You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 175. What a joy this episode was, I got to hang out with my friend Keegan to talk about navigating respectful parenting as a dad. One thing that we have found in doing this work is that so often the folks coming to the table to have these conversations are moms and in this episode we're talking about dads and it's a pretty heteronormative conversation. I want to be really clear about that going in. We talked about the differences that Dad's face in respectful parenting in hetero relationships. I think it's really important for us to have specific conversations about certain groups of people and how they're affected in the parenting world. My friend Keegan runs Dad Guild here in Vermont, which is an incredible organization that I've had the pleasure of working with and doing a workshop for that was specifically for dads. And I'm so excited to share Keegan with y'all today.
Before we dive in, I wanted to let you know that we're doing a free challenge on co-parenting with someone who has a different approach than you do and how to respond with intention in those hard moments where your co-parent might be responding to your kiddo in a way that might be triggering for you or doesn't align with your value system or is simply different than how you would do it. This is something we get so many questions on, so we put together a free five day challenge. I am dropping a video every single day, Monday, through Friday next week and it's totally free. Just guiding you through how to do this work, we did a Self-Reg challenge back in January that folks loved. We had thousands of people from all around the world join that one and I'm so excited to drop this one as well now, diving into this work with you guys is my favorite. So head on over to www.seedandsew.org/challenge to sign up again, it's totally free. Come join us for next week's challenge. I can't wait to hang out with you guys there. All right, buckle up for this episode. It was such a fun one for me to do with Keegan. Let's dive in.
Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell.
Hey everyone. Welcome back to Voices of Your Village, today I get to hang out with a friend that I haven't been able to hang out with in a little bit. Thanks Covid. But today I get to hang out with Keegan. Who is a rad human that I got to connect with here in Burlington and do a little work with and I'm jazzed to get to do some more work with Keegan. You're one of those humans that like every time I get to hang out and chat, I just leave feeling like fired up and excited.
Is that the real reason you brought me on here today?
That's it. It was selfish, it was fully selfish. How are ya?
You know in this in this moment I am good, you know January felt a little, a little rough, I was a little down. But you know I think all folks at this point in the pandemic and the winter, particularly those trying to raise children at the same time and work. I don't know of too many people who are doing really well so, it's totally okay.
Yeah. Our like, I feel like measurement for good or well has really changed.
Yeah, I'm hoping a silver lining out of this pandemic is people will like, honestly answer like hey how you doing? They won't just get the generic good or fine like they'll be like hey I actually I'm not doing well today and like, and that's okay.
Yeah, yeah. I'm here for that. For sure. Will you share with our village a bit about just who you are and what brings you here?
Yeah sure. So I am the Fatherhood Program Coordinator at The Family Room in Burlington which is a parent child center. And I'm also the founder and president of Dad Guild, a Burlington based nonprofit organization that looks to support, empower and connect fathers of young children. And you know, I have two children. I have two daughters, a four-year-old and a two-year-old. And when I became a father back in 2016, I remember being like, super jazzed about like, oh, what are the offerings out there for dads in our community? And know, I watched a lot of like Full House and Family Matters growing up and so I was like really eager to jump into like that world and I was very shocked, you know, in Burlington, Vermont, like there wasn't much going on and there's a lot of stuff out there for, for mother's, which is awesome. And there needs to be more and I was surprised that they're just there wasn't really much for dads. And so that kind of became, you know, I noticed a need and noticed the passion and, you know, over the past. Gosh, four and a half years. Now, kind of like, made it my quest to really develop a supportive community of fathers and just making sure that there's opportunities for dads to be pulled in to the child upbringing process and that it's not all left up to primarily mothers and that, you know, we're, you know, we're not just expecting dad's to show up, but really reaching out, pulling them in, and providing really cool unique opportunities to do so.
Yeah, I'm so here for it. And, you know, I have so much compassion for dudes, who are raising kids because I feel like we now, our generation is like, hey, we want you to be really involved, we want this to be a partnership. We want you to co-parent and we didn't give you any tools to do that, right? Like we have, we've dramatically shifted the expectations of Dad's from our parents to, now what we're expecting in our generation and I really feel like there hasn't been support, not even just like once you're a dad support, but even leading up to that like even things, as simple as like, how many of the dad's today had a doll to play with when they were growing up? You know, like so many things that we do. I think, for women, when we're looking at a binary here to like, support them in nurturing and caregiving and building a toolbox for this, and then we like thrust dad's into it. And we're like, why aren't you doing this, right?
It's so true. And like, you know, and prior to getting involved in the fatherhood work. I was an educator and worked with adolescents in a variety of settings, over the past, 15 plus years. And a part of the focus of my work was helping young men, examine what masculinity means in our society. And what does it mean to be a man? And you're totally right where, like, you know, one of my, some of my favorite activities would be the like, you know, going into stores and looking at movie covers and just kind of like really dissecting media and just kind of what's around us of like hey what messages are we getting? That we might not pause and really look around. And think about like in that you're totally right where, you know, the idea of like what it means to be a man, is you know macho. You know, you're not talking about how you're feeling. You're not you know you're not super connected to like bringing up kids, you're not soft. You're working and you know how success is defined and your right where it's, like the expectation has shifted over the past few decades which is great, but there's no like, hey guys here's how you do it like, here's the handbook of how to get more involved or like here's the handbook to like get in touch with your emotions. And I think we're shifting that direction, but I think there's a lot of guys still who are like, you know, they might want to be involved more, but they're just like, they're really confused. It's like, hey society's been telling me this all my life and now I'm being expected to, you know, be more engaged with my family and my children which is awesome. But like, I don't even know where to begin. I don't, I don't have like the Facebook group to jump onto and like, you know, poll my community of dads to ask them. Like, you know what, they're doing with this and how they're doing and yeah we just we need more resources. You know, I think Dad's need to step it up a little bit and I also think we need to step it up a little bit as a society around, how we are engaging dads and pulling them into the process.
