In Bulgaria, fathers are still seen as “sidekicks” but are eager to be more involved – especially at school

Fathers and children in a gymnasium.The Safety For Our Children Conference, organized by MenCare partner For Our Children Foundation, was held in March 2016. During the conference, a MenCare Bulgaria campaign representative presented key results from a nationally representative study of parents with children under 18 years old. The presentation focused on fathers’ participation in their children’s education and healthcare. Research concluded that the role of Bulgarian fathers is still most often seen as that of a helper or “sidekick” when it comes to these domains.

The conference highlighted an initiative in four Bulgarian schools to involve fathers and male caregivers in children’s education. MenCare partner Association Roditeli and Milena Kopacheva, an elementary school teacher from the Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Kozloduy, presented the “Invite Fathers to Kindergarten” initiative. The team was happy to share that, because of the initiative, fathers are now receptive to joining certain school activities, and they are gaining new respect for the school and the teachers. Fathers’ involvement at school also helps improve children’s self-esteem. “Your dad is really cool,” classmates say, when a child’s father leads an activity or plays with the kids.

A report about the impact of the initiative, Assessing the Impact of “Invite Fathers to Kindergarten” Trainings with Kindergarten Teachers, revealed positive results. Including fathers in kindergarten activities not only led them to be more active in their children’s education and more willing to provide support for the school, but it also changed the attitudes of teachers toward fathers. After participating in the initiative, teachers more highly valued the involvement of fathers in children’s education and emotional development.