As Father's Day draws closer, my email inbox has been overflowing with one ad or pitch after another, with each one urging me to try the latest novelty grilling apron, lithium-ion battery power tool, auto/truck accessory, sporting good or -- gasp -- yet another whimsical tie. After deleting the 20th email or so, I started to realize how, over the last 20 years of my tenure as a father, very little has changed with regard to Father's Day, the impact of stereotypes on fathers and the relationships we have with our families.
In my upcoming book, The Dadly Way: 10 Steps to More Active Fatherhood and Equal Parenting, I, along with my co-author, Hogan Hilling, examine how today's assumptions about dads and fatherhood emerged to become the pervasive, rarely-changing stereotypes that keep being repeated, bought into and pushed. These include the classic "bumbling dad" as seen in the characters of Homer Simpson or Ray Romano; the emotional island dad who closes off his emotions from the world and the physically-present-but-otherwise-absent dad who is so distracted by his other roles as provider or protector that he cannot be bothered to spend meaningful time with his family.
From this point, we take a myth-busting approach to these stereotypes and assumptions, showing that far more fathers in America today are present and available for their families. Many simply haven't been taught how to make themselves emotionally available, or they have been taught by their upbringing and the media to close themselves off, since vulnerability is portrayed as a weakness. This is where we begin our mission to rebrand the image of the modern father.
To do this, we explore the damaging effects of the ego, how to become a more active participant in our family's lives -- from school to doctor's offices to life at home -- as a means to create more father-friendly environments that are conducive to greater equality in parenting. We advocate for calling a truce to the parenting wars -- including martyrdom, shaming and competition -- to be the greatest parent on the face of the planet, and why do we do this?
Because our children are watching.
The examples we set today become the parenting approaches of tomorrow. It is time for us to become more mindful in our approach to families so that we may carve out the best possible future for our children, as well as their children. To do so, we must parent with presence, on purpose, today.
While this book will not be ready in time for Father's Day, it is slated for release later this year, around October. Between now and then, join Hogan and I for further information about the book, as well as how we can all take steps to adopt The Dadly Way in our own lives!
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