How To Make A Lifelong Daddying Connection In Less Time Than An Uber Ride
By Allan Shedlin
Grampsy and Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group
My Uber driver, Mohammed, flipped down the sun visor of his Ford Focus so he could show me the photo of his three-year-old daughter. Above the protective mask, he was wearing I could see his eyes smile as he stated, "She means everything to me!"
My ride with Mohammed was only slightly longer than 5 miles – not more than 15 minutes in duration. In that brief time, he told me of his interest in urban agriculture before he asked me what I did for a living. Not shy about talking about my work with fathers to help them become the dads they want to be, he was mainly silent, politely listening to me ramble.
But when he did get a word in, his questions conveyed a sense that he was intrigued. I could see he was becoming “tenderized” as I spoke briefly about my experiences with dads in penitentiaries, Native American pueblos, military veterans groups, Head Start Centers, organizations, including the World Bank and others, as well as the nearly 200 one-on-one, in-depth daddying interviews I've conducted with fathers and grandfathers from 20 different countries. I shared my hypothesis that "daddying is the great equalizer."
And then his reaction was like most of the others I’ve worked and/or spoken with during the past quarter-century – somewhat like giving him "permission" to indulge himself in sharing his loving feelings.
Like so many other men, he seemed initially surprised by my candor in talking about men’s feelings about being dads. And then his reaction was like most of the others I’ve worked and/or spoken with during the past quarter-century – somewhat like giving him "permission" to indulge himself in sharing his loving feelings. It was as if a finger had been removed from an emotional dike within him, and he wanted to continue sharing his feelings. Unfortunately, time would not allow it.
As I exited his car, he said, "Here is my phone number – please call me if you ever need somebody to volunteer with your programs."
As I took the few steps to my destination I realized, as I had so many times before, that there was something sacred about the time we had spent together. It was time that allowed him to be in touch with his profound loving feelings and share them with another person. It was time to open his heart and to be vulnerable.
What a gift for both of us.
Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and 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 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 the most important “degree” of all.