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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

The Ecology of Daddying

Updated: Jun 13

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy and Founder, Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F)

PHOTO: sarayut_sy on AdobeStock

With our third annual Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) “in the can,” so-to-speak, and with Fathers’ Day upon us, I take the liberty in this week’s blog to offer a perspective on parenting that gets basically no attention.

Having coined the term/gerund daddying 30 years ago, I’ve spent much time reminding people that daddying does not occur in a vacuum. It occurs within both a micro and macro social context. The micro is known as family; the macro is the broader community and culture.

Although I have written before about the need for dads to create a lodestar to guide their daddying, to think and act intentionally about the dad they want to be, it is also necessary to be aware that once such a path may be established, it is rarely a straight line. There are so many forces within the family – all the other players and family members who can influence daily daddying – that it is sometimes a challenge to stay true to that lodestar.

Likewise, during a time when gender roles and expectations are more fluid than they have been in our individual and collective memories, that daddying path we have selected might cause us to question or reconsider our route. With so many situations and forces, both local and worldwide, beyond our individual control, it makes those within our control ever more important.

In my workshops, “Becoming the Dad YOU Want to Be,” I invite the participant dads to decide “Who is the dad you want to be?” If one can answer that question, one can better set their daddying lodestar. But I've learned that question is basically intimidating, if not incapacitating, in its scope. And so, I have rephrased it so it is more manageable and more pointedly and appropriately directs the perspective. The new way I ask it is:


Answering that question might be the best Fathers’ Day gift you can give yourself and your daughter or son. It will last a lot longer than a tie, drill, barbecue tools, or tickets to a sports event. If you find yourself stymied, feel free to ask your child.

Merry Daddy’s Day!


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 (D3F) 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.

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Jun 16

Allan, very impressed with your work. Not just your blog, but your credentials, founding the Daddying Film Festival, and your resume. Keep up the great work!

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