Doyin from Daddy Doin’ Work, who I’m pretty sure is my brother from another mother, just went viral this week and was invited to appear on national television morning talk shows. He’s representing what I call a “2KDad”.
I don’t know if me being a “2KDad” is something that happened out of circumstance or if it is just the way I’m wired.
Here’s my very brief background…
I was unemployed (see: self-employed) for almost a full year near the start of my daughter’s life. So I got to be the full time diaper-changing, feeding, burping, lullabying to sleep, on the clock 24/7 Dad we all secretly want to be. It was awesome.
I was then suddenly divorced. The time I spend with her became doubly important as I realized that I was only going to get half of the time I was expecting to (if I was lucky). It was awful.
Then again I was blessed as I landed a job with an insane amount of flexibility that allows me to put the time I do have with her as a priority that I can fulfill and we spend a LOT of time together (see: DaddyDaughterTime).
I get it. Not everyone comes from that certain set of circumstances. But here’s the kicker…
Since founding DDT, I’ve discovered hundreds of Dads that have put the exact same intentional path of parenting into practice. Some have full time jobs and happy wives. Some have hellish court battles and custody fights in front of them. Some are stepdads surrounded by a blended all-girl family. All of us have the same passion. We want to play a vital role in the lives of our daughters.
I call us the 2KDads because we aren’t our fathers’ father. We’re the guys who no longer want to be pigeonholed into the “policeman with a paycheck” role in the home. We want to play an equally active part in nurturing our children, especially in the father/daughter relationship.
There are more of us than you realize. You may have come across one of us recently. We’re popping up in daycare facilities, gym and dance classes, even nail salons. (Not to mention the Today Show).
Here’s what you don’t know about us…
We realize our worth. We’ve done the research and know how important the relationship with our daughters is. Remember the equal rights movement for women in the workplace? Flip that and think about this as a “Dads in the Domicile” movement. Lately I’ve been into reading about the importance of paternity leaves on the Fathers, Work, and Family blog.
We are getting more organized. With the Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans later this month, more and more “dadvocates” and dad bloggers are gathering to meet with advertisers who see them as a valuable segment to market their goods. There’s more than one way to steer society’s slow turning ship towards the recognition of fathers as caregivers. Who knows? Maybe Dove, Honda, Kraft and other companies will be the avenue that gets the message through.
We can braid hair. While it’s true that we haven’t been doing it to our own hair since the age of six, we have been running the 3-man weave in basketball practice since that age and understand the concept. And here’s the real secret: We love it. (See: The Big Braid).
We can talk to our girls about their private parts. We’re mature enough to use the word vulva just as easily as the word penis. That’s not to say that if an adult female role model is in the household we won’t defer to someone with a working knowledge of the moving parts. It is to say that we aren’t scared of using anatomically correct words for fear of snickering like a schoolboy.
We aren’t a novelty act. If you overheard someone say “Oh, what a great Dad you are for being here with your kids,” they were probably talking to one of us. We politely smiled and accepted their compliment while wondering how condescending it would sound if we said the same thing to them. We “have a dream” that one day a picture of a man brushing his daughter’s hair won’t be so astonishing that it goes viral on social media. The good news: Stats are showing that it is already (slowly) happening. Click here if you like cool infographics.
We want to talk about the same things Moms are talking about. Yes, we want to talk about our daughter’s social behavior, eating habits, potty training tips, and even where you got her that incredibly adorable blouse because we want to get one for our girl too. We may draw the line at an update on the latest episode of “Scandal” but that’s just me.
We are still manly. Don’t be confused. If you see one of us painting our daughter’s fingernails or hear us asking where you got her those awesome jeggings, it doesn’t mean we don’t love hunting, fishing, and sports. As a matter of fact, we want to take our daughters hunting, fishing, and to the game if they are down with that. Pink camouflage is flippin’ adorable.
We know we aren’t perfect. Sure it feels good to be doing more than what society may be expecting from a Dad (frankly, we’d like society to catch up to the fact that what we’re doing isn’t all that strange.) But just because we are more involved and are intentionally parenting our daughters, doesn’t mean we don’t screw up like any other parent. There are some highly entertaining play-by-play examples of this. Personally, I like the Ask Your Dad blog. It’s hilarious.
We aren’t well represented in court. While the stats show that if a man will actually “dad up” and fight for custody of his daughters (or sons) he has a much better chance of getting it, the odds are still stacked against him. A 2KDad has a battle on his hands as the stereotype caused by decades of neglect or apathy from previous generations has created a tough hill to climb.
We want to leave a legacy. Most of us can’t go to our fathers as a reference point on how to be a more active and involved Dad. But we can become that reference point for the next generation of Dads after us. While many males still place all of their worth on what capitalistic gains they amass, there are those of us who are putting their emphasis on a different “investment plan”…namely one that includes a small human that wants a ‘rainbow ring that glows in the dark’ for Christmas.
While the bigger picture of what a father is and how involved he should be is evolving, I’ll keep doing what I love to do – spending time with my daughter and helping other Dads do the same with theirs.
When it comes down to it, time is the most valuable commodity any parent can have. More time means more memories, more mistakes and time to fix them, more chill time, play time, or time to simply watch her sleep while I imagine her future and all that she will become.