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“Grampsy, you know, you’re not like a normal grandfather,” seven year-old Jesse exclaimed during my most recent visit with her and her sister in a New York suburb. Although I’m now back at home in the greater DC area, I’m still smiling as I think about her comment, made while we were jumping together on the backyard trampoline. As we bounced I asked her what she meant by “normal.” “Well, Grampsy,” she said, “Normal grandfathers don’t go on trampolines with their grandchildren.” I responded, “Maybe we need to rethink what being a ‘normal grandfather’ means.” This led to a brief and interesting discussion, intermittently punctuated by my inability to picture my own grandfather without a tie around his neck. He died in 1962, a time when the role of grandfather was a lot more formal.

In this maiden (whoops) blog entry for FamiliesRising, it seems apropos, to begin with a question about what “normal” is, especially as posed to an adult by a child. The child in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, not fully encumbered by social habits that suggest it’s impolite to tell it like it is, tells it like it is. MomsRising, since its founding on Mothers’ Day a year ago, has been describing the naked truth about core family issues; it is leading a grassroots, online citizen advocacy movement that works “toward cultural and political change to build a more family-friendly America.” As its citizen membership builds to 100,000+, and more than 75 “aligned national organizations” multiply its efforts, Fathers’ Day is a perfect time to launch FamiliesRising, its new “mirror organization.” Because the core family issues articulated by MomsRising are indeed family issues, the launch of FamiliesRising seems a crucial next step in the evolution of this important and necessary movement to create a genuinely “family-friendly America.”

Launching on Fathers’ Day is appropriate and smart. Specifically reaching out to dads to join these efforts acknowledges the fact that dads are increasingly equal partners in families. Creating a new logo featuring a dad facing Rosie the Riveter, and also holding a young child, would convey the idea that dads are fully equal partners in this movement. The inclusion of fathers in this movement – and perhaps kids later on – will assure that the result(s) will be greater than the sum of its parts.

As a “core blogger” for FamiliesRising I’ve been asked to introduce myself, in what is planned as a bi-weekly blog entry. You’ve already correctly deduced that I’m a grandfather. In that role I’m continually reminded of what is really important by my two grandsons and three granddaughters (ranging from 1 through 10 years-old). Obviously, before I was a granddad, I must have been a dad. I’m the exuberant father of three adult daughters (37, 39, and 41 years-old) and three sons-in-law – they live in New Mexico, New York, and Virginia, with their families. And before I became a dad, I was a son. It may seem superfluous to include my status as a son, but I include it because it is these three perspectives – grandparent, parent, son – that will inform my blog entries.

Because the entries will focus on growing-up, parenting, grandparenting, and education, it may be important for you to know that I will also utilize my experiences as: a lifelong educator (I’ve taught all the way from graduate school up to nursery school – and I’ve been an elementary school principal and founding Executive Director of the National Elementary School Center); parenting coach; freelance writer; policy advisor and child/family activist; and I’m currently President/CEO of DADS Unlimited. If you’d like more info, feel free to explore, and go to my bio in the “About Us” section, and to the “Allan’s Personal Statement” in the “Parenting Coaching Services” section.

I’m thinking about beginning each blog entry with a “warning label” that says Reading this may cause you to think about your parenting in a new way. If you want an example of what I mean, feel free to read the attached article, Goodbye, “Mr. Mom,” distributed worldwide last month by The New York Times/Hearst News Service.

I’m thrilled to have been invited to blog in this inaugural FamiliesRising initiative. I look forward to blogging with you and I would be delighted if my words provoke and encourage dialogue. In the meantime, Happy Fathers’ Day, see you in two weeks –

Allan, Daddying/ Grampsy Guy

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