Stay-at-home dad Brent Brookhouse wrote on GoodMenProject.com recently about a discussion on a private Facebook group affiliated with the National At-Home Dad Network that concerned him to the point that he left the group. He was right to be upset about the post and some of the comments made about it. The entire thread Brent described in his blog is grossly counter to the values of the National At-Home Dad Network.
The thread was deleted from that group of approximately 500 stay-at-home dads a few hours after it was originally posted. Many dads have since expressed to us disappointment in themselves for not speaking up when they saw the thread. It made them uncomfortable but they did not feel empowered to speak up against it. We can do better.
The mission of the National At-Home Dad Network is to support, educate and advocate for stay-at-home dads. We strongly believe that when men feel safe, when they feel they won’t be judged, they open up. By allowing confidential, men-only conversations at our annual at-home dads conventions, in local groups and on closed Facebook groups, we have found that stay-at-home dads are able to find better strategies for parenting, better negotiate their relationships complicated by roles being reversed and become better men.
Brent Brookhouse sought out such a group for himself. By not effectively encouraging our affiliate to moderate comments in a manner consistent with our values, we let him down. I regret that the most. A guy needed us and we failed him. Being a stay-at-home dad is a lonely role some times. I’ve been there. I’ve been that lonely dad, craving a community. I found it and I am eternally grateful to the men of the National At-Home Dad Network for making be a better dad, husband and man.
I am disheartened that the failure to moderate the crass behavior of a few dads kept Mr. Brookhouse from the opportunity to experience the same thing I have.
The National At-Home Dad Network has taken several steps to improve this affiliated Facebook group.
The first thing we did was get in touch with Mr. Brookhouse. We apologized by phone. We explained that the comments he endured were counter to our values and not what we are about. We expressed our disappointment that he chose a public forum to present his concerns instead of attempting to communicate directly with the administrators of that group or the leadership of the National At-Home Dad Network. We also discussed what actions we were considering and assured him we would address his concerns. His response to us was, in part:
“…I feel confident that the larger issues that were the center of the Good Men Project article are in the process of being addressed. I would hope that the SAHD community understand that my article was as much about values and parenting as any other post you may read about stay-at-home dads.
There are TONS of great stay-at-home dads, my article was not meant to suggest otherwise. But rather to try to stress that the need to ‘be a man,’ in the SAHD community should never overtake the need to respect women and foster an environment where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Our conversation was productive and I feel that the people in charge of the National At-Home Dad Network understand this, and have prioritized actions that will improve the community as a whole.”
The second thing we did was to talk to the administrators of the affiliated private Facebook group. We encouraged them to increase the number of administrators so any future offensive and irrelevant posts can be deleted more quickly and to update their policies to better reflect our values. They agreed to work with us toward that. They have also removed the members from the group who made the inappropriate comments on the thread Mr. Brookhouse wrote about.
The third thing we did was to offer a brief apology to the public through a statement on Good Men Project, a long-time partner and supporter of our organization, which they posted on Mr. Brookhouse’s article.
The behavior of a few dads on our affiliated Facebook group that day was appalling. The National At-Home Dad Network deeply regrets Brent Brookhouse’s experience. The comments he endured are grossly counter to our values.
To Brent and to the public at large, we express our sincerest apologies. We failed in our mission that day and we pledge to do better.