Last year I spent an afternoon at the At-Home Dads Convention and enjoyed the chance to meet a number of passionate dads who had opted to stay home and raise their children while their wives focused on careers and bringing home the proverbial bacon. A role reversal from the traditional male/female roles in a family, for sure.
This year when the 19th Annual At-Home Dads Convention was again going to be in Denver, I proposed a talk about online and Internet safety and put the convention on my calendar. I’m not really an “at-home dad” but I do work out of my house. The difference? I don’t have a partner who is in the workforce, earning money to help fund our family. If I don’t earn it, the money doesn’t come into the bank and we end up in a tough spot. I wouldn’t mind having someone else in my life who brought revenue into the family, though. Not one bit. But that’s another story entirely!
I was pleased when my session was approved and decided that unlike last time, this year I was going to really be more involved in the events and activities, starting with a great Dad’s Night Out at Coors Field for what turned out to be a yawner of a baseball game: tail end of a losing season, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks. With a stadium only about 30% full, clearly no-one expected an exciting game. The fun, of course, is the people and we did have a good time hanging out and talking about sports, though I couldn’t find another soccer fan in the bunch.
The standard greeting questions for this group of men was definitely “where you from?” followed immediately by “how old are your kids?” which I found really cool. Almost always men seem to size each other up with questions about work and careers, not family. It was very nice to be around such enthusiastic — and funny! — dads where we could share horror stories, um, err, sweet anecdotes about our children and bond over the shared challenge of parenting.
The next day was the first real day of the event and unlike other conferences I attend, AHDC has a lot of organizational time allocated as part of the conference schedule, including multiple open board meetings, board elections and even an open breakfast with the board too. Nice, but I can’t help wonder if there weren’t more possible panels, talks or roundtable discussions we could have been having during some of that time.
Evening cocktails were sponsored by Dove Men+Care, at the Metro State hospitality teaching facility. My classrooms in college never had alcohol quite so accessible! There was a rather odd juxtaposition of appetizers, wine and beer, and bars of Dove soap on the tables. Then again, with 100+ guys in a room, maybe the soap’s fragrance was a benefit. 🙂
I have to say that there are a couple of big brands who have really stepped up and are staunch supporters of the men’s events I’m involved with nowadays, and that’s really terrific. Dove Men+Care is top of this list and they’re a big supporter of both the At-Home Dads Convention and the Dad 2.0 Summit. Huggies was the primary sponsor of the At-Home Dads Convention, though they were oddly not much of a presence at the conference itself, nor were there any giveaways or even samples of diapers for those dads who have little ones back home. Not sure what that’s all about.
Saturday was the big day and it was really great. Four sessions with four different talks per time slot, with topics ranging from a discussion about raising teens (a great talk led by Carl Wilke) to Money and the Family (led by Jessica DeGroot. Yes, women attended this event too) to my own very well attended talk on Online Safety. The last session I went to was about blogging (led by the inimitable Doug French), though most everyone was at the Marriage open discussion (which I didn’t attend because, well, I ain’t got nuthin’ to talk about).
The evening ended with a great dinner at the Denver Chophouse. First steak I’ve had in years, actually, and quite tasty. The company, however, was definitely better and I really enjoyed a few days of meeting and talking with so many men who are passionate about changing the world, one household at a time. We’re not all great superdads and just about every guy had stories about parenting gone horribly wrong, but everyone’s passionate about their children and about living the best possible configuration for their own family rather than marching in lockstep to the cultural expectation of mom being at home as the nurturing parent while dad goes off to work.
Every two years the At-Home Dad Convention jumps location and this marks the end of its two year run in Denver. Next year it’ll be in Durham, North Carolina. And I just might show up again… it’s that good a group! If you’re an at-home Dad (or your husband is), definitely check out the At-Home Dad Network.