It has been more than a decade since Alex Vlahos last spoke to his dad.

Amidst the pieces, Alex found purpose, and he now starts conversations with dads in the north to empower them in fatherhood.

“I am grateful that they are fighting for their kids and that they are trying to better themselves for their children,’’ said Alex, a Dads and Fatherhood Worker at Centacare.

Through a strengths-based and child-focused approach, Alex uses fatherhood as a motivator to address challenges such as financial distress, and alcohol and drug use.

Many of the fathers he meets have been impacted by intergenerational trauma.

Alex supports them to build on their coping mechanisms and develop parenting approaches that strengthen the parent-child relationship.

‘’The most satisfying part of my role is supporting fathers to be reflective around their parenting and the type of father they want to be for their children,’’ he said.

Alex points to the success of a baby massage pilot program, run in the Playford area by Centacare for the first time earlier this year.

The program aimed to facilitate couples’ conversations while providing them time to bond with their baby. 

“I was able to speak to the families about the changes in relationships after having a baby and encourage the fathers to be more active members of the household,’’ Alex said.

“This led to couples coming up with ideas on sharing roles and responsibilities in ways that worked for them. It also prompted idea sharing amongst the couples, especially between those who already had set routines, which they felt worked. 

“This sharing led another couple to implement this routine, which they stated had greatly improved the father’s relationship with the baby but also the mother’s mental health.’’

On Father’s Day, Alex is encouraging dads to recognise the vital role they play in children’s lives.

“My message is for dads not to give up and to keep working and striving to be the best they can for their kids in the hope they don’t end up like me, who, at 27, hasn’t spoken to their dad in years,’’ he said.

*Through Dad’s Business, Centacare delivers a range of inclusive activities for fathers in the Playford area. The program provides relaxed and non-judgmental group environments where dads can be themselves and share their parenting experiences.

For more information, phone 8412 9500 or visit Alex and the team at shop 7a Elizabeth Rise Shopping Centre, Hamblynn Rd, Elizabeth Downs.

Dad’s Business is a Communities for Children initiative and is funded by the Department of Social Services via our facilitating partner AnglicareSA.

PICTURED: Megan Jones, Manager, Dad’s Business; Alex Vlahos, Dads and Fatherhood Worker; and Chantal Dodd, Team Leader – Northern Programs – Kids in Focus and Dad’s Business.