This weekend I had the pleasure of being at the 22nd Annual National At Home Dad Network Convention for at home dads or HomeDadCon. Dads from all over the world, from the US, Canada and the UK all came out to learn how to be better dads. Breakout sessions included Mental Health, Baby Sign Language, Dads with iPads, Divorced Dads, Homeschooling and many many more. Featured panels about Trailblazing Dads, those that have lead the way for the future at home dads, Teaching kids Consent, Race and more.
More then the beer drinking, breakout sessions, panels is the camaraderie, brotherhood and the lasting friend you meet. These friends, these brothers, are now more then just names on a Facebook group, or threads on Facebook Messenger, they become faces of dads. They become guys that you want in the foxhole of parenting.
Coming to my third HomeDadCon in a row has been an incredible experience. Meeting these awesome fathers for the first time means now I have more fathers that I can call friends. For many fathers that are the primary caregivers for their family experience bouts of depression, loneliness and isolation. Coming to HomeDadCon gives fathers an outlet to have a voice, an opportunity to have friends. The only caveat is that you have to want it.
This year the speakers were amazing. There are so many highlights about the panelists and keynote speakers. The Friday panel from the Network of Executive Women, Proctor and Gamble, Safeway, and Albertsons was wonderful. Hearing their struggles as working women resonated well because my wife works full time and as some of the same struggles.
There was also a wonderful speaker, Glen “Beleaf” Henry, that spoke about race and diversity and bullying.
Dads have a huge responsibility to prepare our kids for life. Schools don’t teach you about bullying and race. #homedadcon @BeleafMel — A Dad Brews (@adadbrews) September 15, 2017
Bullying, race and diversity has to begin with a conversation that we have with out kids. It’s messy and awkward but if you don’t talk with them and bridge the gap, it gives everyone else the place to tell them.
Two of the best Saturday were the Trailblazing Dads panels where we met some older dads who have been at home dads for more then 10+ years. Not only did we meet them, but we also met two dads that had their adult kids with them. Seeing the perspective of their adult children really solidified that those that have younger kids are doing a great job. Being an at home dad the struggle sometimes get me overwhelmed and asking if I’m doing a good job raising my kids.
Seeing adult children of at home dads have successful lives, careers and families. One even said that if it wasn’t for his dads love of playing music he would never have fell in love with music too. We have such a massive influence on our kids. The things we say and do help our kids fundamentally discover who they truly are.
The last speaker was from Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid. Aaron Phillips is an at home dad from Florida, an avid outdoorsman and adventurist. Aaron discussed his 21 days in Belize, butt naked and told us about his struggles leaving his son for almost a month, bot fli
es, and even a monkey that peed on him for 17 of the 21 days. For more information about Aaron Phillips and his journey please visit his Facebook page here
My overall thoughts on the weekend:
- The food was incredible. There was an abundance of food not only in Portland and the surrounding area, but the convention food was incredible. From 100 pounds of bacon and eggs, to Voodoo Doughnuts to all the food for snacks and lunch provided by Plum Organics was on point.
- The beer was decent. For a much more detailed synopsis of the beer scene in Portland be on the lookout for a blog on that.
- The speakers and panelists were great. Lots of experienced dads sharing the triumphs and pitfalls of parenting spoke to me greatly.
- The brotherhood was the biggest draw for me coming to my third convention. The beer and food and speakers are merely avenues to help bring dads together. This is the most important thing about the weekend. Getting together with the dads that I’ve friended but only see about once a year.
If you are struggling with being alone as an at home father, get plugged in to a number of online Facebook groups and threads.
Here are just a couple that you can join. Notice though that these are closed groups and for dads only. All of these groups can be accessed by going to the search bar on Facebook and typing them in.
- National at Home Dad Network Group
- Get off my Lawn
- Daddy Porter Beer Group
- Stay at Home Dad Movie & television Group (SAHD Only)
- At Home Dads Cooking
These are just 5 of some of the groups for at home dads to join. There are also some groups that are secretive groups like dads dealing with Mental Health issues. If you are wanting to join one of those groups, please reach out to me privately or on Facebook if you follow us on Facebook and I can get you connected to the right people. Don’t live life on your own. You are better if you get plugged in.