It's good to be back in rainy Wilmington with my family, although I had a blast this weekend at the 15th Annual At-Home Dad Convention sponsored by Daddyshome, Inc. I believe the official number of attendees was 45, just about what it was last year. That is a very small percentage of the number of at-home dads in the U.S., which is anywhere from 158,000 to 2 million depending on who does the research! RebelDad, who spoke at the convention, does a great job of examining the available statistics.
Saturday, October 2, was a busy day: 2 featured speakers and 4 break-out sessions over a (roughly) 8 hour period. The day started with the first speaker, Dr. Frank E. Bowers, psychologist, discussing "The Most Important Job in the World" (parenting) and his 10 concepts to help us become the most successful parents we can be. My first break-out session was an age-based open forum, "Is it just my kid?", for parents with children between the ages of 0 months and 18 months. We had a great discussion about the challenges we face with our children, e.g., separation anxiety, and possible solutions to the problems. The second break-out I attended was "Parenting with Confidence," with therapist Erin Cox. I learned about setting goals for myself as a parent, role modeling, and effectively meeting my children's needs.
After a much needed lunch break, the afternoon featured speaker was Brian Reid (see RebelDad above) followed by the Daddyshome, Inc., Annual Meeting. The third session I chose to attend was "Achieving a Successful At-Home Dad's Group," facilitated by Lance Somerfeld and Matt Schneider of NYC Dads Group. Over the past 2 years, Lance and Matt have built a fantastic, active group of over 250 dads, and I hope to develop a group in Wilmington and the surrounding area using what I learned from them. Finally, I attended a workshop called "Quick and Easy Hairstyling" for dads with daughters, facilitated by Mike Njus, veteran hairstylist. I thought I had this one in the bag. I guess I'm out of practice since I haven't played with my sisters' heads of hair for 20 years! We practiced "quick and easy" styles on mannequin heads with long, human hair. And, yes, it was a bit creepy. However, I learned a lot and even won a book called Does Your Daughter Have Dad Hair?, by Craig Lawrey!
For being a newcomer to the convention, I received a copy of Hogan Hilling and Jesse Jayne Rutherford's The Modern Mom's Guide to Dads. I read the book on the plane on Sunday. Even though it is written mostly for moms, I would recommend it to dads as well. It helped me to reflect on the time leading up to the birth of my children and also on the 15 months since my kids were born.
The convention left me energized and ready to attack the next 12 months (the next convention is October 8, 2011, in Washington, D. C.). I made lots of friends and learned so much from them. I am eternally grateful and lucky to be a dad.