NAHDN_Logo_HorizontalIt used to be that to be a good father meant you earned enough income to support the family comfortably. But, what it means to be a good father is changing.

More and more men are wanting to and are becoming more involved in household and child care duties. As at-home dads, we are role models for this cultural shift. We are showing not only that dads can succeed at involved parenting but how to succeed at it.

And one of the most important parts of that success, as we have learned through 17 years of Conventions, is connecting with other at-home dads. Those connections are affirming, comforting and confidence-building. They help make the tough days bearable and the great days exceptional.

If you haven’t already, I believe you will discover that being a part of the National At-Home Dad Network and the Annual At-Home Dads Convention will make you a better and more confident father. And hopefully you will feel inspired to get more connected and help other at-home dads like those who have helped you.

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In the past year, we have made great strides forward with our mission to provide support, education and advocacy for fathers who are the primary caregivers of their children.

Our greatest accomplishment came from you. Last year we challenged you to help us raise at least $2,500 with a Capital Campaign. This would fund our basic website expenses and corporation fees for the next five years.

You guys came through and we raised over $3,000!!! This is more money than we have received in donations in the past 6 years COMBINED!

Not only are our basic needs meet for the next 5 years, but we have money to cover some of the website upgrades we need to do and help chapters recruit more members.

The Convention Committee came through too raising over $5,000 in cash and giveaways which helped make the 17th Annual At-Home Dad Convention the most attended convention in 7 years with over 80 dads!

Our second accomplishment was changing the name of our organization from Daddyshome to the National At-Home Dad Network making it easier for people to understand who we are and what we do. We then tasked the Marketing Committee to design a new logo to visually explain what we do. You see it at the top of this page. I think they did a great job!

Along with our trademarked national logo, we are creating logos for each chapter to use if they wish that will include the four color boxes like our national logo with the name of their city in the place where the national logo has National At-Home Dad Network. We hope to provide each chapter with some business cards with this new logo by the beginning of next year.

Now that we have this new, dynamic logo, we are beginning work on consolidating all of our web content into AtHomeDad.org. When completed, AtHomeDad.org will be the most complete site for at-home dads. This is an important project, so if you have any website experience, please sign up for the website committee. 

Dads Don't Babysit logoBesides putting on this convention and helping at-home dads connect online and in local groups, we work hard to try to change people’s perceptions of at-home dads because we believe social stigma causes us unnecessary challenges. To that end, we began a campaign titled “Dads Don’t Babysit” and started a petition to the U.S. Census demanding that they eliminate the presumption that mom is the “designated parent” in their study on Childcare Arrangements. The Census assumes fathers are babysitters instead of parents. We believe dads, especially at-home dads, are equal to moms as parents. So far we have over 1,000 signatures. If you haven’t already, please go to www.DadsDontBabysit.com and add your signature.

Our final major accomplishment is about an ad campaign from Huggies and determined at-home dad blogger Chris Routly. Originally the ads said “Help us prove that Huggies Diapers stop leaks better… putting them to the ultimate test… Dad.” They thought this was a way to celebrate fathers. Chris disagreed and started a petition on Change.org. We helped spread the word and in one week he collected over 1,200 signatures. Huggies got the message and changed their ads to say “We’re looking for great Dads to put our diapers and wipes to the test.”

But this is not all they did. Huggies has embraced involved fatherhood and among many other efforts, became a major sponsor of this convention. Thanks Chris!!!

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While we do work on a large scale like this to affect change, we do it even better on a small scale, one at-home dad at a time. One way we do that is through the Brian Dickson Memorial Convention Scholarship.

The scholarship provides financial assistance to help as many at-home dads attend the convention as we can. The scholarship is funded by $5 of each of the Convention registration fee and other donations. This year the scholarship was able to help 4 dads. The previous 3 years we have provided a total of 8 scholarships. To give you an idea of how much impact these scholarships have, 5 of those past 8 recipients are here today on their own by making it a priority in their family budget to attend.

I believe this proves the connections made by guys who attend are very important. It was certainly important to Brian Dickson and his family.

Brian Dickson, for whom the scholarship honors, became an at-home dad like many of us. His wife earned good money as a physician and it made sense for him to stay home rather than have their daughter in daycare. Also, like many of us, he struggled at first. He was lonely and unsure if he made the right decision. Then he joined a local dads group, the Kansas City Dads.

In an email, his wife told me “I know Brian was much happier–we all were–after he connected with the rest of KCDADs.  You could almost see his chest puff up when, in social gatherings, people would ask what he did, and he proudly declared, ‘I’m an at-home dad!’ Prior to the group, he would somewhat sheepishly claim his former occupation…”

He wanted to attend the Convention and meet more at-home dads but his leukemia, which had been in remission after a bone marrow transplant about 5 years earlier, returned.

I visited him once during his chemo treatments in 2007 and I saw how hard he was trying to live for his wife and little daughter. It was not to be and he passed about a year later.

After he passed away, we decided to name the scholarship in his honor and give others the opportunity Brian didn’t get the chance to enjoy.

Gentlemen, this is exactly why the National At-Home Dad Network exists; to help awesome at-home dads like Brian connect with each other.

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One of the dads who made this possible for all of us is Mike Stilwell. He laid down the foundation which allowed this convention to continue and grow.

Eight years ago in Washington DC, Mike Stilwell and two other local DC Metro Dads had the foresight to start a national organization for at-home dads. Their vision was to bring the at-home dad community together. As we are building on their vision with the most attended convention in 7 years, a new name, a new logo and more new leaders, we wanted to take this time to say ‘thank you’ to Mike Stilwell for laying the groundwork that brought this organization to life.

At the Convention, we honored Mike for his long-time dedication to the at-home dad community by presenting him with an engraved flag case that will hold the flag flying over the U.S. Capitol during the Convention.

How You Can Get Involved

In order to help more at-home dads connect with each other, we need your help!

The number one thing we need help with is redesigning our website. While we need guys with experience creating websites, we also need guys who can write content for the site and be regular contributors to our forum and blog.

We also need help with fundraising, the next convention in Denver, marketing, finance and more.

If you are interested in helping out, simply contact me at president@daddyshome.org.

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This year has been a very successful one for the National At-Home Dad Network. Even bigger things are in store for 2013. We are going to have an upgraded and improved website, better connections with local dad groups and another huge convention on Sept. 28, 2013 in Denver, CO.

Thank you for supporting men who change diapers and change the world.