A thousand percent. And I think your work and focus on masculinity is so important because so much of this work involves vulnerability which hasn't in the past been viewed as a strength, you know, or as masculine and it is vulnerable to say, this is really triggering for me or I don't have the tools for this and it's such a like, that's that's the way in I think for so many of us is being like, I'm overwhelmed, I don't know what to do with this crying child and I am not feeling good about how I'm responding or whatever and that in and of itself is so vulnerable to be able to do and I am curious for you growing up like as a boy turning into this now man, who is comfortable with vulnerability? At least from my perspective. How do you get, how'd you do that? How did you get there? What did that shift look like?
Yeah, that's really good question. I, you know I look back and like I had I had very accepting and supportive parents like who you know, I don't think ever tried to box me in or you know the idea of like being tough was like, you know, never a thing. I don't, I'll be honest, I did watch like so many Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and I was reflecting, I was like, I think I was like, watching Robocop and Terminator when I was like 5 years old and like, meanwhile, like my four-year-old can't finish watching Moana without like hiding under the blankets and so like and I played a lot of violent video games. But, you know, I think I was really fortunate. Again, having supportive parents, you know, like a really kind loving, brother and the community I grew up in. I grew up in Meredith, New Hampshire and I just really lucked out with the kids that I grew up around and, you know, people were really friendly. And that's, I mean I think I was pretty isolated and protected from like the some of the harsher realities of the world but you know whether it was that or watching a lot of TGIF as a kid or like I remember, like I remember getting really upset when people would like kill ants, like I would like, get really like, I would cry and be like, stop it. Yeah. So I don't, I don't know exactly what to attribute it to, but I think I was just, I grew up in an environment where I was really allowed to like, just be who I was and I really don't remember feeling too much pressure on needing to perform in one way or fit into a box of any sorts.
That's so nice. It's interesting. I was chatting with Zack, my husband about this similar thing, you know, he grew up in two different households and had three moms and a dad, has three moms and a dad. And so he grew up with a lot of feminine energy as well. And a lot of like challenging gender norms and things like that. So I think that was unique in and of itself but one thing that I noted, that I've observed from him. Was that at home this was very welcomed, right? Like feelings, and vulnerability, and emotional expression. And he had like developed tools for how to not be vulnerable in the general public or in relationships with peers etc. And as we delve into it, he was talking about how like yeah the social programming like outside of my, he was outside of my house, like there was still the social programming of like, yeah, I don't want to be made fun of, or this is what would be like the reaction if I said, I feel sad, or I'm crying in school or what not? And he was like that fear of what might come if I did. That was plenty for me to just be like, yeah. I'll just hold that right in, you know.
Yeah. And I remember like plenty of times, you know, for me, going through middle school and high school. I was one who like I always wanted a girlfriend but I never you know, I had one in sixth grade and like that was it for me. So yeah, it's like in high school. I remember like, you know, that was such a big thing for me because I, you know, I wanted like a be in a relationship so badly but I like I think I lacked the confidence to like, you know, I had two, like one perspective was like hey if I'm not going to marry this person like what's the, what's the point in like dating them as like, 15 year old Keegan like thinking this. And then, you know, the other part was just like a lack of self-confidence. I think, but then as a result, as other guys are kind of like checking off the like, hey, this is the number of girls I've made out with over the past few months and I'm like, I got a physical at my doctors last month. Like, that's, that's the extent here and I was like, fine, with that. But then, you know, the names you get called, like the things that, you know, I think young boys in particular, are I think a lot of are so insecure and, like, there's, they’re so hurt, and they're so confused. And that any opportunity to like circle someone else, and be like, oh, this person is like less of a man than I am. Let's all target them and like and these are my friends and like so is, it was like, really you know, it was it was hard. I didn't get it all the time but like you know I definitely like I remember like crying on the sports bus like coming home from games at times and like yeah, it's like it's really you, no one, no young boy wants to be that person that gets knocked down.
Yeah. And I feel like so many of the dad's today, they grew up with that, right? As the like, there are these markers for how you show up and what you can express and what's comfortable. And you know I think about like if we were raising a boy, I definitely have fear around, I don't want you to be the guinea pig. I want you to be vulnerable and live with emotional intelligence and know that there will be times where that's harder for you because you might be the target of being picked on for this or that or whatever. And and I grew up in a really masculine environment. I have four brothers and it was really like sports, dude, heavy. And I was always referred to as emotional and dramatic because I expressed emotions and I, yeah, I guess like I feel those wounds of like growing up in a masculine environment and expressing and have fear around like, what would that look like for our tiny human growing up? That definitely comes up for me and I wonder if it comes up for other folks who were raised in a situation where they weren't able to express, without being made fun of, or being called some sort of name that typically meant that they were feminine, which was meant to be demeaning, whole other can of worms. But yeah, I guess I'm wondering for folks who might be like, yeah, I don't want my kid to get made fun of, or I don't want them to get picked on.
