What They Don’t Know: The Dad Movement Has Never Been Stronger

 

Mainstream media calls it a down year for dads, despite all evidence to the contrary

2012 would appear to be a down year for dads, if you only looked at mainstream media. Hanna Rosin published “The End of Men”, developed from a 2010 feature in The Atlantic where she asserted “the modern economy is becoming a place where women hold the cards…the real loser in society—the only one to have made just slight financial gains since the 1970s—is the single man.” It could be inferred, then, that stay-at-home dads were victims of the new economy as well, not the product of conscious and consensual choice. What a bunch of losers. Andy Hinds, who writes the Beta Dad blog and was interviewed by Rosin, wrote a thoughtful response on the Daily Beast to his mischaracterization and the fundamental problem of the book, “that women’s achievements must come at an exorbitant price to men.”

Further marginalizing dads’ changing roles was a forecast for parenting trends in 2013 by Lisa Belkin, the preeminent journalist on parenting issues. Of the 13 parenting trends she listed in the Huffington Post on what “Moms and Dads Should Expect to See in 2013,” one was the equivocal point that “Dads will stay in the picture.”

Men are steadily changing what it means to be a father — valuing life/work balance more than women in many polls, staying home with children more often, ceding the breadwinner role, blogging about their parenting pride and frustration.

Yes, that’s right, great. But what’s this?

Changes like these are incremental, though. It’s one of Zeno’s paradoxes that space is infinitely divisible—you can keep dividing something in half for eternity, never actually arriving at the endpoint. All the talk about fathers will continue to feel that way—getting closer, but not there yet.

Not where? Perhaps it was meant that as a culture we have not embraced the ascendant role of dads, and dads are not yet considered equal. Perhaps.

One of the narrowest pieces on the state of fatherhood was The Washington Times on the rise of absent fathers, ostensibly based on the 2010 US Census. It ran a follow-up to clarify the trend wasn’t limited to poor black men. They called it journalism.

The end of men, the rise of deadbeat dads, the at-home-dad as novelty–not only have these perspectives—and the cultural misinformation that engenders them—grown tired, they’re also limiting.

Dads are more active, involved, and outspoken about parenting than ever before. The conversation on the roles of dads today, and the networks this topic has generated, are so robust and dynamic it is almost impossible to quantify. But we’re going to try. This isn’t about men versus women, or dads versus mom, we’re all in this together. A child wouldn’t need to be told this, yet it must be made clear to hucksters of all shades.

The following list, pulled from resources here at the GMP and from a wonderful Dads group on facebook, showcases a sample of dads that are making major contributions about what it means to be a man—and a father—at this point in our shared history.

Dad 2.0 Summit—Every movement has a conference and this business-minded annual summit brings together marketers and social media with nearly 30 speakers to address “the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood.”

The National At-Home Dad Network—this non-profit decade-old support and advocacy group is a national network with a local focus on dads who are the primary caregivers. Check out the blog.

National Fatherhood Initiative—approaching 20 years of addressing the problems of absent fathers and to “To improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.” We’re particularly fond of its blog, The Father Factor.

DadCentric—One of the best out there, this revoultion-minded “junta” is set to “overthrow the outdated notions of fatherhood.”

NYC Dads Group—though its members meet up in NYC, this huge network is international in scope, with one of our favorite blogs and great resources on starting a group.

MEGA SAHD—Mark Greene is a long-time partner of the GMP and a strong voice on men’s issues.

Laid Off Dad—launched nearly a decade ago, when Doug French got laid off while having a newborn, has become legendary. French has become the force behind Dad 2.0, and a leading proponent of the dad blog movement.

Geek DadWired‘s tongue-in-cheek Geek blog is tech/gadget/gamer focused but accessible to all and full of great ideas for ways to engage your children.

8BitDad—Zach Rosenberg and Bryan Ferguson culls the internet for dadcentric content and publishes original content and broadcasts a weekly show of Fatherhood Bytes.

