top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

What Would You Keep in Your Pregnant Father Kit?

by Allan Shedlin

While wandering through a flea market a few years back I came across a small cardboard box that piqued my interest. In slightly faded lettering and with a rather silly cartoonish cigar-smoking man being transported by a stork, it read “The Pregnant Father Kit” and it claimed:

Contents Will Ease ‘Pregnant’ Problems

Given my interest in and work with dads, how could I not buy it?! As soon as I got home, I eagerly opened it to examine its contents. Although there was nothing to indicate when, or by whom, it was marketed, I’m guessing it dates back to the 1950s (a recent Google search dates a somewhat updated version in 1970).

Contents of a vintage gag gift for new fathers
More or less than a new dad needs?

It might be considered a time capsule of sorts – a peek into expectations for new fathers circa 50 to 70 years ago. The items inside portray a humorous version of a kind of “survival kit.” They include a “nose pin” (clothes pin), aspirin tablets, ear plugs (corks), boy (blue) and girl (pink) cigar bands, and a small piggy bank to save for college. Although it’s clearly meant as a gag gift, it provides an indication of the expected role of fathers about a half-century ago. It might also be seen as evidence of how far the view of father roles have changed in a relatively short period of time.

Recently on the blog, I referred to a piece I wrote, titled “The Daddying Movement A Gentle Revolution.” It was circulated worldwide by the Hearst/New York Times News Service in 2008. It addressed changes in what it means to be masculine. Although I pointed out that this “movement” was not widely recognized, I noted that “Slowly, relentlessly, like a snowball rolling downhill, the movement has picked up strength and size.”

Despite the effects of climate change, the velocity and size of that metaphorical snowball seems to be on steroids of late. When I first started writing about daddying in 1994, it would have been easy to name the handful of organizations that focused attention on fathers. Thirty years later, I’d be challenged to name all the organizations and programs that exist within just a few miles radius of where I live. Having made a dozen guest appearances on father-related podcasts in the past few months, I am aware that social media has amplified the movement in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I wrote that commentary 16 years ago.

More and more parenting organizations are becoming increasingly inclusive of fathers than ever before. Among so many other indices of this growing awareness of the importance of dads, more celebrity dads are pictured with their children, more movies and TV shows are featuring dads in roles in which they are portrayed as sensitive and caring rather than as buffoons, and more corporations and policies are speaking of family or paternity leave, not just maternity leave.

These are but a few indices of the building realization, supported by solid research, that when dads are positively involved in the lives of their children – and vice versa – all measures of social well-being improve for families and communities. If we created a new “Daddying Kit for Expectant Dads,” for 2024 and beyond, I wonder what we would include…

We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments or, perhaps, in the form of a future guest blog post. Daddy on!




D3F 2024 Official Selection announcements have begun, but there's STILL time to submit!

We just started announcing some of our Official Selections to the 3rd Annual Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F) this past week and are excited about all the great films, videos, and music videos that continue to roll in from creators around the world! Our D3F Call for Entries deadline is this Monday (late deadline is 3/25), so there's still time for you to create and submit a film or video – even if it's just a 1- or 2-minute TikTok or Instagram video! We're looking for heartfelt stories that reflect what being/having an involved dad means to Dads/Dad figures and/or their children.

Check out the D3F website for more award 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.


LATE deadline is March 25th

Clipped from a news article: that's 1-year-old me after my mother and father teamed up for diaper duty, 1942

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.


bottom of page