by Sean Teuma
""NOTHING is more important than being a role model for my two kids.”
For years, single father Raymond Alldridge didn't realise that.
Despite having two daughters in his life, he said he took it for granted.
Mr Alldridge admits to having a tough run before joining the recent Strong Fathers program held in Warwick.
"I had a bit of a misled youth,” he said.
"Drugs and crime have been an issue for me in the past, and I couldn't imagine my kids in that same situation.
"It's why I want to do everything I can to make sure they don't go down that same path that I have been down.
"I want to be a good role model and a good parent.”
Despite the difficulty that comes with facing adversity and personal challenges, Mr Alldridge was forward about
not being focused in the past.
"I was selfish in a lot of ways before coming here,” he said.
"You don't realise until you take a step back and see what you've been doing wrong.
"I can see now that I was pig-headed at the time without even realising it at the time.
"I was thinking that I was doing the right thing by others, but I wasn't.
"If I didn't have the Strong Fathers program, things would be a lot different for me.”
Mr Alldridge decided enough was enough, and it was time to put his children first.
He joined the Strong Fathers program conducted by Carbal Medical Centre, and was able to realise
how vital it was for him to be a positive influence in his children's lives.
"I've noticed a change over the course of the 16 weeks that I've been involved here, and it's helped me improve things such as my patience and understanding,” he said.
"It's been a big eye-opener for me.
"I've been given the chance to speak to a lot
of fathers in a similar situation to myself, and have learnt a lot about different people's perspectives on parenting.
"As well as that, we get the chance to interact
with other adults, talk
about life issues and what's going on.
"It has given us the chance to connect and form friendships.”
The Strong Fathers program consists of group sessions of different topics to help benefit fathers.
Topics include the role of dads, dealing with stress and anger, and personal growth.
Carbal Medical Centre programs manager Charlie Rowe said the Strong Fathers program offered fathers the chance to change their lives for the better of their families and themselves.
"People have given up drugs, and changed their attitude tremendously since coming through the doors,” Mr Rowe said.
"They've improved the way they perceive things, and are looking a lot healthier.
"One of our main aims is to help fathers to realise that they're a role model.”