“Really, there is a national dads’ convention? What do you guys do? That’s great!”
Initial surprise, curiosity, then positive feedback, is the response when I tell someone, often a mom at school or in a park, where I was the last weekend in September. Yes, there really is a dads’ convention. I was one of 145 dads from across the country that traveled to Raleigh, NC for the 20th Annual At-Home-Dads Convention. These dads attend on their own dime because they are absolutely passionate about being the best dads that they can be.
Jeffrey with his boys, Julian and Vincent.
The convention included CPR training, sessions on tips and tricks for successfully raising children (by age group), a workshop on creating a local at-home dads group, a panel discussion providing dads with honest feedback from wives about being the spouse of an at-home dad, and a child car seat installation competition that even netted a few lucky winners (author included) a new car seat!
That description, however, misses the true value of a full weekend of acknowledgement and celebration for being an at-home dad in a society that often makes at-home dads feel like outsiders or underachievers. This validation, though needed by some dads more than others, is powerful to all of us who attend, and is what makes the convention so special. We form instant bonds, feeling, sometimes for the first time, that we are not alone in our choice to be home, and that what we are doing really matters. We share things we have never shared, often because we didn’t have anyone to share them with, or simply, never had time to consider our experience while feeding, diapering, playing, and of course, not sleeping enough. The wealth of information learned, deep bonding and friendships formed, and powerful acknowledgement all make participation by at-home dads a no-brainer.
I am fortunate and very grateful to have a very supportive wife, and to live in a supportive community (very different than in many parts of the country) that almost always responds positively to my being an at-home dad and welcomes my participation in playgroups and activities.
This is particularly true at SSDS where I have been pleasantly surprised by degree of involvement of dads, both working and at-home dads. And yet with all of this support at home, the affirmation and love at the convention are powerful enough for me to have followed it to Denver for two years after attending it in DC in 2012, and most recently to Raleigh.
Being at home with Vincent and Julian has deepened my appreciation for the level of commitment of all moms and dads, but especially for those who are able and choose to be at home. If you are an at-home dad full or part time, join me in Raleigh for next year’s convention. It will be the best gift you can give yourself and your family.
By Jeffrey Taggart, Dad to Vincent (Ms. Veronica’s 4’s), and Julian (19 months)
SAVE THE DATE!
DAD’S NIGHT OUT is THURS NOV 12, 7:30PM
at McGinty’s, downtown Silver Spring