Armor Down/Daddy Up!™
The Armor Down/Daddy Up! (AD/DU!) program is designed to assist veterans and active-duty warriors with reentering their families in the most productive and rewarding ways possible. It is also designed to be of value to others who have been impacted by trauma-related experiences.
AD/DU! was created by:
Ben King, an Iraq War veteran, and Purple Heart recipient who has helped hundreds of veterans “armor down” with mindfulness, meditation, and yoga practices; and
Allan Shedlin, a veteran educator, longtime parenting coach, and writer who applies what he’s learned from his nearly three decades of daddying research with fathers, grandfathers, and children from 20 countries; his own experiences as a son, grandson, father, and grandfather; his five decades as an educator; and his years of conducting daddying workshops in a variety of settings.
Ben King leading an AD/DU! workshop activity in Richmond, VA, October 2019
Ben is the father of two young children, and Allan is the father of three adult children and 5 grandchildren, as well as the “bonus” father and grandfather of many. Both Allan and Ben have experienced the challenges of parenting and the joys and rewards when parenting is satisfying. They share the conviction that almost everybody can become the parent they want to be if they are committed to trying.
AD/DU! is a program informed by a year of piloting with Wounded Warrior Project veterans in the greater Richmond, VA, area. The program's in-person and Zoom online workshops assist veterans in armoring down from their military experiences and teach them specific parenting skills to enable them to become the parents THEY want to be. The guiding AD/DU! philosophy is that when parenting is satisfying, it can help mitigate the negative consequences often associated with the realities of deployment and its aftermath.
Popular media often depict the heart-warming, joyful reunions of returning veterans surprising their children and loved ones. But that is Day #1. Day #2, and all that follow, are rarely given the same attention.
For so many veterans, their physical return home from combat precedes their psychological and emotional return. The traumatic baggage that accompanies them home can weigh heavily on their relationships for years to come. The days/daze that follow/s reentry are often influenced by what occurs when the consequences of deployment come face-to-face with the everyday realities and demands of parenting.
They must transition from one “call to arms” to a totally different one...
AD/DU! workshop in Richmond, VA
AD/DU! acknowledges that parenting does not exist in a vacuum. It is influenced and impacted by an array of past and present circumstances. There is little doubt, and much research to support, that the experiences of deployment have a profound and lasting impact on the abilities and skills needed for veterans to become the parents THEY want to be.
Because parenting occurs in a dynamic social context known as family, AD/DU! is a dynamic interaction between a father and his child(ren). The Program works directly with both groups. And because research shows the value and benefits of the support of others who are experiencing similar adjustment, AD/DU! builds in opportunities for warrior dads to create a support group, a “band of warrior dad brothers.”
In addition to utilizing proven mindfulness/meditation/yoga exercises/techniques/practices, AD/DU! has developed and field-tested the Daddying Qualities Worksheet™ to assist dads and their children in identifying specific qualities necessary to help kids feel safe, loved, and happy. Once the dads and kids have determined which skills and competencies are most important to them, they can use the worksheet as a tool to develop a daddying plan. Of course, by comparing and discussing how the dads and the kids rank the importance of these qualities, they will gain a broader and deeper understanding of each other’s parenting priorities.
As AD/DU! evolves and is enhanced by real-time experiences with veterans and their children, it also will be strengthened by the ongoing involvement of two psychologists with expertise in PTSD.
AD/DU! kids having fun with the meditation cushions they made with dad.