30th November 2019 – Thomas Lynch, co-founder of Dads Rock

Being a Dad changed my life. I honestly didn’t think it would, I thought I had so much to teach my son. I naively never thought about what he had to teach me. When we had our first son, I was surprised by the lack of Dads I saw at groups I went to, one night myself and another Dad (David) were talking about it and wanted to do something. Our idea was to have a place where Dads and kids could come and have fun together, and meet other Dads. We both loved music, especially Rock, and the name ‘Dads Rock’ was meant to be open to interpretation, so it could be literal, as well as a hope that we could help more Dads to be awesome.

We launched our first playgroup in 2012, we started to see the other gaps for supporting Dads across Scotland and wanted to do more. We now run the following services in Edinburgh: Saturday and Sunday playgroups, Music Tuition for young people and family members, Primary school and Secondary School work, 1:1 support for Young Dads. We also run parenting workshops across Scotland covering: Antenatal for Dads, First Aid, Feeding, Hairstyle, Raising Children with Confidence and Sleeping. We are developing plans to expand our work, we want to do more, and in more parts of Scotland and are open to working with other like minded organisations.

Dads Rock is here to improve outcomes for children by inspiring their Dads and families to have the best relationships they can. We want all children in Scotland to be loved, well looked after and to have the best start in life.

At times there has been a perception that a lot of families who engage with us are single parents, the truth is most are not. We support a wide range of families.

Before starting Dads Rock, I worked in an office. I had very little knowledge or experience of working with children and supporting families. Whilst I had a great team I worked with in the bank, it’s safe to say my job didn’t spark joy, having a child and then being around other children taught me that you could have fun at work. It showed me that the first few months and years were key to helping Children and families get on the right path.

Our first child is now 11 years old and on the cusp of moving from Primary to Secondary school, he’s been lucky that his primary school has had a handful of male teachers working there, as did his nursery.

To me it’s important that our children see both men and women in Nurseries, schools and indeed the workforce in general, to me it’s ridiculous that we would think of saying to our children that certain jobs are for men, or women. I believe we need both men and women working with children, so they understand that it’s a team effort. When I was at school, my primary had two men working in it. One was the janitor and one was the headteacher. I’m glad my children will have a different and I believe better experience. We talk about a village being needed to raise a child, we wouldn’t expect that village to be just full of men, or just women. We need both. I believe it’s also important to show Dads and men that they are important and needed, that they have responsibilities and a duty to be actively involved.

Great efforts have been made to start to break down barriers, whenever I meet a young man who is now working in early years I see that there’s hope. More clearly needs to be done. We all need to continue to tell our children that they can work in any sector. We need to see more male role models in the early years, and we need to really value the role of the early year worker. I think more needs to be done to help wider society understand how vital good early year workers are for our children.

There is so much being written about gender and the role it plays. I think the journey that teacher Graham Andre has been on is really interesting, you can read about his learning of gender bias here: Graham. There’s lots of people talking about gender online, I quite like these people at the Gender Equality Collective: GEC There’s also the good work of Shaddei Tembohttps://criticalearlyyears.org/blog/, talking about gender in the early years, as well as race.

Before I became a Dad I didn’t know it took a village to raise a child, I thought it was something my wife and I would do. It took me some time to find my own village, there’s still a lot of work needed, but I believe we’re getting there and are going in the right direction. https://thegec.org/

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