Yeah. Oh my gosh, it is. It is so challenging and my, my oldest daughter Coraline who's, she's over four and a half now and like, you know, she's just this like, she's like the funniest like silliest, sweetest, kindest child and like, you know, she definitely like my raises, my blood pressure from time to time but like there's this innocence in like children that you're like, oh my gosh like how do we, how do we, how do we keep this? Like how do we keep this innocence within you and it breaks my heart thinking about you know, her going into you know as she gets older and just being aware of the of the social pressures that are going to surround her and like you know what are the expectations I'm having of her and what are the tools I want to give her? And like you know, we have lots of conversations around like you know, how to stick up for yourself. For others. How do you like, what kind of language you're using? How are you taking care of yourself? Like all of these things that like she's really buying, that she you know, she buys into and and they think they work pretty well. But when you start, like you say, when you start, you know, you enter a grade school and then you become, if that's not the norm because it really depends on like, you know what environment are you in? What other kids are around you and if that's not the norm, and if kids are like eager to, you know, find someone to pick on and you know come together and you know and bully or tease. It breaks my heart like thinking like that might be my daughter and then just like and how how do you help them through that? Yeah. And like is that like gosh? It is really challenging to think about because you're like, it's not selfish because like this like you know in all my years of experience is like this is the way, how you do this, but the biggest problem is that like that kind of journey and that kind of work, like isn't necessarily normalized in this. It's this, it's the thing that we do, I work with dads who like, you know, I teach them the importance of like some of these guys who have like never opened up before, and talking about how important it is to like talk to someone about how you're feeling. And they look at me and they're like they're like dude if I go out and hang out with like my friends on the streets and I'm talking like you're talking to me they're going to like laugh at me or punch me or something. So it's the like oh yeah how how can I expect how can I expect someone to like, you know? Do use these strategies and use these tools. If the environment that they're in is like not conducive and supportive of it.
Yeah, I think that's a huge challenge. I was coaching a couple recently and the, it's a heterosexual couple, and the dad is in a really masculine work environment. And similarly was like, yeah, I can't do this at work. Like this is not, this would not fly at work and so I was like, what would it look like to be doing this at home to be doing this in partnership, to be doing this in parenthood and to still be able to code switch and not do it at work, you know, like, I think it's okay to wear different hats here and that it doesn't have to be that one-size-fits-all of like, well, if I'm going to be really vulnerable and open about my feelings, I have to do it in every space. I think the reality is, especially for guys, still today, it's not safe to do in every space.
Yeah. And what I'm noticing is that in Dad Guild, we run like, a lot of groups, a lot of, like, community building. And what I notice, because one of the things we try to do is like, make it cool in that like, you know, I think, I think these days if you're like, hey Dad's come on and like let's all talk about our feelings together! I've, a lot of my friends are like, yeah, no, that's not my thing. But if you're like, you know, pre covid-19 like, hey, okay, how about this, come play video games at the bar and have a beer? And all of a sudden they're like, okay cool, I'll do that. And then when they show up, you know, within like 20 minutes, you'll see five of them circling up, talking about how tough it is with their kids sleep schedule right now. And you're like, haha tricked you!
I got you here and now we're doing it!
And then what I'm finding is that, you know, when guys start doing it more and more, more often then not, I'm hearing this phrase of, like, like I didn't know, I needed something like this, or, like I knew something in my life, like, I needed something, but like, I didn't even know something like this existed and it's been, you know, for me, like, you know, my background is in, like nonprofits and like social work, and mental health, and this has kind of been like, a norm, like we're always talking about how we're feeling. And then it's just kind of like this reminder of like, oh, that's not the norm. Like a lot of folks and a lot of men in particular, like, aren't talking about how they're feeling and that like, you know, we're just, we're just putting weights on the scale, one at a time and that, like, you're right where like, you can't expect an entire workplace that's very like, has a very, like hegemonic masculine feel to it, to all of a sudden change, but if you can kind of like start kind of nudging people in that direction and start like, you know, making these kinds of conversations and groups and experiences the norm, recognizing it's just, it's going to take a lot of time but you know, you're just kind of pushing the scale in the other direction. And this hoping that like one day like we'll, we'll get there.
Yeah, I'm here for it. When I had the privilege of doing, pre covid, a, an in-person workshop with you guys, with Dad Guild, and it was dad's only and we filled it up, there was like a waitlist. We filled up immediately and I was shocked. It was like, okay cool. And then I started getting these emails from female partners, for the first time I've ever done workshops, I've done so many in-person workshops, for the first time ever, female partners were emailing me saying, like my husband or my partner's coming to this and I'm really excited. Here are some things. I'd like you to cover. Like here are his trouble areas and we had to create like a message, it was like an email response within Seed because we were getting so many of them and I was like, I was like, oh my gosh, ladies, it was wild. Now, I was like, can you imagine if you were going to a parenting workshop and your husband reached out to me and said, hey this is awesome that she's going, she could really use this work. Here are the areas, I'd like you to cover that she's really struggling with. Like, how would that feel? And it was wild to me, but what was really, really cool about this workshop was how engaged, everyone was right? Like, sometimes it's getting people in the room. Like, you were saying, maybe it's having a beer and playing video games. Maybe it's your partner signing you up for a workshop with me. But then once people were in the room, it was so engaged. We had to like kick people out at the end. There was a line for questions. Like, I think you're right, like folks are hungry for this and want these spaces to do this work and that's really exciting for me.
