but scare.

If we talk about the main reasons why Ukrainian dads so often decide to leave their families (we are not talking about our defenders, who heroically fight at the front), then it is mostly lack of awareness and an irresponsible attitude towards one’s own role, as husband and father, and his influence on the entire future life of the child. The lack of parental care can destroy the life of both a girl and a boy, because growing up, they do not have the opportunity to see an example of who a man really is, what are the characteristics of his behavior and what are his social responsibilities. It settles confusion in the hearts of children and often pushes them to make fatal mistakes and psychological self-destruction. From an early age, such children often show themselves not in the best way in kindergarten and school, causing concern for teachers and mothers. Of course, the appearance of a stepfather is often able to improve the internal state of the child, but this is certainly possible if the man himself behaves wisely and is able to establish high-quality emotional contact.

This state of affairs in Ukraine causes increasing concern among psychologists, social workers and other ordinary citizens. Various volunteer organizations or individual activists in wartime began to pay much more attention to this problem, working both with the children, who were left without a father (including children, who lost dads because of the war), and with adults. And such a trend and activity in this direction definitely gives hope.

The International Fatherhood Center, in its turn, despite the military situation, decided to resume classes of the Father’s Workshop, which is aimed at working with children growing up without a father. The specificity of the group is work with boys and their mothers, who raise their sons on their own.

Oleksandr Chaptsev, volunteer-participant of the Dad’s Workshop project

The Dad’s Workshop aims to involve children who, for various reasons, do not have contact with their fathers (including the fact that some parents are currently at the front). Therefore, we attract to the workshop mainly boys from 7 to 12 years old who currently live without a father.

Mainly, in Dad’s workshop, we men try to instill in boys the skills of tinkering (mostly we make things from wood, but not only). However, the best thing, of course, is that all the products we make together can then be used in everyday life. So, for example, we made a bench and bird feeder for winter, we also made a stand for dishes. The most important thing is that children usually love to be included in this crafting process.

The most important thing for us, as adults, is to establish quality contact with children and to correctly direct the flow of their thoughts. Guys receive from us tasks, visualization and images of dimensions, so they can work step by step. And so the children begin to measure, then mark, cut, combine the parts with each other and in this way, they have so much fun that they don’t even notice how quickly time flies.

In general, the children’s reaction to everything that happens in the workshop is mostly positive. Some more diligently and conscientiously do the tasks that we announce, and some begin to improvise a little. However, children are fascinated, first of all, by the process itself. Sometimes they can ask something if something is not working out for them, and we just gently help them. And the most interesting, of course, are children’s emotions after the product is already made. They feel 99% positive because they see that this is their own creation, made by their own hands.

At the end, we usually take a photo by heart. We also teach the boys to be tidy and to clean. That is, after we dusted, cut, littered something with them, we involve them in cleaning and remind them that all tools should be in their places. In this way, we show the boys that we have to be real masters from start to the end. In any case, the main thing is that I can see in the boys’ eyes that they like it.

Andriy Fedorov, volunteer-participant of the Dad’s Workshop project

Dad’s Workshop is a project of the International Fatherhood Center together with the “New Life” church, aimed at families in which mothers raise their sons without a father. Men, by giving male attention and communication to boys, show them a man’s way of dealing with various types of work during tinkering together. Through communication, we help boys assert themselves as individuals. Meanwhile, mothers have the opportunity to communicate on their female topics. Male volunteers are also happy to be able to be themselves and remember their childhood hobbies.

In general, the main goal of the workshop is to make the boys aware of the model of a man who cares, teaches and leads on, so to speak, an exciting journey. Also, our workshop demonstrates to women (mothers) that despite their possible personal disappointments in men, there are still men who can be a positive example.

Yevhen Tumanov, volunteer-participant of the Dad’s Workshop project

The Dad’s Workshop project is a space for communication with children, as well as an opportunity for them to spend time together with adult men and feel the help that all little ones so need. The tasks that we do together are sometimes difficult, and then having an adult nearby helps the child not to be afraid of difficult tasks, but to feel that together they can do it.

