Life is no longer a 1960’s television show. Back then, dads were the sole bread-winners and had little to do with their children (other than discipline). With more and more women advancing in the workplace, and traditional parenting roles being flipped or mixed, today’s dad is emerging as a jack-of-all trades able to handle multiple duties. The good news is, judging by the “dads” in attendance at the Dad’s 2.0 Summit in New Orleans, today’s generation of men are eager and up to the task.
Twenty years ago, the only way you were going to get 300 guys in a room watching a movie was if it was a Chuck Norris marathon. Well, at Dad’s 2.0 Summit, the presentations were much more substantive than Missing in Action 27. These dad’s care . . . not only about being good parents, but equally on being good spouses. It sounds simple, but it is true: the key to a healthy marriage often starts with eliminating conflict associated with raising children. When parents work together to raise the children and do what they can to help each other, everybody wins. Children should be a blessing – not a wedge – enjoyed by the couple.
One of the most interesting things is the impact of technology on parenting. At Dad’s 2.0, real life problems were addressed – such as parents dealing with cyberbullying, finding the right balance between physical activity as compared to the latest internet game, and making sure to protect children in a world of predators.
Just as important, how about discussions about products . . . and excessive chemicals . . . and education! What is interesting about this “blogger” conference is that even though there was a lot of guidance on being a better blogger – taking better pictures, maximizing search engine optimization, and creating better content – all of those blogging discussions were ultimately designed to empower all dads to become better fathers and to assist others. The whole space was created so Average Joe’s could find other Average Joe’s to navigate the adventure of parenting together.
Yes, a lot of dads and bloggers will tell you they seek out these types of forums for help . . . for support . . . and sometimes, even just to vent and be appeased that other dads are having the same struggles. More positive, though, the forum has become a proactive one where great ideas are shared, where mentoring takes place, and where child successes and accomplishments are celebrated and become inspiring. It is no longer a reactive vibe, where dads that need help seek out answers. Rather, it is dads stepping up to the plate . . . saying they do want to be the best father they can be . . . and joining with other dads on not only being jacks-of-all-trades, but masters of all.
Perhaps the most poignant discussion was titled “Parenting it Forward: Compensating for Our Own Flawed Fathers.” Flawed struck me as an unfair term. Truth is, life was different 30 or 40 years ago. Our dads actually did quite well and, thanks to their sacrifices, generation after generation enjoyed progress. If dads today can take the best parenting qualities of the past, and embrace new techniques to deal with a fast-changing world, then today’s dads will hopefully be able to provide the fundamental thing all parents want to give their children: a life better than their own.
Hundreds of dads paying their way and showing up at a weekend summit about being a better parent is a great start for that goal . . . but there is much, much more to be done.