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Group takes on a support role for dads

AS FAMILIES around Canberra take time to pay tribute to their fathers on Sunday, the territory's only registered father's playgroup has called for greater recognition of the demands on dads.

One group of Canberra men have taken it on themselves to provide more regular support, combining child play with manly chats at a unique and growing Dad's playgroup in Belconnen.

Casten Makochekanwa co-founded the monthly group in September 2010, and said the idea came from the way new mothers united to share their parenting stories.

''Basically we learnt from our wives. First-time mothers, they were gathering around each other on weekdays to support each other, and we thought 'we want to give our wives a break' and wanted to build networks,'' Dr Makochekanwa said.

In between caring for children with singing, reading, games and craft, the father of three said the men enjoyed comparing stories and strategies.

''We said 'we started off as couples and now we're fathers', and how we are all struggling with time pressures,'' he said.

''It definitely helped; it seems like you're the only ones in the world struggling with this.

''For example, one of the discussions we had was that after coming home from work [one man] wanted his own time, and he'd plug his headphones in. Each one of us really appreciated that we must have time to cool down, and one said I do it this way, another said I do it this way.''

An ACT Playgroups Association spokeswoman said the group, which meets at the West Belconnen Family and Health Centre, was the only one registered known to be run for fathers.

Anup Chowdhury, originally from Zimbabwe, joined the group in 2011 as his twin girls were beginning to walk. He said, as a new arrival to Canberra, he enjoyed the networking with people at similar stages of life.

''We are all from different cultural backgrounds, so discussing those is kind of fun, and we try to learn from things - this is how it happens there,'' he said.

''We try to resolve problems and come up with tactics to help.''

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