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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

What Does It Mean For Dads To Remember Their Destination?

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy, DCG Founder, and Director of the Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F)

View of sunrise above clouds from airplane window
IMAGE: AdobeStock

As I write this flying at 30,000 feet, returning to DC from eight days in New Mexico, I have a different perspective above the clouds than I had below them. My time in NM was spent scurrying from meeting to meeting in service to our upcoming Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F), the world's first and only film festival focused exclusively on promoting the importance of positive dad involvement for kids and families.

In the midst of shuttling between the demands of D3F intern training, inviting film/video submissions, venue checking, marketing and advertising planning, establishing partnerships, hunting for hotel accommodations, car rentals, etc., a colleague asked me what I thought was the most difficult part of launching our film festival and new on-site Daddying Forum.

The question stopped me in my tracks.

After a momentary hesitation, I realized the most difficult part was remembering why we've undertaken our festival in the first place. It's been said that when one is in the woods, it's sometimes hard to see the trees.

The D3F exists because our relationship with our father – in its presence or its absence – is one of the most important relationships in our lives. And because kids are most directly impacted by a dad's involvement or his absence, we wanted to offer them a creative outlet to freely express their feelings about their relationships – whatever they may be – with their dads or dad figures. For our second annual event in 2023, we've expanded our program to provide a complementary opportunity for dads.

It then dawned on me that there is an associated parallel between my D3F planning and the process of daddying/parenting. With decades of experience as a dad, granddad, educator, researcher, and parenting coach, I'm acutely aware how rarely parents find or make time to really think about and/or remember why they became parents in the first place. During the intense demands of parenting, it's all too easy to slip into an "automatic pilot" parenting mode and frequently forget what our goals and hopes are as parents.

Me & my daughters, Pamet Harbor, MA, 1972

During my "Becoming the Dad You Want to Be" workshops, I always ask the attendees, "Who is the dad you want to be?" We acknowledge the question feels overwhelming. And so, I've learned to make it a bit more manageable by asking the workshop participants to ask themselves, "How do you want your child to describe you as a dad 5, 10, or 15+ years from now?"

I believe it is a valuable question for all parents and grandparents to ask themselves. While we should all enjoy the journey, it's often valuable to also envision the destination. I then encourage dads, granddads, and other father figures with this final thought:


And don't wait to submit your film or video for D3F consideration by MAY 1st! Follow the link below to our FilmFreeway site for more information and to send us your visual love letters to being or having an involved dad!


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 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.


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