Le Bonheur Dad's Group Keeps Families Strong

Who do the kids run to when their sick? Mom.

Who do they run to when they're hurt? Mom.

Dad is often passed by on the first round but he plays an equally important role as mom - sometimes more so - especially when their child is at the hospital.

So often we hear from the moms about their children at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital how they never leave their child's side and the lengths they'll go to fight for treatments.

But what about the dads? As Le Bonheur's Dad's Support Group shows us, behind that strong figure keeping the family foundation is just as much love and compassion.

MORE: Children's Miracle Network Hospital stories

It doesn't take long to notice Shynoa James has her daddy wrapped around her finger.

"She laughs, she plays, she dances, she loves playground equipment, she loves people," says Jeremiah James.

So you can imagine when she fell off a swing, how her dad felt.

"I had turned away for five seconds," he said. "It was terrifying. I was standing 10-feet from her when the bolt on the swing broke."

After 15 minutes of crying she went back to playing. Three days went by before within three hours Shynoa changed.

"Her eyes went from being completely fine to literally looking like they were going to bulge out of her head," Jeremiah said. "Like I wanted to put my hands in front of her to catch them."

They're no strangers to hospitals and surgeries. Shynoa is a special needs child. But they've never had a visit as frightening as this.

So Jeremiah sought out Le Bonheur Children's Hospital's Dad Support Group.

"Some share deep, deep pain and experiences, and also their joy," said Kobena Charn, chaplain.

The Dad Support Group has been around for a year, led by Le Bonheur's chaplains like Charn. He, like many of the dads in the group, has his own story: His daughter battled leukemia.
"Traditionally men don't want to leave their family when they come to the hospital," Charn said. "They want to be around, they want to be there as support for the mother and also for the child."
This support group isn't formal.

"Most think we're going to sit around and talk about the Bible," Charn said. "They come and there's ESPN on, we have pizza too."

"It's not like a big cry or sob session," Jeremiah said.

It's a gathering of fathers new to the hospital routine and fathers who have years of experience with their kids and surgeries.

"It's a lot more relatable than you think," Jeremiah said. "It makes a difference talking to someone, it really does."

"From this, the dads begin to develop relationships with other dads on the floor and that's good care for entire family," Charn added.

It's one hour for dads to talk about their concerns and their kids, their fears or even joys, and especially the joy of going back home and just being dad.
"Tomorrow will be a better day," Jeremiah said. "There will be a time when a couple weeks or couple months from now you'll look back and go, 'You remember that crazy situation where we were there? Thank God it's all over. It's all behind us now.'"

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