This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and speak at the Dad 2.0 Summit. It was a gathering of bloggers, brands, media, and authors interested in changing the perception of dad as buffoon to dad as valued parent. I had no idea that there were so many dads from a wide variety of backgrounds passionate about raising their kids and making the world a better place.
I was especially surprised to meet the most inspiring Dad 2.0 on my ride from the airport to the conference. One of the sponsors of the event was Honda and they provided attendees with free rides from the airport to the hotel. James provided my ride and my inspiration was provided by his story.
I am not sure how we got on the subject but the entire trip from the airport was spent talking about life and fatherhood. James’ story was like many I have heard before. He described his father as physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. His father was powerful and never let anyone disrespect his name. Living in one of the toughest neighborhoods in town James quickly figured out what it took to be safe. He discovered that if he intimidated people they would join him rather than fight him. After being kicked out of his house at a very young age he started down a self-destructive path. He met a girl, broke the law, and ended up in jail.
“I always knew I wanted to do it differently.” James said. He inherently knew that hitting, yelling, and aggression were not the best way, but he struggled to find other approaches. As he fought to free himself from prison that girl he met remained committed. When he was finally released he set his sights on making life for his children different.
James told me more stories of how he raised his kids differently. He described himself as strict but loving. He told me about the long hours he worked to establish his own business. He beamed with pride as he shared about the accomplishments of his daughter. We joked about his desire to have another child so his family name could live on.
This original Dad 2.0 inspired me. He did not have a model of positive fatherhood. He had made some serious mistakes. Had he given up his kids would have added to the statistics about fatherless children. But, he was committed to doing it differently. He was not going to let his negative experiences and decisions forever impact the lives of his descendants.
James is what Dad 2.0 is all about. It is about breaking the cycle of fatherlessness, disengagement, and hurt. It is about dads being vulnerable, taking emotional risks, and leading families despite the hard times. Dad 2.0 is about supporting one another, encouraging one another, and challenging one another to raise the bar. Fathers that “babysit” the kids are no longer good enough. This world needs fathers that are committed to doing it differently while being actively involved with the next generation