*[BETA] Check back here often—this information is expanding and evolving daily.
WHAT: A dad’s group – currently called “The Dads” [proposed]
Would you have interest (for yourself or someone you care about) in a support group for dads?
We’re forming ideas to meet needs and give dads a voice.
Want to receive notification about how it unfolds? Answer some questions HERE.
WHO: For any man who is, had, or wants to be a Dad
WHERE: Online Zoom Meetings [proposed], and now there’s interest in a local, in-person meeting. Thoughts? (see SURVEY)
HOW-format: Using a 12-step meeting format
HOW-leadership: Facilitated by a licensed therapist (Kevin Bergen) [proposed]
COST: Open to contributions [proposed]
WHEN: On a weeknight [proposed]
PURPOSE: to meet regularly with like-minded men to discuss being a dad, laugh, challenge yourself and each other, learn, share, progress . . . and ???
IF YOU HAVE FURTHER INTEREST:
Take this brief survey to voice your interest and share your preferences about how this group would be run:
TAKE SURVEY HERE
- We’re planning to launch in the first quarter of 2021!
- You may receive an invite to some trial meetings of The Dads toward the end of January. Watch your emails (if you took the survey above).
Proposed Readings (that would be read aloud in each meeting)
The Dads is a fellowship of men who are, have, or aspire to be a Dad who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may meet the challenges and experience the joy of fatherhood and help others to do the same. The only requirement to participate is a desire to become more conscious than you were yesterday. There are no dues or fees for The Dads membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions for expenses, which may include a licensed facilitator’s time. The Dads is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause, religion, or philosophy. Our primary purpose is to stay conscious as Dads and help others to achieve a higher consciousness.
What is a Dad and What is The Dads?
We can only speak for ourselves personally and not for all dads. The specialized nature of The Dads can best be understood in terms of what we call “the Dad.” We define the Dad as a person with a Y chromosome who fulfills the primary masculine parental role in someone’s life and sometimes is their biological father. The Dad has taken himself out of the whole context of what serves him best. He has put his child’s best interest before his own. “Dad” has become one of his primary identities. Our situation is like that of a mother who naturally thinks of her child before herself. So it is with the Dad who no longer sees himself as a detached and independent individual.
Thus, for the Dad, any form of self-centeredness that is harmful to his child and not part of his own healthy self-care is progressively destructive to his child. These responsibilities were given to us as we chose to take action that made us fathers. But we have found that acceptance of these responsibilities are the key to happy and joyous fulfillment we could otherwise never know.
This will and should discourage many men who think to lightly become a father or take on the role of Dad. Until we accepted a level of maturity, until we understood the importance of a Dad in each person’s life, we did not give ourselves to this program of development. The Dads is for men who know they have no heavier responsibility and no greater opportunity for joy than to be a Dad, and their own enlightened self interest must tell them this.
As Dads, many of us felt inadequate, unworthy, alone, or unqualified. We sometimes felt frustrated or guilty because we didn’t match up to what we saw in other Dads.
We often felt disconnected from our kids, from our wives, and usually from other men. We rarely saw healthy friendships or mentorships among men, so we didn’t know to seek it. We tuned out with various forms of escape. Some of us turned to food, work, or video games. Some of us escaped through alcohol, drugs, sex, or gambling.
Our habits (of behavior or self-talk) made true intimacy impossible—impossible with wives, kids, friends, and even acquaintances. We could never know emotional intimacy with another because we became locked in the unreal. We went for the thrill or the distraction, because it bypassed intimacy and healthy connection. Escape from discomfort corrupted healthy self-care; avoidance killed healthy intimacy.
We saw that our responsibilities as a Dad were threefold: physical, emotional, and spiritual. We wanted progression to come about in all three.
The crucial change in attitude began when we admitted we couldn’t do this alone, that the lone warrior image was based on myth. We came to meetings and withdrew from our isolating habits. For some, this meant opening up with our wives, friends, mentors, and a Higher Power. For others it also meant engaging in deeper work to understand how vulnerability and teachability are more means to strength and mastery than evidence of weakness.
We discovered that we could open up with appropriate people, that honest vulnerability didn’t kill our masculinity, that stoic individualism was indeed optional. There was hope for peace and true confidence, and we began to feel alive. Encouraged to continue, we turned more and more away from our escape behaviors and self justification and turned to our Higher Power and others.
All this was scary. Some of us couldn’t see the path ahead, except that others had gone that way before. Each new step toward healthy intimacy felt it would be off the edge into oblivion, but we took it. And instead of killing us, surrender was killing the discomfort, the hesitancy, and the fear! We had stepped into the light, into a whole new way of life as a man.
The fellowship of The Dads gave us monitoring and support to keep us from being overwhelmed, a safe haven where we could finally face ourselves. Instead of covering our feelings with compulsive behaviors and thoughts, we began exposing the roots of our loneliness and hunger. And healing began.
As we faced our defects, we became willing to change; surrendering them broke the power they had over us. We began to be more comfortable with ourselves and others for the first time without our protective wall.
Learning to forgive all who had injured us, and without injuring others, we tried to right our own wrongs. At each amends more of the dreadful load of guilt dropped from our shoulders, until we could lift our heads, look the world in the eye, and stand free.
We began living a positive life (doing good instead of not doing harm). We began taking the actions of courage to improve our relations with others. We were learning how to give; and the measure we gave was the measure we got back. We were making real connections. We were better off. Our kids were far better off.
The Twelve Steps of The Dads
1. We admitted that we were powerless without connection and our drive for temporal, emotional, and spiritual self-sufficiency had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to healthy interdependence.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power, whether God, mentor, or professional.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another man the exact nature of our strengths and challenges.
6. Were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all our defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to help us learn from our challenges and build on our strengths.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power as we understood Him, asking only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a cognitive, emotional, and spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other Dads and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
A Vision for Dads
We realize we know only a little. Your Higher Power will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him each morning what you can do each day for another Dad who wants to improve. The answers will come if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the great fact for us.
Abandon yourself to your Higher Power however you understand Him. Admit your faults to Him and to other Dads. Clear away mistakes in your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and watch over you! Until then . . .