With 2018 in its final throes, let’s reflect on what has been City Dads Group’s most successful year to date.
We expanded to 37 cities, including our first venture across the U.S. border with a chapter in Toronto, Canada (more on that in the new year).
Our membership numbers are approaching 13,000, and getting more active every day.
Our chapters and members have participated in several campaigns — local and national, for fun and for a cause. We have had great partners such as Dove Men+Care, Plum Organics, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and GOOD+ Foundation who understand and support the important role fathers play in the lives not only of their children but other people’s children, now and in the future.
And then there is the City Dads Group website. I have the honor of watching over it in an effort to bring you entertaining and informative content about our work and our fathers’ efforts to navigate the joy, heartache and frustrations of modern parenting. We had some great reads in 2018 and I’d like to reacquaint (or introduce) you to some of them.
Favorites from the usual suspects
It all starts with columnist Whit Honea. In fact, I’m increasingly of mind that ALL dad blogging starts with Whit but the paternity test is still pending. I’ve known Whit for a decade but even before that he was (and still is) crafting poignant and poetic work about his boys, his life and what it being a father is. This is why his June column, “The Window of Childhood Doesn’t Need Cleaning,” resonated with so many:
I admit that, in terms of monitoring milestones … I have been focusing on 2019. It is next year when the younger becomes a teen in his own right and the older is able to drive and, in theory, seek gainful employment. …
Then it hit me. Those things will happen next year, and all that comes with them, but the impact is in the now, not the waiting. Specifically, if my oldest son is driving (and possibly working) next summer, then this is the last summer of his always being here, lanky and lazy, stretched across the couch without worry or agenda. This is the last summer of the status quo and our comfort with it. The window is always closing, and the question becomes this: Do we see the world through the opening or the stained pane sliding slowly across it?
I’ve come to see to columnist Vincent O’Keefe as my wiser, mustache-wearing doppelgänger. We both sent our first-born daughters to college in the Boston area this past fall and it was eerie how similar his experience was to mine. I also love his sneaky dad humor when tackling serious subjects like in his March column, “Raising Teen Daughters, Defining Boundaries in the #MeToo Era“:
The issue of consent is especially tricky for girls when it comes to romantic relationships. Popular culture romanticizes a borderless self. All those “I’m Nothing Without You” songs make me wretch because they foster dangerous self-talk, particularly for girls. No one’s self-worth should depend on another person. Much to my daughters’ chagrin, when we hear pop love songs together I often voice semi-humorous objections. In a recent example, Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” asked “What are you waiting for?” I hollered: “Consent! He should be waiting for clear consent.” Cue my daughters’ eyerolls, but at least they’ll remember the advice.
Although he writes less frequently these days, Seth Taylor continues to offer an important voice for gay fathers, such as reassessing himself while reviewing the Queer Eye reboot on Netflix. His most touching pieces look at his relationship with his teenage daughter, such as his September column, “Introversion in Teen Children Has Upsides for Future”:
She has friends, but prefers them at arm’s length much of the time. She doesn’t do the deep sharing thing easily with others. The close friends she does have, she cares for deeply.
She’s a good listener with tremendous intuitive skills. She pays attention. Nothing gets by her. When I’m feeling sad or upset, she will notice and ask what’s wrong. And because she’s so intuitive, I can’t get away with the classic parental deflection answer: “Oh, I’m just a little tired.” She sees right through that.
Life from all angles
Andrew Knott brought the funny several times in 2018, but his initial piece on the impact of recent mass murders on his life in Orlando (“The Vanishing Illusion of Safety in Wake of Yet Another School Shooting“) hit our readers the hardest.
Two of our City Dads Group organizers offered notable contributions, one aimed at a longtime at-home dad nemesis and another at an increasingly visible segment of the population:
- Chris Brandenberg of Twin Cities Dads Group took on those women who only think the worst when they spot a father at the local tot lot with a kid in May’s “Playground Dads Deserve Understanding, Respect — not Suspicion.”
- Robbie Samuels of our Boston Dads Group drew on his own experience as a transgender dad to help others understand the modern complexity of gender in August’s ‘”Oh, He’s a Girl.’ Talking to Kids About Gender Experience, Identity.“
Faith is topic that stirs the passion, for and against, in our readers. Bill Peebles may occasionally question his own but his writing talent on the subject is never in question as in his September 2018 offering, “Church: Family Routine, Rut or Foundation for a Beautiful Future.”
Tobin Walsh reflects uniquely on race, writing about returning from a visit from his adopted son’s African homeland in “Black Son Helps White Dad Reflect on Being Minority in Other’s Homeland.”
Finally, Shannon Carpenter of our Kansas City Dads Group shows why he is one of the funniest dads on the internet with his venture into carny life, “In the Hair Chalk Game, the Carnival’s King is a Bald Dad.”
Hear this: Modern Dads Podcast 2018
For those who prefer to read with their ears, the Modern Dads Podcast didn’t disappoint in 2018. Feedspot, a leading social feed reader service, agreed — placing our podcast among its list of 25 parenting podcasts “You Must Subscribe and Listen to in 2018.”
(For those of you wondering where the podcast has been, don’t worry. We’re planning new eps for 2019. Stay tuned!)
Two topical episodes proved to be among our listeners faves:
- “Dads of Daughters, Put Down Your Guns” was recorded in May 2018 after internet jokes about dads threatening their daughters’ boyfriends hit a new low when former NFL kicker Jay Feely took a photo of him holding a gun by his side as he wished his daughter and her date a good time at prom. This podcast features three of our favorite dads with daughters offering different perspectives.
- “On #MeToo” featured two powerful voices from the blogging world, Karen Walrond and Mike Reynolds, in April 2018 giving their perspective on how we, as parents, can best prepare our children for a new — and more equitable — world.
Can parenting and happiness co-exist? Yes, says KJ Dell’Antonia, the former editor the New York Times’ section formerly known as Motherlode (it’s now Well Family — progress for fathers!). We discussed her new book, How to be a Happier Parent, in light of so many moms and dads being stressed under the weight of providing and protecting during the supposedly happiest time of their lives.
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