Yeah. I mean like, you know, I think about those those emails that like partners were sending out and like, you know, that part, like, how well-intentioned? Somehow it's like, you know, for me it's like identifying like, hey here is a challenge that my partner has, like I really hope you can cover this because I know he needs support in this and it's like that's awesome. That you you're thinking about this and you're caring about this and let's also think about like process and like you know, expectations that we're setting up and like, you know, what is the point of this workshop? And I remember that night really well and I was like, you know, super appreciative of, you know, you coming and doing that and Building Bright Futures for sponsoring it. And I think there was, there was 30 dad's, we had to cap it off. Because it was in a classroom at a middle school, and there was 30 dads, who showed up, it was a Tuesday night, it was a potluck. So everyone's like, people like brought meals and stuff and it was like super cool, it's like, oh my gosh, this is like these guys are super engaged and you're right, we did have to like, hey, we have to stop and go. And you know, one of the things that like, that speaks to me about is that, you know, we have these opportunities where you have, you know, workshops that are just like, hey, this is for all parents and all caregivers, we have this, these playgroups, we have this community space, all parents, all caregivers and which is great because I think there's this, you know, there's there's an intention to try and be inclusive. And from what I still see is that the reality is that those spaces are still typically like, you know, 90 plus percent moms, which is like understandable, and it's okay, and I'm so happy those spaces are there and I'm so happy mothers are doing this and it's so awesome and I think, but I think like to be like the dude who walks into like a group of 20 women and be like, I'm gonna like join this group, it just, it takes a certain breed of guy. I think some guys are like super comfortable with that, and I think a lot of guys are like, oh no, this is not my space and so I think you know the fact that 30 guys showed up and we had to like you know we had to cap it, you know to me that just speaks to like how hungry like guys actually are and this kind of goes back to like okay, how are you, how are you creating spaces that are meeting guys where they're at and how are you really normalizing positive, fatherhood engagement that again, it's just like really meeting them where they're at, and, yeah, that was just such an awesome night.
Totally, and I think it's interesting, you know, I think for guys, especially, especially white dudes, that this may be the first time where they aren't in the majority in a group where they aren't walking into a space where they feel super comfortable, where, you know, something that for women. So many of us have been, like the only one on that, in that boardroom or the only one in that group or the only one at that table and we've had to navigate that or folks of color etc. And for dads, I think this could be for a lot of us again, especially white dad's the first time where they're like, oh I'm outside my comfort zone, usually, like I have power and control in a situation and I don't feel that here and I think that's interesting to like just see unfold.
Yeah, no. I think it brings, that it can bring up a lot of discomfort in guys, which, I agree, which I think, you know, you don't see them in a lot of those places. And then I also like, you know, I've heard from some folks to who, some thoughts around, you know because the parenting world typically is pretty mother focused. And a lot of, you know it's predominately mothers who are making up that world that there's also this idea and I've thought a lot about that. It is this kind of like safe space for for women to be and you know and then the idea of like, you know, living in a patriarchy and to have you know men are dominating all these aspects of society and now here they are like sneaking into like the parenting world is kind of like hey wait a minute. Stay out of here. Like we don't want you in here. I haven't got, like mostly I've had people like really open arms, like yes we want, we want guys more involved because you know, I recognize that this isn't just like a you know, empowering men, empowering fathers, getting dad's more engaged. These are community health issues, you know, children succeed, much, like, much, higher rates, if they have a dad, who's positively engaged. You look at things like gender equity and like, the, the pay gap and how when dads are involved who ends up being, you know, I know recognizes it's a lot of times, it can be a choice. And also a lot of times like, you know, mothers do fall into like the, I'm the one who stays at home. Dad's the breadwinner. He stays out working. And so it just kind of like perpetuates that system as well, with gender inequity. And so recognizing that, like, hey, if we can, like, you know, get more guys involved here, like, you know, that could create more opportunities for for women to, you know, maybe explore life outside the household more if they choose to. But yeah, really. Just recognizing like, this isn't, our communities and our world is a much better place, when dads are empowered supported and engaged in the child upbringing process.
Totally, totally and I'm curious for you. So so often we'll hear on our end within the village and at Seed doing this work, is this like resistance to letting go of control that I've heard a lot of mom's be like, yeah, it's really hard for me to say like I'm going to sit back and let him do this in a way that isn't exactly how I would do it. Or that mom feels like she gathers all the data, she follows the Instagram account, she reads the book, she does the podcast, and then she's the deliverer of the parenting information. And it I think can create this system where it's like, well, I'm in charge. Sure, I want to hear your opinion a little bit but like I'm in charge of this. At the end of the day, it's my decision and I need you to make the decision that I want you to make. And so much of our work at seed right now is focused on, like how do we bring awareness to this as women again in this binary of like if if we do want to share these tasks and we want to share the like duty of raising the tiny humans that it's not a hundred percent going to be in our control anymore.
