Updated: Jul 7
If you're out in the city and happen to come across a group of happy dads wielding baby strollers, diaper bags and tiny tots in baby carriers you might just have stumbled upon one of America's most popular Dad's Groups called City Dads Group. These social daddy groups are the brainchild of 2 ex New Yorker public school teachers who felt isolated after becoming the primary caregivers in their home. Lets face it - Moms have plenty of social opportunities with other moms but stay at home dads can feel a little left out. So Lance and Matt decided to do something about it by starting NY City Dads Group. With over 12 000 members in 36 cities and expanding into Canada these daddy groups have become a whole lot more than social gatherings.
At what point did you realize that the little fathers group you has started was going to be much bigger than you thought? We started NYC Dads Group in 2008 thinking it would be an opportunity to bring other at-home dads together. Soon after we started the group, we realized that it wasn't just at-home dads that wanted to connect and socialize as we saw dads of all stripes joining. From then on, we wanted to make sure all dads felt welcome, whether they were working at home or in an office, whether they were single or married, whether they were gay or straight. We also realized early that dads were not participating in many spaces and conversations related to parenting and family life. We started to use our blog and social media to be a voice for the dads on issues like creating a good parenting partnership, navigating the workplace as a parent, and marketing to parents in a way that doesn't make dads look like buffoons. The opportunity to both create a community of dads in real life and then to represent that community on important issues fueled our passion for the work and the growth to other cities.
Who is your typical member? In general, the members of our groups are active and engaged dads trying to be the best parent they can be. We are not trying to convince anybody that dads matter or that dads should be involved in their kids' lives. We are imperfect, but all in on family. Do you get dads with full time jobs attending with their kids? We do, especially when dads with full-time jobs help to run the group. We strive to create groups that meet the needs of all types of dads, so our goal is to have a diverse team that is planning events at different times, on different days of the week, doing a variety of activities, and in different locations across the city.
Besides the meetups, events and playdates does the organization offer any support to fathers? Our City Dads Group blog welcomes writing from members of our community. We produce the Modern Dads Podcast to connect our community with authors, journalists, experts, and other dads. In New York City, we also host New Dad Boot Camps, a three-hour workshop for expecting dads to learn from dads that have just had babies. We are also currently working with sponsors to fight for a national paid family leave law that includes dads, and to add changing tables to men's restrooms.
We were super excited to see you offer New Dad Boot camps. This is so needed. Can you share some of the basic training they receive at boot camp? During the course of the three hours, a trained member of NYC Dads Group facilitates a conversation between expecting dads and dads that bring their new babies to class. We discuss creating a parenting partnership, navigating family relationships (ie. how to set the guidelines for eager family that want to help), and some of the basics around identifying post-partum depression and creating a baby-safe home. The best part of the class though is the expecting dads seeing the veteran dads care for their baby during the session, and even getting the opportunity to hold a baby or change a baby's diaper for the first time. What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing modern dads? I always say that this is the best time in the history of humanity to be a dad. The definition of what it means to be a good dad has expanded beyond just being a provider or disciplinarian. We now get to care for our children and family physically and emotionally, which brings a whole new set of rewards and challenges. We have a lot to learn from women that have been working for decades on managing the full breadth of family life.
We see you have groups in many US cities. What can our dads do if there isn't a group in their city - is it easy to start a group? Starting and running a group is not easy. We are looking for dads that are motivated not only to find some dad friends for himself but also to work towards building a community and resource for fathers across a metropolitan area. At this point, our resources are limited, so we are focused on large metropolitan areas. That said, we often provide advice and support to guys that are creating dads groups in smaller places. [Start a Group]
Do you have any plans to make City Dads Group global?
To be honest, most of this has not been planned! We are open to working with dads in cities outside the United States, but we are not currently planning groups beyond the United States and Canada.
NYC Dad Group Founders
Lance Somerfeld, a former public school teacher, is a stay at-home dad and resides in New York City with his family. He has written for New York Family magazine, Huffington Post, Time Out Kids, Big Apple Parent, Role/Reboot and The Good Men Project. He is the co-organizer for NYC Dads Group, spearheading a variety of active meetups for over 1,800 engaged fathers.
Matt Schneider, a stay at home dad and fellow New Yorker, also used to be a public school teacher. Matt plans workshops, screenings, and lectures with parenting, family, and education experts on behalf of the group. Matt has written for New York Family magazine, Huffington Post, Big Apple Parent, Role/Reboot and The Good Men Project.