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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Celebrating A Daddying Bicentennial

Updated: Jan 29

By Daddying Film Festival & Forum Founder Allan Shedlin and Daddying Editor Scott Beller


Today’s Daddying post is our 200th!


This bicentennial milestone is a bright, neon marker on the road my colleague and Daddying blog editor Scott Beller and I have been traveling together for more than two decades. On that journey, our mission has been to focus attention on the importance of father and father figure involvement and recognize the positive and negative consequences when daddying is rewarding and when it is disappointing. The blog also has provided a broad diversity of authors with an opportunity to express their feelings in poetry and prose as they have reflected on the joys, pain, and challenges of fundamentally important relationships.


Coming to this milestone after nearly four years, publishing weekly, provides us an opportunity to survey where we have been and to look down the road a piece.


We've come a long way...and have so much further to go

As an amalgam, Scott and our guest authors – we've had 73 guest posts! – have essentially echoed what I've learned during my decades of conducting individual interviews with 205 fathers from 20 different countries and 162 youths in 28 focus groups from three countries. I have written about the essentials in various prior blogs, which can be consulted by anyone interested.


But what has changed since that initial blog on February 19, 2020, is the increased attention to and recognition of the importance of daddy involvement. This recognition has been evolutionary, not revolutionary. It has been incremental. It has been apparent in the increased portrayal in the media of dads as tender, sensitive, and vulnerable – not just buffoons and relegated to roles as breadwinners. This has been apparent in popular cultural outlets like movies and television, but also in the proliferation of podcasts where men speak from their hearts.


And there seems to be greater recognition that thinking about daddying or fatherhood in isolation is folly, because it doesn’t occur in isolation. Daddying takes place within a social context that has a direct influence on how fathers and father figures go about their relationships – what encourages them and what discourages them. So, I have come to think about the ecology of daddying.

Daddying takes place within a social context that has a direct influence on how fathers and father figures go about their relationships – what encourages them and what discourages them. So, I have come to think about the ecology of daddying.

The authors of our blog posts, as well as the films that have been submitted to our Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) from around the world, have increased my awareness of the various ways daddying is practiced – the ways it is influenced and the ways it influences those within its orbit; the forces that shape it and those who are shaped by its forces. I continue to learn, thanks to our various blog authors, that the relationships we have with our fathers and father figures are a primary, fundamental determinant of who we are.


My daughters and I way back when

That has always been the case and it always will be.


And so, as we look ahead, we will continue to provide opportunities for reflection about the kind of parent we want to be, the commitment we want to make, and provide some clues and encouragement about helpful ways to arrive at our desired destination. We will do that through this blog and, more recently, through the medium of film/video and our Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F).


One final thing I'd like to note before handing off this post to Scott. The idea for this blog was his, and I reluctantly agreed because I was concerned about committing to writing so regularly. But, just as I learned conducting my daddying interviews, once the dads got started talking it was as if they had removed their fingers from an emotional dike and they were flooded by things they wanted to share. So, thank you, Scott, for encouraging so many of us to pull that plug and let our daddying thoughts flow. And thanks for your steadfast friendship, editing all 200 blogs, and being an amazing dad.


Allan


* * *


Early on, I wanted to be a sports writer. A columnist like the great Thomas Boswell at the Washington Post, who wrote, among other things, How Life Imitates the World Series. But of course, like the World Series, life takes many twists and often doesn't turn out like you planned. Especially, when the plan is rather vague and without the benefit of insight or guidance from others. Like your parents.


Soon after I arrived at the University of Missouri-Columbia my freshman year, and 18 months before I'd even be allowed to apply to its renowned journalism school, I ditched my original goal of "becoming a sports writer." I transferred to Virginia Tech, entered the Communications Studies program, and set my sights on finding a job – any job – that would allow me to write about anything...and everything.


And so, after a year working in a warehouse, post-graduation, I did. I entered the wild and wacky world of public affairs as an unpaid intern for a top-10 PR agency. With the help of my first boss, Chino, who did me the favor of treating me like an adult with some talent rather than a kid with zero experience, I wrote about immigration and diversity issues, video game ratings, youth physical fitness standards, biotech, and the dairy industry. No pay, no benefits, but I did get to write about anything and everything.


As my agency career progressed, I was exposed to many more industries, issues, and clients. The ones that appealed to me most were those that actually helped improve people's lives in some way. Those that positively impacted people and not just a corporate bottom line.


Once I left agencies and had more control over the clients I chose, altruism became my main motivation. It's no coincidence that Allan and I began working together immediately after that. We found each other at just the right time and place. Two writers, both transitioning into new career phases, with a lot of important things to say about important parenting issues, and needing a platform from which to launch it out into a world that still viewed dads simply as "babysitters," aka, mom's less competent understudy.


Daddying commentaries, op-eds, press releases, media pitches, book and campaign ideas, and website iterations for an organization that morphed into the DADvocacy Consulting Group followed. After 17 years working with Allan, finally launching a weekly Daddying blog in 2020 was just...a no-brainer. The pandemic gave us both more time to focus on what was important.

These three are everything

And to write about it all, the big and the small.


As I wrote here recently, Daddying was never supposed to be strictly a "how-to" parenting resource. We wanted to build a communal place where dads, granddads, father figures, and even moms could feel like they are not alone in their challenges, joys, or anxieties. Where they may gain some inspiration to become the dads/parents they want to be.


As both a writer and editor, I've personally found solace here in this virtual refuge. I know I have benefited from working through issues, both past and present, while developing stories for the blog. I've also become more mindful in the way I approach my responsibilities as a parent. I'm not always as "successful" as I'd like to be, but I hope my kids gain some long-term benefit from the well-intentioned efforts of their dad.


I hope our Daddying blog readers continue to find it a communal space. I certainly have. It's given me the invaluable opportunity to collaborate with people I know and respect, all of us working toward a common purpose of celebrating the hard work, commitment, and rewards of being an involved parent, including my former boss/author Joe Gleason; musician and Roy R. Neuberger Award winner Justin Roberts, whose music literally carried me through my girls' toddler years; and my friend actor/writer Dan Deluca, who I met when interviewing him for a local publication.


Finally, I want to thank my good friend Allan for giving me free reign to regularly write about what's been most important to me for the past four years, which is my relationship with my kids, my wife Elisabeth, and family. You've helped me reach my goal. Because they are everything.


Scott


* * *


Poster Designed by Michael Duggan


Call for Entries for the 3rd Annual Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) is LIVE! Check out the D3F website for more details, submission guidelines, and Atticus Award-winning examples from previous years. Students (1st grade through undergrads), Dads/Dad figures, and other indie filmmakers also can head directly to D3F's FilmFreeway page to submit films/videos celebrating the importance of having or being an involved Dad or Dad figure.


Early-bird submission deadline is February 5th!

Regular deadline is March 4th

Daddy on!


 

Allan Shedlin has devoted his life's work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019, he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He has conducted daddying workshops in such diverse settings as Native American pueblos, veterans groups, nursery schools, penitentiaries, Head Start centers, corporate boardrooms, and various elementary schools, signifying the widespread interest in men in becoming the best possible dad. In 2022, Allan founded and co-directed the Daddying Film Festival & Forum to enable students, dads, and other indie filmmakers to use film as a vehicle to communicate the importance of fathers or father figures in each others' lives. Allan earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA, at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D and GRAND D-A-D the most important “degrees” of all.


Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, imperfect husband of a rock-star mom, truth teller, former soccer coach and current equipment hauler, part-time driving instructor, photobomber, purveyor of banned books, Editor of the Daddying blog, and Director of Communications for DCG and D3F. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 30 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.

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