A male Buddy for your child
Welcome to Buddies for Kids – Mieskaverit®
Buddies for Kids – Mieskaverit® is one of the volunteering opportunities developed by Pienperheyhdistys. It was started in 1992 and has shown its’ meaning and importance for children, mothers, and the volunteers.
Buddies for Kids are adult men volunteering to spend time with single mothers’ children who have no contact with their own father or other important male figures. The goal is to provide an opportunity for the child to have an adult male mentor in his/her life, to help the child and the volunteer build a safe and confidential relationship, and to provide the child with an expanded network to support his/her development.
A buddy can be any ordinary, dependable man, who has time and energy to spend time with a young person. Age, appearance, nationality, occupation, or other personal characteristics play no role. The goal is not to reinforce male stereotypes; every man is welcome to volunteer just as he is. What matters is the capability of interacting with all sorts of people and the time and the will to share one’s everyday life with a child.
The basis of the activity is trust between the volunteer and the family. The children are 4-15 years old in the beginning. Many volunteers and children form friendships that can last for years – even decades.
How to start?
It always starts with the mother contacting the voluntary work coordinator and writing an application. The mothers will be introduced to Buddies for Kids – practice in a personal meeting with the voluntary work coordinator.
The men take a 15-hour training, where they get the basic information about the organization and principles. In the training there is lots of discussion on topics such as principles of voluntary work, different family situations, role of a volunteer. In addition, the volunteers discuss their own childhood memories and meaningful experiences in their lives. All prospective Buddies for Kids are interviewed, and their criminal records will be checked.
After the trainings and introductions, the mother of the child and the Buddy meet.
The voluntary work coordinator asks for permission to share mother’s contact information with a prospective Buddy. The Buddy contacts the mother, and they decide when to meet. In the beginning it is very important to talk about issues, that might potentially cause conflicts between people. Getting to know each other and building trust is the key for long lasting, mutual friendship. If the cooperation between mother and the Buddy seems promising, they decide when and where to meet the child. In the beginning many Buddies meet the child 1-4 times per month. They decide together what they do. In cases of younger children of course it is the mother who communicates with the volunteer.
Crucial for a successful relationship between the child and the volunteer is the ability and will of the adults to discuss their points of view, also the not-so-comfortable topics. The primary aspiration is to connect to each other the Buddies and children who are interested in similar subjects and who don’t live too far from each other. The number of children waiting for a Buddy is bigger than the number of men being trained to be Buddies. After submitting the application, it may take few weeks or months, in some cases even a year, to be contacted.
Right now there are Buddies for Kids volunteers in Uusimaa (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and surroundings), Kuopio, Oulu, Päijät-Häme, Tampere, Turku and Vaasa.
Instructions for applying a Buddy
The application is informal. Before writing, please check that you belong to the target group:
The Buddies for Kids – Mieskaverit is meant for children who are raised alone by their mother (or another female guardian). Children are 4–15 of age and have no connection to their father or other close men. We cannot provide Buddies for children who permanently live in child caring institutions, or those who live in a family of two female parents. A relationship with father can be good even if the child and his/her father meet seldom.
The Buddies are trained to be buddies. If the child needs special support, therapy etc. the Buddy-volunteers are not the right people to contact.
Think first what you expect from the Buddy. How does it fit for the schedules of your family and relationships? How are you going to support the relationship of the Buddy and your child? What kind of experiences and assumptions you have about men?
Write 1-2 pages about your family and what you wish from this relationship. Write about your and your child’s most important issues. You can encourage your child to write or draw as well.
At least write about the following topics:
The father of the child and other men: What kind of relationship does your child have with the father? Why there is no relationship or why does it not work? Do you have shared custody with the father of the child? If so, what does he think of applying a male Buddy? Are there other men in the life of your child?
Child: Hobbies and activities he/she likes. What are the interests? Describe his/her personality. If there are siblings and you only apply a Buddy for one, tell us why.
School/daycare/everyday life: What goes well? Are there difficulties in school/daycare or with adults and friends? What do you do together? What brings joy and what are the things that bring conflict?
Expectations: What would the child want to do with the Buddy? What would you like to see them doing?
Principles of raising your child, values, ways of living: Which principles of raising your child or ideological issues are those you would like another adult to share and carry out? Which are the things you can be flexible with? What kind of a man you trust and appreciate? What kind of things would be difficult to accept in another adult? What could be an obstacle in building the trust and relationship with the Buddy?
Alcohol, nicotine: do you use? What do you think of if the Buddy smokes or uses alcohol?
Illnesses, allergies, special needs: mention the allergies and illnesses of your child (especially if the child needs medication, has a limitation or disability, or has food/animal allergies. Do you have pets in your family?
Remember to add:
– your name
– address, email address and phone number
– name and date of birth of your child(ren)
The application is confidential. It is the main tool for finding your family the most suitable volunteer Buddy. Only the voluntary work coordinator will handle it.
Send the application to the coordinator of your area. The voluntary work coordinator will contact you.
If writing the application is difficult for you for any reason, please contact the voluntary work coordinator of your area.
Keep a copy of your sent application. It is good to refer later to what you thought about when applying.
The application is valid for three years. Remember to keep us updated about changes of address, need for the Buddy and if your child receives a support person, mentor, or another volunteer during the time of waiting for a Buddy.
Here you find contact information of all voluntary work coordinators of Buddies for Kids – Mieskaverit®