Fathering Together began four years ago when Chris Lewis invited me to run a Facebook group called Dads with Daughters. At the time, neither of us realized what our future held. However, within a year we had 10,000 members and within two years we were at 125,000 members from nearly every corner of the world. With each new influx of new members, I became more resolute in the belief that a new narrative of fatherhood was emerging, and we were in a position to capture those new narratives. Unfortunately, as they emerged, so many trappings and stereotypes held tight to the dads in our community.

Most of the dads who joined were children of the 1980s, just like me. For many of us, our Saturdays were spent watching cartoons before heading to little league or soccer matches. After dinner, we’d watch the Cosby Show, the Simpsons, and ABC’s TGIF. Years later, we would become dads amid popular shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men.

In our group, in the fall of 2019, dads would post memes that stated rules for dating their daughter. Most included all manner of violence they would inflict upon possible dating partners. If we didn’t remove them fast enough, fights would inevitably break out. Within the violent posturing I saw ripples from the television shows we all grew up watching.

So we banned them from the group. Anything that implied violence against another individual was off limits. We lost a lot of members, but again, everything I saw, and the messages sent to me were ripples of the violent language we were taught by those cartoons and sitcoms. They were played off as jokes, but Chris and I didn’t see the humor anymore.

Somewhere between Don Draper and Homer Simpson

Dads need a new narrative and new role models that fall somewhere between Homer Simpson and Don Draper. We don’t want to be bumbling idiots, and we don’t want to be emotionally disconnected from our kids. So what does that leave us?
There is now more television content than any one person will ever be able to watch. If you include YouTube and other social media and streaming services, it is mind boggling.

So perhaps instead of relying on pop culture and writers to present new narratives, I believe it is time fathers turn to one another.
More importantly, it’s time we step up and show that we are tired of the old narratives. On March 29th, Fathering Together is launching our This Working Dad Cares campaign with Superkin and Mirza. The campaign will run through Father’s Day to bring attention to the importance of dads taking paid parental leave and building emotional connections with their families. All who identify as a dad are welcome to participate, whether you are a biological, step, or adoptive father.

More details can be found on our landing page where we’ll be highlighting upcoming events and conversations taking place within our latest community the Fatherhood Insider, where dads becomes agents for positive change.

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Written by Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson is a husband and father to two spirited daughters that keep him inspired and exhausted every day. In his professional life, he has been a social worker, community organizer, university chaplain and interfaith leadership development consultant.