Yeah, I think that like, you know, when you're raising children or when you're, you know, I mean, raising children is a job, I mean, and like, when you're doing a job in the workplace, like at some point you have to, like be okay that even though like, you know, Greg over there may not be doing it the way that you would want to do it and it's not your favorite, but like you still have to like, you know, you can talk about it. But like also let him do things his way and like, you know, you do things your way. So, there's that. Yeah, there's a part of that, like, how do you kind of give up some control and allow this person to like, you know, parent in their own way? And, you know, I think that that really interesting point that you brought up around, you know, how mom might be in like, you know, on these Instagram feeds, on Facebook, in the parenting class, in the groups. And is just getting like so much information and so much great information. And then, you know, she becomes the like this
is our plan and then Dad is the like, all right. Just, you know, get me the CliffNotes of it. Tell me what I got to do and like even if like even if his intention is in the right place, and his hearts in the right place, like that's not a recipe for success. I found this with my partner who I love so dearly and she was doing this like program of like positive parenting program and was like, and she's like, yeah, we should do this and I'm like, you know, if you want to watch your videos like you know, go for it and then like, you know, just let me know and I'll just we can just do it. And I learned like, maybe like a week into it that like that was, that was not a good idea because like, because like then she was doing these things and then I was like trying to but I wasn't really getting the full grasp and like it just led to more conflict because it was just really hard to get on the same page. And so, you know, I think part of the, you know, yes, you know in these binary relationships, mother's kind of like giving up a bit the control and also kind of going back to like hey creating more spaces for dads to like you know, if for a dad to jump into a group or community and to kind of like bounce ideas and get perspectives. Like in our Dad Guild Facebook group. That there's so many, like, guys who come and be like, hey, I got this question with this going on. I got this going on and like, guys start chiming in and then we have these like, weekly Zoom calls like 10 to 15 dad's jump on and like, people are like, just brainstorming ideas. And like it's really cool to like here, you know, for dads. You see dad's coming in like, seeking the perspectives of others, because I think that's, that's not a norm and there aren't really communities for dads to do.
That is, a thousand percent agree. And you know, we opened up the membership and it was interesting. We were like, please bring partners. You can both share a login like, Netflix style. You can both do these courses together. You can both engage in the community in the same way and overwhelmingly, it's mom's and it's mom's engaging, it's women. And so we were like, okay, back to the drawing board, how do we get more dad's involved? And so for June, we're opening the membership for a week which was unplanned and it's truly focused on like co-parenting and bringing more partners into this work. And for us, at Seed, to do a better job of making sure that our content and our support is around how to bring partners into this work, how to collaborate in co-parenting. Yeah. So it's opening up for a week. Truly focused on that. And then our content following that in the membership is really focused on like all right, now you're in here. How do you do this? Like, what does it look like to collaborate in this work? And how do you get started? And what can we create as spaces that can be welcoming? That you can feel cozy? Even if you just want to be an onlooker for a little bit and you're not ready to like post a question or a comment like, fine you want to just like take in the information, great but getting folks cozy in the membership that aren't just women.
It's, and I appreciate those efforts because I do think in terms of like, you know, when you're in a family and you're trying to raise children and you're trying to get on the same team, I think it's so important for both parents, or you know however the family system looks for all caregivers to be engaged in the process that they're, that they're, you know, going to webinars or reading articles or reading books or discussing these things, they have communities that they're bouncing these ideas off of, I think it's really important that there are opportunities across the board for folks and something that, you know, I've experienced and with Dad Guild, is that, you know, we have, we have a community of, like, I guess a little over 400. Dad's of young children in the greater Burlington area now who are connected to Dad Guild, and which has been really awesome to see. And, you know, I still have, you know, I have good friends who have small children and don't come the things or they might come to something once in a blue moon but it's just, you know, it's not a priority for them. And that's something that like, I used to take really personally of like, oh my gosh, like, hey, like, you're my bud. Like, why aren't you coming out to this and quickly realized that like, you know, for a lot of guys like there's just some really different comfort levels there whether it's like, hey, you know, learning about parenting stuff that's not my that's not my jam or you know the idea of like that possibility of like things getting vulnerable like just being like, nope not, that can stay away or even just the social anxiety of like, you know, especially as adults, like, to go into a space where there's, you know, 10 people there and you don't really know anyone and you're gathering you're, the reason you're gathering is because they're all dads and I think it's like a really scary place for guys to be. And so that's something that like, you know, we're always brainstorming of like hey how do you make these spaces and environments as like welcoming and as like fun and like non-threatening as possible. And I think, you know, I am a firm believer in the like, if you can just continue to grow the community that you do have and continue to build awareness and make partnerships and just keep on getting more materials out there and it's like showing people that hey, this, so it becomes the cool thing to do so like that's my hope as you get to a point where like care providers are like, hey have you heard of Dad Guild? Like that's, it's not even like you should check it out. It's just like, that's what all the dads do. Like go do it. And that's the hope. And that is just, again it just takes a while.
Yeah, I'm so here for it though and I think you guys have done such a rad job of growing and being intentional with your growth and making sure you're being inclusive with your growth and I'm excited to see it continue to flourish, I'm curious for you in partnership you know, you mentioned the one instance where your partner was doing the like parenting class and you were like, yeah, keep me posted, but outside of like that like in terms of co-parenting. What have been the things that have come up for you as challenges like as a dad navigating this space that yeah, you have any like words of wisdom on like we encountered this as a challenge I didn't see coming in me playing a really active role in fatherhood or really trying to do this in a respectful manner with kiddos. Yeah, love to hear anything that has come up for you?
