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How To Be A Father

In the past, fathers rarely helped care for their babies. The diapering, feeding, and late nights were considered a mother's job. All that has been changing. Case in point: a special class in South Weymouth, Massachusetts called "Boot Camp for New Dads."

David and Janice Hobaica are expecting their first child in December. Like many men, this dad-to-be hasn't spent much time holding babies. He admits, "I've no experience at all."). That's about to change. David says: ""I plan to be very active in the taking care of our babies." His wife Janice adds: "I have no doubts about him at all as far as handling the baby, but I think if he's more confident, he'll be able to be more confident with him."

To gain that confidence, David is participating in a parenting class that has a strict policy of "no women allowed" unless they're under six months of age.

As a camp leader, Steve Dubin puts it: "The idea behind Boot Camp for Dads is to make you feel more comfortable."

That is, it's a program for men by men. Dads who took the course before their babies were born return as veterans to act as teachers. With no mothers present, the dads get a rare opportunity to shine as experts. The class is not only a how-to experience, it gives the men a chance to talk in a just-between-men atmosphere.

Andy Willer is an expectant father: "When you're in an environment with men and women, I think you're a lot more restricted in what you'll ask. A bunch of guys sitting around, you know, things just fly and everyone nods and says, 'yeah, I've been through the same thing'."

"Sometimes, the first time they confront being a dad and talking about it seriously is in this class, and this class helps them sort out some of their thoughts and feelings about it," says Dugan.

Veteran fathers are encouraged to talk about their experience of fatherhood. One admitted: "I found that, at times, I wasn't realizing my wife was doing a lot of it, and I was just sort of kicking back thinking it was okay, and then I realized I've got to pitch in. Of course, she helped me realize it."

The program was started almost ten years ago in California. Today, there are 50 hospitals around the country that offer the boot camp for new dads.

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