Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Celebration of Fatherhood at Dad 2.0


It seems like only a short while ago my son was born and I started on the path of fatherhood. At first, I was alone. Many of my friends weren't married yet, let alone had kids and I felt like I didn't really have anyone to talk to about this exciting yet equally scary life style change that had taken place. I did what most people do when they are unsure of things - I began googling. My search eventually led me to some blogs that were written by women, but I never truly felt like they were speaking to the emotions I was experiencing. It wasn't until i stumbled across my first "dad blog" that I realized how valuable this voice in the parenting world was. After reading these dad blogs for a couple weeks, I decided that I would like to put my voice out there for the world to read and reached out to some good guys who welcomed me into their Facebook group, Dad Bloggers, and help me get started and off on the right foot. This was about 2 years ago and within that time frame I have made some incredible friends that I speak to almost daily on Facebook.

The Dad 2.0 Summit was always something I viewed with a sort of passing interest throughout the years. Sure, I wanted to attend, but I just couldn't afford the airfare, ticket, and hotel room for a few days in a city that was across the country. That all changed when it was announced the summit was to be held in DC. Living in Baltimore, MD, the ride down was about an hour and the only thing I had to pay for was a hotel room (thanks to a late addition to the scholarship fund, my ticket was reimbursed!) I'm not the most prolific blogger and anything I put on FatherNerdsBest pales in comparison to some of the other voices out there in the Dad Blogger community, but with a nervous flutter in my stomach and an optimistic mind, I decided to take a chance and attend my first Dad 2.0 Summit.

Upon first arriving, the general feeling I had was utter nervousness. I kept seeing faces I had seen hundreds of times online but having just arrived and waiting for my room to be ready, I was a nervous wreck and didn't approach. It wasn't until someone noticed I had my Dad 2.0 badge on and came up to me when I began to settle in. Their interest in what I wrote about and the sincere conversation we had about how dads are portrayed in the media and why I decided to become a dad blogger was a great ice breaker into the weekend. I have written about dad issues countless times before, but now I was around others who felt the same as I did and equally hold this notion of equal parenting in such high regard. Within minutes of the conversation my nervousness began to drain away as I accepted that I was with my tribe of like-minded dads and I was accepted.

The Dad 2.0 conference is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, I see it as two very important things. The first is that it's a meeting of minds to discuss modern fatherhood as it is portrayed in the media and in everyday life. This conversation takes place with a lot of the big movers and shakers of the entertainment world and has the power to truly initiate change. There were big brand names here like Lego, Dove Men+Care, Kia, Esquire, and Lee (among others). These are brands that see a passion for fatherhood being championed across all corners of the web and are coming out to say that they not only agree, but support our movement. Panels were held to discuss the ever changing role of fatherhood as it corresponds to the workplace (something I'm very passionate about) and how people are fighting the good fight daily  to ensure that parental leave is not only a right but one that is taken without fear of career suicide. Everywhere you looked this weekend, you could see this desire to better oneself as a father but also on a larger scale for all fathers across the world. Fatherhood as a social issue is hot right now, and it was awesome to be at ground zero of one of the most important movements furthering this agenda.

The opening keynote address was done by author Brad Meltzer

The other reason I wanted to attend the conference was to meet all of the fellow dads who I have talked with, shared stories with, and grew as a father with since joining the Dad Bloggers group. There are too many to mention, but I tried to meet as many as I could. Social anxiety kicked in a few times, but the bourbon tasting event and the night and the museum helped to alleviate any introvert issues that may have arisen. It was amazing seeing and talking to these guys whose work I have read and been affected by since having my son. Being able to just sit and talk with people you have been friends with for years, but haven't meant until this event was an awesome experience. Attending a summit to help advance fatherhood is a great reason to attend, but hanging out with your friends and forming relationships in person is a close second.

The weekend festivities seemed to fly by as speakers, breakout sessions, and nightly events drew to a close. As I left the summit, I was exhausted from constantly being on the go, but I was incredibly fortunate to have been given the chance to attend. I was also elated to be welcomed into the City Dads Group family as it was announced that I will be founding the Baltimore City Dads Group in the coming month. I'll have more on that in another post, but I am incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to not only start the group, but meet other local dads while bonding with my son in the process.

Dadslam, where dads could read their favorite posts, was a huge success

The next Dad 2.0 Summit has been announced for San Diego, CA next year in early February and I'm already making plans to attend. The camaraderie and social good that is done for Fatherhood is almost infectious when you're at this event and I can't wait to experience more of it.