The purpose of the Workshop is a very multifaceted service and, first of all, it is the education of children growing up without a father and the establishment of friendly relations with them. This happens through training them to work, craft, use various tools, and so on.

A workshop for children is both learning and entertainment at the same time. It is also a good thing that they work as a team and look out for each other. This stimulates them to try to show that they are no longer small and can work like grown boys.

In the end, they are always satisfied. I see that children are interested in working with different materials and getting different experiences. When we say goodbye, and I see their satisfied smiles every time, I understand that this day was not in vain for them. Children are always very grateful for the lesson, and so are mothers.

Viktoriya Bilyakova, mother of a boy who attends the workshop

We found out about Father’s Workshop thanks to some charitable foundation, but unfortunately I don’t remember its name. Someone gave me contacts. Since my husband and I separated, and I was left alone with my son, the child really lacked the male attention and skills that only a father can give. So I gladly took this opportunity.

We started going to the workshop, where we immediately felt very warm and friendly atmosphere. The child quickly came into contact with the men who taught him. Moms and I started having tea together while our sons were studying, and everyone got to know each other. Then a female psychologist began to come to us, with whom we analyzed various life situations and passed tests. Recently, a girl who taught pilates and facial massages worked with us too. That is, mothers there are also very interested. We are always looking forward to a new activity in order to be distracted, inspired and have a good time.

My son and I have been attending the workshop for the second year in total. He liked the workshop from the very first session, so he was looking forward to the next one.

We usually do not take anything with us to the workshop. We are provided with all the necessary materials there. We are very grateful for that. A big thanks to whoever created this class for children who don’t have dads. This is a priceless class and a priceless experience. The son learned to hold a saw, saw boards, drive nails, screw in screws, even make small stools for mother. I really like the way this group helps my son with his need to connect with men. He just runs to the workshop and the men who teach him.

Oleksiy, son of Viktoria Bilyakova, about Dad’s workshop

I really like that we make different crafts for the house: spatulas, stools, swords and many other things. On New Year’s we were given free eggs, milk, sweet gifts and nice soap to give to mom. I made many friends there, I also like the teachers.

Olena Ovcharenko, mother of a boy who attends the workshop

Dad’s Workshop is a real find for boys who are raised only by mothers. My husband died a few years ago, and because of this, my son Pasha lacked male attention and useful male advice, so he grew up as a closed and insecure boy. In addition, my mother worked all the tim

Thanks to Dad’s Workshop, my son opened up, became more self-confident, began to smile more often, and met real friends. Every time he looks forward to Saturday to go to the workshop. We are sincerely grateful to all the organizers for this.

Also, special thanks for organizing interesting and useful meetings for us, mothers. This is really very important for us, because it gives us the opportunity to distract ourselves from all the difficulties and relax our soul and body.

Pavlo, son of Olena Ovcharenka

I like teachers in workshop because they teach me what a man’s work is, and I learn it for my future. For example, my wife will ask me to make a chair and I can make it. And in the future, I will be able to create wooden toys for my children. I find it fun and interesting in the workshop. I made friends here. Thank yo

Yulia Revenko, mother of a boy who attends the workshop

I am very happy that I found out about this wonderful project. Today, I am raising my son alone and there is no one to teach my son to work with wood and tools. In Dad’s Workshop, wonderful male teachers work with the boys. In general, for my son, Dad’s Workshop is a combination of learning and communication at the same tim

Danylo, son of Yulia Revenko

Boy shared that he liked going to the workshop and is glad that he can learn to make corks from wood there.

A group like Dad’s Workshop is just one of the ways to help children who need male attention and care. We hope that soon the awareness of our men will increase (especially, this applies to young dads), and more and more children will have their own loving father next to them. This will certainly reduce children’s risk of psychological and emotional problems and will have a positive impact on their entire future life. Of course, we sincerely sympathize with all the families who lost their men in the war and we hope that Ukrainian volunteers will pay special attention to these families.

International Center of Fatherhood
International Center of Fatherhood
Our mission is to achieve change at the national level in understanding the role of men as fathers in the family, society and the church through forming state family policy and public opinion for family values; and to promote the biblical model of a good father, to encourage men to follow it and to develop leadership in the home, the church and in society.

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