Originally started by three stay-at-home dads with the goal of creating an organization committed to supporting at-home dads all over the country, The National At-Home Dad Network (NAHDN) – formerly Daddyshome, Inc. – has grown into one of the largest organizations of at-home dads, a fact which was more than evident following this year’s 19th Annual At-Home Dads Convention.

 

Held at the end of September in Denver, Colorado, this year’s convention saw a record-breaking attendance, not just from all over the United States, but from neighboring Canada, as well. These men came together to discuss personal parenting stories, partake in parenting education sessions, volunteer for a service project provided by sponsor Huggies, attend a panel discussion and Q&A session featuring three wives of stay-at-home dads, and finally, meet and make new friends with similar experiences.

 

Returning attendee and father of six, Carl Wilke, described the general experience at this year’s convention, stating, “While having fun is an important part of this weekend away from our families, it is more an opportunity to strengthen the bond of the brotherhood of this remarkable group of guys. I’m a better husband, dad and man for knowing them.”

 

NAHDN's logo pictorially describes what being an at-home dad is all about: playtime, teaching things like how to ride a bike, changing diapers, and hanging out with other dads (athomedad.org)

NAHDN’s logo pictorially describes what being an at-home dad is all about: playtime, teaching things like how to ride a bike, changing diapers, and hanging out with other dads (athomedad.org)

It’s a statement which captures the importance of an organization like NAHDN for at-home dads at large, as well as the value of an annual convention at which these men can come together, connect with one another, and grow as men and fathers.

 

However, beyond what NAHDN and The Annual At-Home Dads Convention are doing for fathers across nations, this organization and convention are simultaneously reshaping our ideas of gender roles and gender norms in society.

 

The reality of the stay-at-home dad is hardly a new one. As more and more women pursue demanding careers, it is not uncommon for couples to make the decision together for fathers to stay at home with children while mothers remain a part of the workforce. However, despite the rising prevalence of this familial arrangement, largely deemed unconventional in comparison to traditional family structures built on outdated gender roles, the general idea in society still remains such as that the stay-at-home dad is viewed as the deviation from the norm.

 

An organization like NAHDN, however, has the power to entirely transform archaic notions of “normal” familial structure and parental roles. It is using its position not only to provide support for stay-at-home dads, but also to challenge societal stereotypes in the process. For example, as part of the campaign to put an end to the term “Mr. Mom,” NAHDN states, “Now you are thinking: What do I use to describe a man caring for his own children, changing diapers, cooking dinners, playing dress up, volunteering at school, and taking his kids to the park? We have a suggestion: Just call him ‘dad.’”

 

The thought could not be any simpler, and yet speaks volumes in a conversation where this concept is generally clouded by overly-complicated societal expectations and stigmas.

 

Moreover, the record-breaking attendance of at-home dads at this year’s annual convention demonstrates not only that the number of at-home dads is on the rise, but that there are a growing number of men proud to recognize and better themselves as at-home dads. This is even further illustrative of the fact that NAHDN and the annual convention are sparking a change in stereotypes and commonly held beliefs around men who choose to stay at home with their kids, both for these men themselves, and for society as a result.

 

Society is constantly changing, as are the roles of men and women in it. NADHN and its members serve as a reminder of these realities, as well as the fact that it’s time for our mentality to catch up to them.

 

Do you think society is changing in the way it sees stay-at-home dads? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi