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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Is Twenty Dollars Enough?

Updated: Jan 24

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy and KIDS FIRST! Daddying Film Festival Co-Director

PHOTO: Cover art for KFDFF Middle School Finalist film "A Letter to My Dad" by Brock Brenner, age 11

Our inaugural Daddying Film Festival readies to announce its first Atticus Award recipients this Saturday, June 18, the day before Fathers’ Day. Each of the 30+ films accepted into the Festival (from submissions that poured in from 17 countries!) was based on a universal theme: “A Letter to My Father/Father Figure.” As this culminating event approaches, I’m reminded of how many of our Festival finalists have highlighted in their films the importance of father presence.

I flashed back to some of the presentations to father groups I’ve been honored to make over the years. For some of them, I began by reading this story that had been shared with me (author unknown):

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy, may I ask you a question?

“Yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.

“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?”

“That’s none of your business,” snapped the man. “What makes you ask such a question?!”

“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.

“If you must know, I make $20 an hour.”

“Oh,” the little boy replied, his head bowed. Looking up he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $10 please?”

The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make was just so you can buy a silly toy, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. And think about why you’re being so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s question. How dare he ask such a question only to get some money.

After about an hour, the man calmed down and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10…and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door. “Are you asleep, son,” he asked.

“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $10 you asked for.”

The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you, daddy!” he yelled.

Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled bills. The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man. “Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.

“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied, “Daddy, I have $20 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?”

As Father’s Day arrives this weekend – and with Mother’s Day recently past – let’s all think about our "$20 moments" and how priceless they truly are to our children. Maybe then we can make better decisions that will not only “pay off” for our kids, but also for ourselves.

We hope you'll continue to enjoy the worldwide film celebration of involved daddying at the virtual KFDFF all week and through Father's Day weekend! Be sure to VOTE for your favorite finalist films through Friday, 6/17, at 11:59 pm EDT, and we hope to see many of you at the Festival Awards ceremony this Saturday, 6/18, from 4-5 pm EDT. If you still need to get your FREE, all-access Festival pass, please visit our Eventive page here:


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.


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