Playground Dad—this digital dads mag founded by Mike Johnson is all about quality time with the kids. There’s always something good on this visual, easily-navigable site.

Dad Labs—For the visual browser, Dad Labs makes some awesome videos ranging from the hysterical to the informative. The weekly show (Wednesdays at 2pm CST) is like “Car Talk” but about parenting.

Cute Monster—This visually beautiful site captures our attention with its content, too, with features tending towards dads with young children.

How To Be a Dad—This self-professed anti-authority on “dadology” tends toward humor via multimedia.

Life of Dad—This relative newcomer tends toward comedy and philanthropy. The Social Network for Dads features blogs, videos, and podcasts.

Mommy Man: Adventures of a Gay Superdad—a favorite of the GMP, Jerry Mahoney’s blog is always insightful, comic, and original.

The Noob Dad: For Dads that Never Stopped Being Guys—it’s funny.

My Pathetic Blog—Kevin Harris’s tumblr balances the visual with writing that is simultaneously comic and poignant, rarely pathetic.

Devoted Dads, Inc—this support group founded by Philadelphia police officer Brandon Ruff just started up but is making waves in helping single dads assert their legal rights for their children.

The most significant indicator of dads getting their collective voice heard might be the bloggers group that Oren Miller, of Blogger Father, initiated in November 2012. In just one month, it has gathered over 100 dad writers in a group that straddles the supportive and sarcastic. Here is a sampling of the group:

Ask a Great Dad, Active Duty Dad, Canadian Dad, The Rock Father, Fatherhood (squared), Fandads, Daddy Doctrines, Thoughtful Pop, Luke, I Am Your Father, Super Dad Show, Daddy Blogger, Daddy Files, Rob Hatton’s Blog, All for My Baby, Raised by My Daughter, Dad Scribe, Daddy Place, Designer Daddy, Lick the Fridge, Beta Dad, and dozens more. There are many more not referenced here, such as those recognized by Babble in its 2nd annual best of the dad blogs list.

All these men who are writing about fatherhood are not good fathers because they write about it. If only it were that simple. The proof, however, is in the writing. Read them and you’ll see.

 

 

 

 

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About Robert Duffer

Robert Duffer (www.robertduffer.com) is the editor of the Dads & Families section of The Good Men Project. Winner of the Chicago Public Library's writing contest, his work appears in the Chicago Tribune, MAKE Magazine, Chicago Reader, Curbside Splendor, Time Out Chicago, Chicago Public Radio, Annalemma, New City, and other coffee-table favorites like Canadian Builders Quarterly. He teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and lives in the suburbs with his wife, two kids, and their minivan. Follow @DufferRobert, Google+, facebook.

Comments

  1. Great write-up — keep fighting the good fight. For the next decade or so there will be a large segment of people who will continue to be threatened by a dad who is involved and always there. Let ‘em, it’s for our kids and families.

  2. Andrew Pollom says:

    Rob- Clearly their is a resurgence of fathers and involved, active fatherhood. And yet, in my work with college students, I do see the continuing trends of students that grew up without father’s. Granted, that trend does not (anecdotally) appear to be growing, but I also don’t see it decreasing. At least not among many of the students I serve everyday. And then there are those homes that have fathers but not “dads- meaning someone who is designated as the father figure, but that is not involved in the life of their children. Basically, an adult male roommate. I wonder what more we all, as involved and active fathers, might do to keep this dialogue alive and more importantly, to bring it to the masses- correcting if you will, the reports of the media? Furthermore, what could we do collectively, to challenge our male counterparts to take a more active role in the lives of their children and to raise our children now to understand the need for involvement with their future children one day? Really a great post. I appreciate the collective that you have begun here.

