Our diversity across race, faith tradition, our children’s ages, neurodiversity, and age was increasingly present on this day. We began by sharing some of our favorite quotations from MLK:Our Diverse fathers group talks about racism and White privilege
TODAY, June 17th is the eighth annual Daddy Daughter Dance. It takes place again this year in Philadelphia at the Hilton Hotel from 6-pm. The event started as the idea of the founder of Daddy UniverseCity who recognized the significance of the bond between father and daughter. With all of the bullying, school stress and social media influence in our young girls lives our daughters can easily fall victim to anxiety, depression, school suspension and low self-esteem without a strong father or father figure for support.
I volunteer every year not just to support DaddyUniverseCity and their vision to support and educate fathers, but because of the beautiful stories that I see walking through the door. I’ve seen fathers with disabled daughters, grandfathers attending with their daughter and granddaughter, men with infants and diaper bags on their shoulder and young girls dancing with their little feet on top of their father’s for guidance. I’ve seen tears in the eyes of grown men and grown women alike and it’s obvious that it’s the first time they have spent this type of quality time with their father or child. There is not simply music, good food and tiaras but there is genuine healing of families and relationships happening after the tickets are purchased and the couples are seated. I see it in their eyes, I hear the conversations and feedback as they pour out of the ballroom drenched with joy. I am always filled with hope and fulfillment and while I wish I had the chance to attend once with my own Dad, I am ever so grateful that my daughter is sitting at the table every year with hers.
The event started eight years ago with 50, last year over 500 were in attendance. If you don’t have your ticket, there may still be time but I wouldn’t wait much longer. Miracles are waiting.
Oh yes and Happy Father’s Day!
Re-post of the January 8, 2017 article about Daddy University, a Fatherhood support resource, in the Philadelphia Tribune:
The leadership team at Daddy University has started off the new year with a brand new website to help guide fathers of all ages through parenthood.
Located at daddyuniv.com, the website offers a baby supplies checklist for new fathers, legal information and a place for fathers to share their story of challenge or triumph.
While the website is new, the male parenting education company Daddy University has helped fathers in the Philadelphia area since 2004.
For eight months out of the year, fathers come to the West Philadelphia YMCA to meet with President and CEO Joel Austin and discuss topics ranging from how to communicate with a rebellious teen to how to braid their daughter’s hair.
Austin, a father of four, was inspired to create Daddy University after taking his eldest son to a Big Brother/Big Sister class at a nearby hospital. While hospital staff taught his son how to change a diaper and help out mom and dad, Austin realized he needed to take notes too.
“I am now the head of my household, and the only one who has had no training in taking care of children,” Austin said. “Even my five-year old has had a better class than me.”
He decided enough was enough. First, Austin started researching lessons on childcare online. Most of his results were from maternity websites. Next, he and co-founder Edward McGee started meeting with focus groups. After those took off in popularity, Austin and McGee then launched the Fathers Club with a full class curriculum.
“It’s not about fatherhood over motherhood, it’s about having two educated parents to raise a child,” Austin said.
In the past, people have joined the Fathers Club through word-of-mouth or recommendations from social services. Attendance ranges from 50 to 100 people, from teen fathers to grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
One of the first lessons Austin teaches is personal responsibility. Instead of referring to the child’s mother by name, he tells the men in his class to use the phrase, “the woman I chose.” Austin also teaches parents how to communicate with their children. His solution-based lessons help parents create more time between reacting and responding to an issue.
“The biggest problem I have in my class is that many of my men are not taught conflict resolution,” Austin said. “The thing is, everybody can actually win.”
The Fathers Club classes cover the time between a child is born to adulthood. With his oldest children in their early 20’s, Austin says he doesn’t believe in 18 being the magic number.
“So you were dumb at 17-and-a-half, but for some reason at 18 you’re supposed to be given this miraculous gift from the heavens of knowledge?” he said. “Instead, he works with parents to develop an exit strategy so children can be successful after they leave the home.
“None of them are raising children,” Austin added. “They are raising somebody’s future husband, wife, mother or father.”
Other than weekly classes, Daddy University also offers a fatherhood conference, young male Conference, mother and son dance and a daddy and daughter dance. The daddy and daughter dance takes the form of a debutante ball, and ticket sales help fund Daddy University. About 50 people showed up to the first dance. Seven years later, more than 650 fathers took their daughters to dance.
“We didn’t realize that a lot of adult women would be bringing their dads as well,” Austin said. “Now, the ages of the event are three years old all the way up to 60 or 70.”
With the website now active, the leaders at Daddy University are now looking towards advocacy for parenting rights and expanding the Fathers Club to the South Philadelphia YMCA. Austin plans to continue guiding dads in parenthood.
“I want people to have fun with parenting,” he said. “Crawl on the floor as much as you can.”
Information and ways to donate to Daddy University are available online at daddyuniv.com.