Yeah, I think like I'm gonna go off on my, first I'll start with my mental health advocacy piece that like both my partner and I have, you know, been in therapy for like three or four years now on a weekly basis and it started off as couples counseling and we do that from time to time and that like so I will like, that's always a big thing for me is just like having outside support. I think that being in therapy and counseling, which I recognize can be like a pretty privileged thing to be able to access in our society. But if you do have the means to do it, how beneficial that is. I think it's a really helpful tool just like process these things and have like, a third party present to kind of like, help you navigate some of the stuff that inevitably comes up with with parenting because you get into conflict with your partner like that. That happens and you know, some things that have come up for me is that like you know, even when you read, you know, the books like whether it's the sleep training, or the potty training, and I think my partner has, she tends to like, really spearhead those things? You know, it's funny because I'm talking like yeah, here I am like the "Dad Guild guy" and I'm also like, yeah, you read the book and I'll kind of like check it out. So like, which I think even like that's that really speaks to like that, you know, the culture of like fathers and men around this kind of stuff. So that's, you know, it's I recognize that's work in myself that I have to do because as a partner to me that must be frustrating. If you're like, hey Keegan just read the darn book. It's so like we're all at, we're all human and we're all working on these things and then, you know, I think, you know, sometimes you, you do come to these like different philosophies of like, you know, my partner and I have discussed sometimes with our youngest daughter, two-year-old Penny we're like, I'm, I'm a believer in the like, when, you know, setting some pretty firm expectations with her and being like, hey, we got three books left. Hey, we got two books left. Hey, we got one book left. Hey, time to get into bed. I'm going to sing you three songs, good night and like leave. And I think my partner is a little more of the like, you know has a little more of that soft spot for when they, and she's like I need you mommy, of like I let me give you one more hug and like sometimes I'm like, oh yeah, what are you doing? But then I'm also like hey you know what, like that's that's your connection. That's your bond and like the you know, that's that's your mother daughter bond and I have my father daughter bond and they look very differently and they look very similar a lot of time but they also have their differences and like and that's okay. Like you, you shouldn't be doing things. Exactly the same. Like I think you can have a full like some philosophies that line-up and like your practices but like, you're gonna have a different relationship and that and that's totally okay. And I think that's, that's taken me a while to get to, but yeah, I think that's been one that comes up sometimes because I think it's something like, when I have a kid who's crying and I'm like, trying to console them and they're like, calling out for Mommy, and I'm just like, it's like a pride thing. I'm like, no, I got this. Like, I'm like, and I'm like, I want to, I want to teach you that, like, I can get your needs met to the point where they're like crying for Mom and I'm like holding them and my partners in the other room just like, you know, just waiting to run in and I remember I could for a while I'd get really upset, like when she would come in because I'd be like, hey, like what are we teaching our children that like they need you to console them but then in this reality of like, dude the kids' two, like she stopped breastfeeding six months ago. Like, of course she wants her mom in times of distress. Like don't take it personally, it's okay and like, you know, hand off but that's, that's, that's tough sometimes.
Oh, so tough, such an ego hit.
Your always like, I can do this. I can do this. So that, to be like I can't do this right now and like but it's reminder of like it's not, it's not about you, it's your kids.
Hey there. I'm popping in real quick to this episode to make sure that you know that the doors are open to the Village Membership! We only open the doors a couple times a year so that we can onboard folks and dive into this work together. The doors to the Village Membership are open until June 17th. So, do not sleep on this. Come, join us to have a village to turn to for support in this journey. You do not have to do this alone. And one of my favorite favorite things about the Village Membership is our app where people pop in with questions every single day, looking for support or tools or resources on this journey and we respond to every single one. It is the only place within Seed where you get direct access to the Seed team to make sure all your questions are answered. You get to lean on other people who are navigating these challenges too. So that, you know, you aren't alone and bounce ideas off of each other. It's been incredible to see folks building relationships with each other, just really showing up for one another. It's been a few months since the last time the doors were open and it's been incredible to see the growth with these parents inside the Village Membership already. Folks share their wins constantly because we're there to guide you in doing this work. When you join the Village Membership, you get weekly calls, weekly live Q&A's with us, you get access to a monthly Zoom to just hang out, and every single week we drop tangible things for you to focus on in your everyday life. You'll learn how to show up in a calm regulated manner, you'll learn how to let go of the idea of being a perfect parent and know that it's okay, to make mistakes along the way and how to navigate repair with your kids or with your partner or co-parent. This membership is for you if you really want to raise emotionally intelligent humans and you want support doing it. You want people to lean on and turn to, to have your questions answered, it's a space where you get to be in community with other people who are also doing this work. Come, join our shame-free Village Membership at seedandsew.org/membership. You can join now through June 17th, after June 17th, the doors are closed. Come join us now at seedandsew.org/membership, I cannot wait to see you inside the village.
Oh, that's so huge. And I love, love, love how you noted, just that like, you know, in your boundaries example that there can just be different approaches and really getting down to like, is this a core value that we’re disagreeing on or not? Because if it's, you know, giving one more hug before bedtime or whatever, like, probably not a core value issue, just a little different approach. And I think that those are huge to be able to examine and even to be able to sit down with a partner and say like here are my core values, like what are yours? And to be get real down and dirty with like these are the like non-negotiables for me or the things that like, are really important to me and for you to be able to recognize like and then what falls outside of that.
