Dad 2.0: I Found My People

dadsgroupI finally found a sliver of validation after three days in the Crescent City.

During my six years as a dad blogger, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never wondered why the hell I’m even bothering doing what I do. I have a small audience, no advertising on the site, I’m overly opinionated so I’m not attractive to many top brands, and many times I feel like my voice is just so insignificant and change is impossible.

Then I went to the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans this week, and finally got the answers I’ve been seeking.

Why do dad bloggers do what they do? Because little by little, individual voices add up and start to be heard collectively. Suddenly dads start to become competent caregivers on TV instead of complete morons. And then dads are on the Today show for stepping up and implementing change.

Dads, the ignored and often ridiculed half of the parenting equation, garner the attention of major television executives like Jason Katims, who takes the challenge of writing dads — real dads — seriously. And then working dads like Josh Levs put their brilliant journalism careers on the line in the name of fighting for paternity leave, because dads want to be involved parents too.

But it’s not just the big names.

The most riveting and emotional moment of the conference for me was listening to Lorne Jaffe read his piece “Do I Really Like What I Like?” Lorne has a history of severe anxiety and depression, and the thought of speaking in front of hundreds of people about his nervous breakdowns was one of his biggest fears. Despite assurances from many of us that he’d do great, he was shaking HARD when he got up to the podium. But he forged ahead and when he was done, 250 people popped up from their chairs like they were spring loaded to give him a standing ovation. The power of that moment can be summed up by the fact that I, a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, gave Lorne (who was wearing a Yankees hat), a teary-eyed standing ovation.

Because true courage is being terrified and doing it anyway. I’m proud of you Lorne.

But my main takeaway was the simple fact that hundreds of involved fathers came together to talk about change, because even though we’ve made progress we’re not satisfied. We’re asking what’s next? What can we do better? How can we move things along faster? Dad 2.0 helped bring in people who can help get answers and further the cause.

Simply put, I felt like I was part of something much bigger than me or my site. If change is to happen, it will happen at events like Dad 2.0. The conversations that took place will shape the future of fatherhood, of media, and how dads are viewed.

That’s not hyperbole and I’m not blowing smoke. The dads involved here are spectacular people — talented people — who are amazingly down to Earth. They’re supportive of others, inclusive of all voices, and willing to share opportunities. It’s a genuine community of talented and accomplished people, and that’s why Dad 2.0 felt more like a homecoming than a networking event. Which is good because I’m a horrible networker who would rather cut off a limb than walk up to someone and give them my business card unsolicited.

But whether it was in a conference room or the hauntingly beautiful streets of New Orleans after one too many Hurricanes, I feel like I found my people. And my people are getting. shit. done.

So what now? I don’t know for sure, but it’s happening and it’s gonna change minds and attitudes.

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7 thoughts on “Dad 2.0: I Found My People

  1. Really great piece, as always, Aaron. As a working mom with a fabulous husband of 16 years who chose to leave his executive professional career and be primary caregiver for our sons, now 7 and 3, I have been offended and insulted on his behalf for years at the implicit stereotype on television and in the media, particularly in commercials. Not to mention the overt discrimination he has been subjected to — from men and women. I have noticed the recent improvement of the representation of fathers in television commercials and it was really interesting to see that impression played out mathematically. I applaud you, Aaron, and the other dads out there trying to make the world understand that men can (and should) be equal partners in raising a family. I need to encourage my husband to attend Dad 2.0 next year so he can see that he is not alone!!

  2. Well said sir…as an African American Dad…I really would like to implement this more into my community where the epidemic of fatherless children is starting to run rampant….mad support yo.

  3. Much like Dad 2.0 summit, fatherhood is a moving target. We learn from our dad, we teach our kids. Somewhere in that equation we hope we get it right. Frequently the experience humbles us. It certainly has me. The longer I’ve been a dad, that less certain I am of what I know. I do know this: our father’s give us their name to hold in stewardship to pass to our kids. With a name like Gerry Sandusky (no relation to the former Penn State coach) I have a unique understanding of that charge.

    My new book, Forgotten Sundays, comes out in April. It deals with what we learn from our fathers, what I learned from mine, and why our names have value. I hope the book brings you and other dads a sense of walking on a path that others have travelled before. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Sundays-Sons-Story-Sidelines/dp/076245248X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1379202559&sr=8-2&keywords=Gerry+Sandusky

    Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep having the courage to share your voice. And most importantly, keep being a great dad.

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