Hello fellow at-home dads, we are back from the 2007 At-Home Dad Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a great event seeing so many committed at home dads there to hone their skills and to interact with their fellow at home dads.
One of the many themes that came from the discussions was that we even though we have the name “at-home dad,” with all the various activities with the kids and such we really aren’t home all that much. This description however, is one that has been used for years and has just stuck. However, the main theme was to spend some time away from our regular duties and recharge by talking about our experiences and attending breakout sessions on a variety of topics to help us do our job better. Some of the sessions convention attendees could sit in on were: Growing Your Playgroup, A hands on session on Braiding Hair, Basic Sewing, Depression and Isolation, Communication in your Marriage, Dads with Daughters, Anger Management, Child Safety, Financial Matters, Estate Planning and Legal Issues, What About Me, and Age group discussions broken out by age group. Other sessions included planning for the next year’s event and anecdotes from our time at home with our kids. It was a great event and one you leave better for attending.
Also presenting this year was Dr. Aaron Rochlen, who did a study on at-home dads last year regarding our lives and masculinity. Dr. Rochlen shared the facts and results of his study and a companion study on how at-home fathers perceive their job. The results were very interesting, and I found it intriguing how similar the answers were from fathers of all types and social strata. Dr. Rochlen’s current research focus is on men in non traditional career and family roles–an area of interest that we can relate with completely.
The main theme and resource the convention provides is to stem the tide of isolation that often accompanies a job like ours. All too often we can get caught in a cycle of a daily routine that does not leave much time for ourselves. It so important to have that “Me” time, a bill that the convention fills nicely. Merely sitting in a room full of other at-home dads sharing their experiences helps immensely. Just making you look at your situation from a different side helps, too. I have found it so refreshing to hear another dad share a concern he may have and find out that it is the same concern I have. That kind of validation is incredibly refreshing and recharging to me, knowing that I’m not alone in my feelings and that other dads are looking for guidance on similar topics as fathers. That kind of help cannot be measured in a meaningful way unless you experience this for yourself.
The other great experience the convention brings is the social activities. In the hospitality suite, dads from all over the US, and even two dads from Canada, can sit around getting to know each other. Dads can share a great meal of KC BBQ, or take in a museum like the Jazz Museum or the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame. Dads get time to do something that interests them and get to speak with other dads and find out about their lives. I can tell you from being at the Meet & Great, sharing a meal with these dads and talking about a wide range of topics helped make it a great time for me. Coming back to the hotel and continuing the discussions over a good cigar at the hospitality suite was just icing on the cake.
Then on Saturday, the day of the convention, we all participated in sessions of interest. It was so gratifying to help facilitate a session on dads with daughters, helping other dads with my experiences with my daughters and knowing that I helped another dad to get a better insight in to his daughter’s life. This is an experience that can truly help me as much as it helped the other dads. Knowing that things I learned, sometimes the hard way, could help other dads was very gratifying.
Also attending the convention this year was our founding father, Peter Steinberg. Peter facilitated a standing room only session on Communication in your Marriage. All of the comments I heard on this session were positive and some even wished there had been two presentations of this session to give more dads a chance to hear Peter’s talk. This shows how just one dad can make a difference in our community. This was Peter’s first convention, but by stepping up and volunteering his time to help other at-home dads, he made a difference, a difference that other at-home dads take home with them, making a real difference in their home lives.
I truly hope that other dads will strongly consider attending a convention in the future. Your next chance will be next year’s convention in Sacramento, CA, which should be a great location to give the dads on the west coast a chance to attend. In 2009, the convention will in the Washington, DC, area and DC Metro Dads and Daddyshome, Inc. will host the convention.
Here’s to all the dads that made this year’s convention great, and to all of the dads who will make future conventions great too!
Mike Stilwell is a founding member of Daddyshome, Inc., and DC Metro Dads.