PERFECT PICNIC: Jason Miles and daughter Lilly kick up their heels during play time at the Dads and Kids Playgroup picnic in He
PERFECT PICNIC: Jason Miles and daughter Lilly kick up their heels during play time at the Dads and Kids Playgroup picnic in He

Dads duty a walk in the park

By Andy Parks

FIVE-YEAR-OLD Lilly Miles has been taking her dad to the Dads & Kids Playgroup in Lismore every week for more than a year now. And she loves it as much as he does.

Yesterday they were out again at Heritage Park, playing in the sand and cooking sausages as part of a family day for people involved with the group.

Jason Miles is a founder of the playgroup run by the Men and Family Centre, where he has been a volunteer for about three years. He says the group is as great for the kids as it is for the dads.

"It was started to address the awkwardness of dads going to playgroups where it's all mums. It's a place where blokes can come with their kids and meet other dads," Jason said.

"It's fairly informal. The kids tend to gravitate towards the sandpit and we generally sit around and have a cup of tea and a chat while the kids play."

The group now has between six and 12 dads turning up in Lismore every week. Among the regulars are a couple of musicians and labourers, as well as an IT worker, an architect and a chiropractor. Jason said there had been a change in attitude towards men caring for their children, and it was no longer assumed to be the woman's job. But he said men were generally not very good at making social connections.

"There are no other networks for meeting other dads.

There's a kind of default setting where if you didn't know what to do with the kids, you'd just take them to the park," he said.

Another regular at the playgroup is three-year-old River with his dad Leo. "It's a great idea. It's really nice to be able to get together with like-minded dads every week," Leo said.

The Lismore playgroup meets every Monday at the Scout Hall in South Lismore from 10am. A new group recently started at Goonellabah and will resume after the school holidays on Thursday mornings at the YWCA in Rous Road.



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