According to the study conducted in 2014, American dads spend triple the time with their little kids than dads in the 1960s. And while many treat fathers as bumbling babysitters, millennial dads want to be deeply involved in parenting.
In 2008, Lance Somerfeld and Matt Schneider partnered to create the City Dads Group, an online community that offers education and support to dads. The idea is to share personal parenting experience and help each other on the way. Matt and Lance are former teachers at the largest school in the Bronx and they have a lot to share with expecting dads.
How the City Dads Group Was Born
They say being a new parent is really hard. Lance said when you take something on, you want to be really good at this and you can be perfect at parenting. It requires strength, resilience and patience. Lance said Matt helped him a lot – they got together every week and spoke about their plans, dreams and difficulties.
Lance said there are lots of programs for new moms but almost nothing for dads. However, he could only find one program that helps dads – Park Bench for Fathers. It gave them an idea of their own City Dads Group.
The Way to Success
They started very small. They had two other dads that would make plans to meet up. And 10 years ago that was a big deal. They said they got lots of gawking looks and they realized the importance of their group.
Lance and Matt saw plenty of Mommy and Me classes with the buffet of activities, but nothing for fathers, like it was something unnatural. They said they just wanted to create something where dads could get together and talk.
Matt and Lance wanted to create educational opportunities so they offer a three-hour class where expecting dads can learn about being a parent. They also invite fathers with newborns so that expecting fathers could get a real experience before they have their own baby.
Dads who moved to other cities from New York started their own communities. Matt and Lance assembled new groups in Chicago and Los Angeles and started to receive financial support. Now, City Dads Group is national. They still exist in major cities only but share their experience online.
Lance and Matt said it doesn’t matter what city you live in because they invest in people. They want dads who share their vision and want to create opportunities for fathers to get with each other. They need members who are invested in the upbringing of their children’s life. Everything else doesn’t matter.
What about the Paternal Leave?
One of the important subjects discussed in the group is paternal leave and work/life balance in general. Even though many employers offer paternal leave, many men don’t take advantage of it. Lance and Matt said that many men feel vulnerability that their position might be in jeopardy.
Today, the flagship, NYC, has around 1800 members and the group is growing, with over 10,000 members in other cities. Now, dads have a great opportunity to meet like-minded men and share their stories and struggles.