For the past twenty-six years the image of the modern dad I observed in my community and social dad network is far different than the media and Hollywood continue to portray in newspapers, magazines, television and movies. The breed of dads I have met are caring, nurturing, sensitive, compassionate men who chose to embrace a different approach to parenting then their dads, while still keeping their masculinity in tact. I don’t mean any disrespect to the past generation of dads but today’s modern dads have shown a tremendous amount of courage in redefining the image of fatherhood in a positive way.
Today’s modern dad is not only a different breed of man but he also lives in a different parenting climate, one in which dads are more involved at home and also pro-active in their community. One of the most significant positive changes today’s modern dad has made is the choice to be the primary caregiver of the family. Stay-at-home dads have proven a man is just as capable as a woman to nurture and care for children; and also manage a household. The role reversal has proved to be a valuable asset for many women by having fewer distractions at home affording them more opportunities to advance their careers.
As the population of stay-at-home dads and their comfort level to embrace the primary caregiver role increased, so did the interest of working dads to change their attitude about their role as involved parents. In so doing, these modern day fatherhood pioneers set a higher standard of involvement for other dads to follow.
One example comes from Jim DiCenzo, who I met in 1995. During a fatherhood workshop, one of the dads in attendance expressed his frustration about how unfriendly medical professionals and educators were to fathers. Jim replied, “If you would like a father-friendly environment, you need to act like a friendly father.”
Jim’s comment was a wake-up call millions of dads have embraced and acted on throughout the USA with great success. Some examples include the following accomplishments:
Boot Camp for New Dads an expectant dads class, which debuted in 1991, is now offered in 45 states.
Dad Clubs. One of the first debuted at an Irvine, California elementary school in 1994. Today, the Watch D.O.G.S Dads Club program is in 3,793 schools in 46 states; Al Pro Dad 1,164 Chapters in 45 States. Many other Dads Clubs operate independently under the PTA and PTO umbrellas.
National At-Home Dad Network debuted in 1996. Today the national organization has 3,200 members and 52 dad playgroups.
Today’s modern dads have built an incredible support and network system for fathers. In so doing, another side and image of fatherhood evolved which I describe as “Dads Behaving DADLY.”
In 2010, I invited Al Watts, President of the National At-Home Dad Network, to join me on a Dads Behaving DADLY book project to share the real image of fatherhood as I was seeing it. Through our extensive social fatherhood network, we invited dads to write and submit a story about a Dadly moment they had with their children. Dads from the USA, Canada and Australia stepped up to the plate and took a huge leap of faith in Al and me to publicly share their deepest, intimate thoughts about their role as involved dads. What you will read are stories about the Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood from all types of dads with different family dynamics, income level and ethnic backgrounds.
I hope after you read Dads Behaving Dadly (released this month by Motivational Press) you will discover a newfound respect and faith for men as fathers, embrace the wonderful changes today’s modern dads have made to redefine the image of fatherhood, but more importantly, acknowledge that the dads in this book have proven the loving, tender, devoted, masculine spirit of fatherhood is alive and well!
What are some "Dadly Moments" you have witnessed?
Hogan Hilling is the author of six self-help parenting books. He has also appeared on Oprah. To learn more about the Dads Behaving Dadly book and co-authors Hogan Hilling and Al Watts visit www.dadsbehavingdadly.com
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