How do you define ‘Involved Dad’?

When I originally began this project, the intention was to make a documentary solely about Stay-At-Home-Dads (SAHDs). However, the further I journeyed into the research, the better idea seemed to be more inclusive of all fathers who are ‘involved’ with their kids. So, that’s how I defined an ‘Evolved’ dad. There isn’t anywhere on the website that specifies this is only about Stay-At-Home-Dads. The logo (masterfully crafted by artist Mike MacLean) has a father with a briefcase as well as a bjorn; and yet, after putting out the first wave of emails, launching the site, etc, the majority of responses are either from Stay-At-Home-Dads or people talking about SAHDs.

How interesting.

My thought has always been that the extreme version of the Evolved Dad was the Stay-At-Home-Dad and it will likely be an emphasis in the film, but not to the exclusion of the rest of the dads out there.

Which brings me to the meat of what I’m exploring at the moment. In reflection, I suppose that making a film about being a father is a personal exploration into where I am at this point in my life. (Not that the film will focus on this, as I’d rather stay behind the scenes, aside from expressions like this blog.) The point being that I never even thought of myself as a Stay-At-Home-Dad until a good friend suggested I make a film about the subject given where he saw me in my life.

To be honest, the moniker, Stay-At-Home-Dad, isn’t something I’ve ever been terribly comfortable with. Am I comfortable with being a dad? Absolutely and proudly. But Stay-At-Home-Dad brings on that whole “Mr. Mom” connotation – something I definitely feel the negative vibe about. (At the initial point of research I put out a bunch of flyers around town sharing my interest in speaking with Stay-At-Home-Dads and a few days later, happened to come across one of them. Scrawled on the paper was “Mr. Mom.” Ouch! I wondered what the person was thinking when they wrote that. Was the sting intended? As a further aside, I hope to interview some of the people behind the Mr. Mom movie to see what their perspective is now on the moniker they helped birth.)

I grew up in a fairly traditional family with a lawyer for a dad and a mom who was there mainly to take care of my sister and I, although she certainly kept busy with a small interior design business. In other words, I was born and bred to be the breadwinner dad. Hence, the idea of being a Stay-At-Home-Dad never really crossed my mind until it happened. From the dads I’ve spoken with so far, most of them would probably agree with this last statement; and yet, the rewards of getting to know your own kids this well, to be so included in their lives – it might not look cool from the outside world, but when you really care about the kids, at a certain point, who gives a sh—t?

Now, let me be clear. The film is less about canonizing Stay-At-Home-Dads than about promoting the idea of fathers to be more involved with their kids (regardless of the ‘type’ of dad) and to challenge different gender assumptions that we (myself included) have been ingrained with. There is so much that is backwards about our society in its treatment/depiction/deemphasis on fatherhood. My hope is that this film will help counteract these things to the extent that some teenage boy watching this might think to himself how cool it would be to someday become an involved dad.

Mr. Mom be damned:)

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