What's the stuff where I might do that differently, but it doesn't really come back to one of those core values.
Yeah. For sure.
Yeah. I think that's rad. Alright. Keegan. In your dream world, what would it look like for dads as they move into parenthood?
In my dream world for dads as they move into parenthood, we need to provide supports for dads prior to kids being born, you know, that's something that I've noticed, with, with moms, I noticed this with my partner, is that you know, they start doing these like prenatal appointments, prenatal yoga, breastfeeding classes, like they really start their these, there's so many opportunities for community to be created and there's and then you're getting these constant messages and in addition to like you're carrying a human inside your body. You are, you are 24/7 being like reminded of like, what is coming and as a father, that is not the case. Like, you're not carrying a child, you are, you know, if you're not able to, you may not be able to make all the appointments or even some of the appointments or any of the appointments you don't have like groups to go to and so I think even prior to the kid is born, there's like nine months of like messaging being told like whose job is this, whose role is this to raise this child? And so you know in terms of like a dream world is that we are developing programming and opportunities and groups and messaging, that's really meeting dad's early on in this process and really kind of letting them know. Hey, you don't have to wait for your kid to be born to be joining these and taking advantage of these opportunities, like, this doesn't need to be a reactive response. We can be proactive about this. And then I also want to be working with, you know, I look in this area that I'd like to develop a stronger relationship with a medical center in about, okay Dads are for the most part are there at some point in the birthing process and they're in the hospital. How are we accepting and engaging them in that process? I remember, when my second child was born and it was like day three, she had been in the NICU for a couple days and like, we're just exhausted and one of like, the team's comes in, they're like, all right, Dad come change the diaper and I'm like, okay, and I change it and, you know, I didn't do it properly. I didn't like totally clean up the diaper. And I remember the woman who was a higher ranking person at the hospital said, like all you dads are the same and I just remember like the fire in my eyes, I'm like, excuse me, like my kids' been in the NICU, I am, I'm tired. Like, I'm trying to change a diaper in front of, like, seven women here at this moment in time. Yes, I'm not doing it correctly, but that, like a comment like that. Do you have any idea? Like, like, here's a guy stepping up to the like, just just trying and we're pushing him back and, you know, that kind of experience. And from what I hear from folks is not, that's not a subjective experience. I think other folks also can feel that and so I want to look at like any point in the process, how are we making sure we're engaging dad's and then obviously, when the child is born, you know, how are we ensuring that, you know, Dad's aren't falling between the cracks and that we are providing a network of support for them. And I think that just really involves working closely with Community Partners and working with different communities. You know, I think in Burlington a really fantastic community here but obviously how we've been successful here is not going to be, is not the same way you're going to reach success in a in a rural town or in another state and then so, you know, we have a lot of ambitions to be working with different organizations and cities and towns around. Hey, how can we do a strength-based approach based on your community and your population and your needs that, that can really meet dads where they're at and how can you design something that can, you know, work in different locations? So I could talk a lot about my dream world for fatherhood support, but that's kind of like, you know, just a few little nuggets out there but there's a there's a lot that I could go on for hours.
00:48:09 Speaker 2
So far, I'm just like, yeah, keep going Keegan, I mean I'm here for it! Oh, man, that NICU comment, woof because the reality is like, shame has never changed behavior, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever and it blows my mind, how often we turn to it. Also, in parenting also, just like across the board where it's like man, and so it one of the things that came up for me when I was teaching, Going in. I was teaching infants at the time and we used an app in my classroom to communicate like, instead of a daily sheet for childcare. We used an app to communicate diapers and bottles and sleep and all that jazz. And there was one family, ever that Dad would, who like, checked the app and engaged as well. And not just Mom, and I, and the hetero families in our classroom, and Dad would like, I would get a message that was like oh man I saw she took a short nap this morning like she feeling okay? Like they would check in or at drop-off they like rotated who did drop off or pick up. He would be like yeah she was up a couple times last night, whatever knew her, and it was wild in childcare how incredibly rare that was the like dad knew how her overnight had been. He was using the app to like engage with us to rather than get the information through his partner. When they could both access the app on their phone and it like really stood out to me and I like right out the gates was like you're the only dad in my teaching experience where this has been the case and he was like oh yikes, like yeah right and I think that you know, as you were chatting about like how early we lay that messaging and like, you're so right like I did prenatal yoga and all these classes where I was building community all throughout pregnancy. So I entered into parenthood with a community of folks to call on and Zach didn't have any of that, right? He wasn't in prenatal yoga, he wasn't, sure he liked attended our breastfeeding class and whatever but like all the places where I built community in pregnancy, he, there wasn't a space for him and wild. I hadn't thought of that.
Yeah. And that like and real quick, I just want to clarify that was it was not a nurse in the NICU who made the comment. It was, it was someone back on the, like, regular floor, I just don't want the NICU getting getting any...
That's fair, NICU nurses, we love you.