    • Andrew, I acknowledge there are serious issues with single parent families and bad fathers in general, yet the focus of the media has always been on this negative aspect. Quite frankly, it’s an easy sell. The heavy lifting involved in promoting Dads in a favorable light leaves little for the Media to skin its teeth into. No pulitzer prize will be awarded for uncovering great fathers. So there lies the problem from a public perception standpoint. These deadbeat Dads and their ilk will get the attention as long as the ratings/sales rise in tandem. I can’t fathom any serious research has gone into how many “good” fathers are out there. Again, there’s no profit nor scholarly accolades to be obtained from such an endeavor. But we, those of us who have chosen to be engaged with our children and write about it, are making an impact by taking up the role the mainstream media chooses not to. Through social media and other grass roots venues, the message has begun to gain traction. Kids deserve better fathers. And Dads deserve to know they’re not alone.

      Vincent | CuteMonster.com

    • That’s a question as old as fatherhood, Andrew. One way of turning fathers on to the wonderful experience of parenting is to try and engage them through the anecdotal, by sharing our stories. It’s more effective than telling people what to do, I’d think. The challenge is how to initially connect, to share. The father experience is not well represented and that’s something we, as father writing about fatherhood, are changing.

  3. Great article. Fathers are becoming more and more hands on and that is a trend that is and will continue to rise. All of us great dads coming together and sharing has inspired many others to strive to be the best parents they can be. Thanks for including us in the post and we look forward to sharing many more parenting tips & experiences along through the journey of parenting. Thanks for sharing

  4. If you don’t mind, I’ll just add the link to the group. All blogging dads are welcome: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dadbloggers/

    Great article.

    And thanks!

  5. The fact that we have to be referred to as a “movement” or that there’s a Year Of us or not of us is just annoying. But it’s still good to know (and help spread the word) that there ARE lots of other involved fathers out there. Not emasculated, not out-of-work so they have to babysit, not “Mr. Moms”, but Plain Old Good Dads.

    I look forward to all seeing how all the kids of these POGDs turn out. I think they’re gonna be pretty awesome.

    • The “movement” and “year of” stuff is just basically for people that need milestones…mostly the media. Really though, it’s the best kind of “annoying” – it shows us that people are thinking about dads, and, well, if there’s just one year they think dads will be around, it makes the next year even more sweet to be able to say “we’re still here!”

      (And thanks for the mention, Robert!)

      • I agree that its classification is annoying, Zach and DD, as if it were something emergent. I admit to negative connotations with the word, despite using it (I can’t shake its pairing with bowel). The “movement” has more to do with external perspective than anything we’re doing intrinsically, as a whole or individually. “POGDs” is something…

        • LOL. I’ll go ahead and fake-trademark “POGDs” in case it becomes a viral sensation. POGD™

          And yes, The Dad Movement is bigger and stinkier than other movements, often requiring the lighting of candles. And a second flush.

  6. One high point for dads this year that you missed was the outcry, petition, and pretty significant result with those “Dad Test” Huggies commercials. I don’t remember a time a major brand responded to criticisms about how it negatively portrayed dads like that before, not just with lip service about “loving dads” but actually spending a ton of money revamping a whole ad campaign.

  7. I think the the biggest difference between the Dads / Mens movement and the Moms/Womens movement is that we celebrate our victories and the sucesses, where as the the Moms and Womens movement celebrate their losses because there is much more power in that.

  8. Gizzard Stone says:

    This is awesome! So much negativity about dads bouncing around the Internet and among dad bloggers. Thanks for pulling this together.

    -Mike

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  1. [...] fathers are opting for part time work is for family, not economics. This is in line with what we’ve been noticing about dads in the U.S. It’s a lifestyle choice. A majority of the dads interviewed for the [...]

  2. [...] a link to a post by Robert Duffer ( @RobertDuffer ) over at The Good Men Project titled ‘What They Don’t Know: The Dad Movement Has Never Been Stronger‘. The post seeks to call attention to the fact that despite the perception in the mainstream [...]

  3. [...] on what we’ve been seeing on this trend, check out this piece, which might need a new title: What They Don’t Know: The Dads Movement Has Never Been Stronger. /* post_widget("#but1"); Filed Under: Good Feed Blog Tagged With: census [...]

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