A self-confessed ‘dude’ acknowledged his ignorance on the eve of fatherhood and started a movement to make extraordinary fathers.
In 2008, when Hugh Weber found out that his wife Amy, aka Mrs. Dude, was pregnant with their first child, he went into shock. As they sat in their bedroom awaiting the stripe(s) on the test stick, he found himself mindlessly repeating, “holy crap, holy crap, holy crap” as it came up positive. As Hugh writes on his website:
Dude to Dad started as a genuine cry for help. I woke up the day after Thanksgiving (2008) and realized that in just 100 days I would be a dad. While I had known for months that I was going to be a father, and though Mrs. Dude had seen many visible signs of motherhood, I was still firmly rooted in my dudehood. With nowhere else to turn, I posted a video on the internet. Within 48 hours, I had received helpful advice from all over the country. Most importantly, it was clear that I wasn’t the only freaked out father-to-be and I wasn’t in this alone. Dude to Dad is my way of sharing this transition with other Dudes and Dads.
Dude to Dad is now a social network that includes over 85,000 dads who want to be the best they can and enjoy the remarkable journey of becoming and being a father. Hugh’s background and work in community organizing, strategic messaging and network theory made him a natural for building a worldwide network of fathers to gather and share knowledge and stories, to innovate and celebrate, and to bring collective wisdom to the most difficult job in the world—parenting.
His first book, Dude to Dad: The First 9 Months, was published in May of 2013, handles the transition to fatherhood with a brilliant and refreshing mix of humor, humility, and helpful advice, and became an Amazon bestseller. It hits on the truths, fears, frustrations, and self-doubt that all fathers experience but are mostly afraid to admit. Some of Hugh’s secrets to parenting success include:
- Identify your allies
- Be aware of the curveball
- Know your limits
- Be fully present
- Raise a child of possibility
This book is meant to help usher ordinary dudes into the next chapter of their lives, better able to talk the talk, walk the walk, and be the extraordinary dad they strive to be.
The last chapter is titled, “Raising a Child of Possibility,” and the concept Hugh laid out led to an experiment, launched on his daughter Emerson’s fifth birthday: a “year of possibility” in which father and daughter explore themes of passion, purpose, philanthropy, ambition, happiness, curiosity, creativity, faith and family and ask the big questions of “why,” “what if,” and “how might we.” The core of the possibility experiment is the Possibility Pledge: I will 1. ask big questions; 2. Dream big dreams; 3. Do big things. An ambitious commitment, but it makes the petty, day-to-day worries of parenting look, well, petty in comparison to the larger questions, while centering father and daughter squarely in the present moment and requiring them to reflect on what they’re experiencing and learning. Hugh spoke eloquently about his Possibility Project last year at TEDx Fargo.
A second newly-released book, Wisdom for Dad: Advice for Dad in 140 Characters or Less, leverages the pith and brevity of Twitter to encapsulate fathering advice in short sentences, some his own, others supplied by friends and followers on Twitter.
The biggest misconception that I had as a new dad was that I would somehow “figure out” or “fix” my kid. That was sure silly.
Miss your days as a dude? STOP. The world has too many dudes. What the world needs is more dads. Focus on being a great one. @mikebilleter
A child is forced to operate in a world built for giants. Remembering this is a step toward understanding fear and insecurity.
When your friends without kids tell you how to raise yours, forgive them. They know not what they do.
There’s a fine line between behavior that is hilarious and behavior that needs to be corrected. Sometimes, the behavior is BOTH.
Baby books, with their “methods” and “milestones” are The Man’s way of keeping you down. Don’t let The Man keep you down.
The way you were raised may have been successful, but so were covered wagons and horse-drawn carriages. Update accordingly.
You have no idea what your patience or tolerance is until you have a child, and then you learn it quickly. @andrashewitt
The most important words in a dad’s vocabulary: I was wrong. There is power and possibility in humility and vulnerability.
The bottom line is this: If you’re here on this site reading this article, you’re committed to being a better father. We all want to be better dads, the best dads for our kids. We all relish those moments when our children say, “You’re the best dad ever,” even when we joke back, “Well, I’m the only one you’ve got.” And we all struggle with the challenge. We all make mistakes, sometimes bad ones. We aim to do better, and we hope our children will forgive us and not repeat our doozies when they grow up to have their own kids. Hugh Weber is a remarkable man who owns the commitment to improve his parenting performance, while chronicling his steps forward and back along the way. How we view and open the world for our children, how we unlock doors and pave pathways and present possibilities not only shapes their attitudes and outlook but also endows them with the courage, confidence, and commitment to lead extraordinary lives. A father’s most fervent wish is for his children to live their dreams and for those dreams to go beyond his own. Hugh Weber’s Dude to Dad is a shining example of how to make that wish come true.
Photos—Courtesy of Hugh Weber