So, it makes me think too like, so my partner in Burlington, there's Evolution Yoga studio, and they have a really robust program for, you know, prenatal and postnatal programming, and yoga and groups for moms and moms to be. And that was kind of where my my fatherhood work started. Where as my partner was doing this and then I think there's a comment of like yeah, we'd love to have like a dad group and my partner was like, Stephanie was like, hey, I think my partner would be down for that and so she asked me and I was like, yeah, like that sounds great. Let's do it. And and that's where things kind of started. We had a group that was nine months long, we met once a month, two hours once a month. And there were seven dads who came to it. And, you know, and it was it was so funny because I think all these guys like this didn't have places to talk about this stuff and pretty much every single one because my one of my first questions on day one was like, why are you here? And the most common response was because my, my wife made me. And you're like, and I remember being like, Oh No, No, but no one really wants to be here but I'm a firm believer in the like whatever gets you in the door. You are here and that's awesome. Like, good for you and then by month nine when we are wrapping up the question that came up the most was like, what do we do now? Like how do we keep this going? And that was really when I was like oh people are hungry for this, like dads are, like there's just no opportunities but when you create these opportunities and they're done in really intentional, meaningful, fun ways, guys like it. And so how do we how do we keep doing this?
Yeah. Oh I love it. I love it. What a cool group for, of course you were like yep! I'm on it! So you, will be the organizer. That's awesome. I, that would be awesome. Like, it's something I have, I've gone through Evolutions classes. That's where I've done my prenatal yoga, and we have a coffee hour on Saturdays. That again, it's open to anybody, but it's always moms or pregnant women and it is honestly, a lot of the conversation is around like stuff to do with our bodies that it might not be fun for a dude to just sit in, like, listen to. And I think that having, there is such a focus on like inclusivity in spaces. And I think that that's important too. And also I think it's okay to have separate groups like we have a Mama's Getaway Weekend and people are like, is there a thing for dads? And I'm like we would love to do a weekend for dads or for partners or something along those lines. And I think it's okay to have one that's specifically for moms, for us to have spaces where you can chat about the things that are unique to you in motherhood. Yes. And I think I've been having this conversation with a handful of folks lately around the like it's you know, especially as there's been increased conversations around like you know, racial equity and how are we ensuring that, you know, we're providing opportunities for everyone to get engaged in this kind of work while, also recognizing that there is an importance for affinity spaces, you know, when I think about like going back to that earlier part in the conversation about how you know, child upbringing has over the historically has been predominantly a mother's world and then you think about how many women have experienced trauma at the at the hands of men in a white supremacist patriarchy, a lot and then so when you have these spaces that are really transformative and really meaningful for moms and then you throw in a man, what does that do to the space? What does that do to the energy? And what does that do for people who have experienced trauma at the hands of men? And I think that's really concerning. And so, it's that question of, like, how do you? Yes, how do you create inclusive spaces? Where people can, you know, from all sexes, gender, sexual orientations can participate and then how, but then also, how do you create safe spaces for, you know, people how they identify who they are? And that there's a space for them to connect and gather because yes, I think that there's a space for mom's only, that's really important. Just like, there's, there should be a space for Dad's only just like, I think there should be a space for black dads and black mothers and, you know, lgbtq families, and grandparents and just like so many different varieties of caregivers. That's a conversation we've had lately, where, you know, we are a predominantly white group of Dad's.
Here in Vermont? Weird....
Yeah. Yeah. Here in Vermont and, you know, that's an easy one to be like, yeah, you know, we're in Vermont. So it's, you know, it's okay remember what most people are right here, but it's like, but you're also like, what else? What, you know, you're not, you're missing something here, they're still like there are there are fathers, who are people of color in our community who are...
Well, especially in our county.
Yeah. And so I think, you know, we've had conversations with, we've done, we've, you know, we're doing a lot of internal work and we've had conversations with folks around the like, you know, yes you can create this inclusive space. But like how do people really feel welcome there and someone who's has the identity of a black father? And the trauma that they've experienced and, you know, stepping into a group that's mostly white men, like, what is, what does that feel like? And so, you know, we're really examining like how do we support and how do we engage in the work around creating different, affinity groups and spaces for people with these different identities to meet and gather and support one another while also working together to ensure that everyone has equitable access to the same resources. And then how are we putting on events and groups and things together that, you know, are inclusively minded and so it's, you know, it's a larger conversation that we're working on. But yeah, I think, you know, I think sometimes the word in like, hey, this groups' inclusive, let's throw the word caregiver on it and we'll go with that. And it's like, yeah, it's great and it's a lot deeper than that and I think there's a lot more. It's not as simple as just throwing the word, caregiver on the name of your playground..
Totally, a thousand percent. Keegan where can people find Dad Guild and learn more about your organization and the rad stuff you're up to.
Yeah, so folks can go to dadguild.org. They can you know check out what we're up to. We have a newsletter you can access on there and just learn a little bit more about our organization. We have a growing presence on social media. So we are on Facebook and that's and you can sign up for our newsletter on our website as well.
Awesome, thank you so much for hanging out with me. Thanks for doing this work. And navigating these conversations and this, I think it's so tough because it's like the reality is it's going to be ongoing and it'll be a slower process than we ever want it to be ever, which is always, like, that's the bane of my existence. It's like, why is everything happening so slowly. But I like see day in and day out your commitment to it. And I'm so grateful.
And thanks so much for having me on the show today and like and yeah, I just really appreciate it and it just like, yeah, it feels. I forgot we were even doing a show like I was like, oh I just haven't seen Alyssa a year so that's just talking to you. So I just really appreciate that the opportunity to connect today.
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