What we learned from at home dads…

What we learned from at home dads…

Our trip starts with a ride on Banjo Billy’s Bus Tour. The artfully decorated tour bus, a popular Colorado curiosity, pulls up to our hotel, music blaring, and out bounds our welcoming guide, Richard Blake. “Are you with the At-Home Dads group?” he asks. I smile at my colleague, Stephanie. We are the only two people waiting on the sidewalk outside our hotel, and we are women.

But yes, we are the party he is looking for.

The driver takes us to the Denver Food Bank where we will put together food packages for Colorado families in need, alongside some of the 80+ stay-at home fathers who are attending the 18th Annual At-Home Dad convention this year. The convention is the 2nd longest-running fatherhood event in the country and the flagship event of the National At-Home Dad Network. The network, originally called Daddyshome and started in 2003, is dedicated to helping stay at-home fathers find support and resources, including tips for beginning their own local, at-home Dad groups.

Convention sessions covered topics you’d expect at any conference for moms: blogging, returning to work, education, childhood development, marriage and relationships, and how to parent without regrets or losing one’s mind. But what distinguishes this conference from mom-gatherings are a few, significant things.  First, the conference is designed for fathers, by fathers, and it includes a scholarship program so that at-home Dads from every income level can attend.

Secondly, the convention addresses critical subjects in a way that is meant to speak directly to men. This year’s theme was mental health, with an extraordinary keynote presentation by Jarrod Hindman, MS, of the Colorado Department of Public Health about a public-private effort called ManTherapy.org. The program is an online resource that includes an anonymous mental health assessment tool and features videos by a hilarious, fictitious, therapist named Dr. Rich Mahogany. The videos had dads laughing out loud in recognition and relief, and was incredibly effective in breaking down barriers to talking about sensitive subjects such as depression, suicide and seeking help with both.

Lastly, the convention offered a few extracurricular activities, like the service project we participated in Friday morning, as well as a night of bowling, sight-seeing tours, a cocktail hour meet-and-greet and three dinners. It was at these informal gatherings, and in the conversations between breakouts, where fathers were able to speak openly about their personal challenges, and joys, and to form lasting bonds with other dads there.

These fathers willingly sign up to do a thankless job, one that our culture, and the world, simultaneously devalues and expects only a woman to be able to do well.  They navigate a landscape that is unwelcoming to fathers as caregivers at best, (mommy and Me-land) and is downright hostile, at worst, with spoken and inferred fears of them as predators, on playgrounds and at playgroups.  We were so pleased and honored to be the only two moms to attend, as parents, speakers and sponsors of the event. We found these fathers to be open and engaged; emotionally open to us and to their own, innate nurturing selves and engaged with their children, on every level. We were impressed by the love and admiration with which they described their wives.

A powerful, experienced group of stay-at-home dads, organizing and training the next generation of fathers, gives us hope for the future.  We will continue to support them every way we can, and we look forward to seeing them in Denver in 2014.

Lisa Duggan is the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Community Development at umojawa.com, a crowdfunding platform supporting educational and not-for-profit organizations serving youth and their communities.

What is Umojawa?

What is umojawa?

umojawa is a crowdfunding platform supporting educational and not-for-profit organizations serving youth and their communities. Individuals and organizations working to enhance and improve the educational and cultural experiences of youth can upload their projects on umojawa and supporters from anywhere in the world can rally to fund those projects.

The founders and crew at umojawa have gone to great lengths to create and foster an intentional community of like-minded people dedicated to celebrating youth and those who educate and inspire them. It is our intent to complement your organizations’ existing fundraising and volunteering activities by giving you a user-friendly platform to create visually compelling viral fundraising campaigns that raise awareness and funding for your organizational needs and dreams.

We are here to help you get started or answer any question you may have. We will do our best to respond to your requests and answer questions as quickly as possible – promise!

One Mama’s Rant on TV Turn-Off

One Mama’s Rant on TV Turn-Off

What began as a rebellion against the culture of stupidity, celebrated on the “boob tube”, has now become a ban against screens of all kinds-computers, video games and apps.

With the support of the American Medical Association, the National Education Association and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and sports, TV Turn Off gets a whole bunch of buzz rallying the support of teachers and students alike in hopes of motivating our children to get up and move!  Expanding waste lines and difficulties with attention have become hot topics across the nation, but is TV Turn Off the answer? Do we really need to put all our devises in the closet to connect with others and foster healthier eating and exercising habits?  Read more