What I Learned From Bringing Dads Together

We had our first in-person Lead Dad event at The Two Roads Brewing Company yesterday, and what I learned wasn’t at all what I expected. I’m still processing it all, but here are a couple of things I learned.

I was nervous that we would be able to translate what we are building at The Company of Dads online to a physical space. What we had was different and thrillingly so.

I was also nervous that people wouldn’t show up. The Sunday I picked a year ago seemed ideal on paper. Not a Saturday, which is chock full of family activities. And between Memorial Day and Father’s Day. Still, there were graduations and travel team playoffs that I hadn’t accounted for, and last-minute changes of plan that mounted that morning. But at one point, as Lead Dads were talking and laughing, I relaxed: they were here, and they were having fun.

Adult men can make new friends, and community helps. No one who came knew each other beforehand and everyone was talking. It was a mix of men from different parts of Connecticut who had different jobs and kids at different ages. Some had wives who were commuting, some had wives who worked locally, one was divorced. But we were all Lead Dads and that was what brought us together.

We challenged masculine norms and won. We had no TV with sports on (though we told some sports stories). We had no games, not even a corn hole board. We had tables and chairs. We were face to face, not shoulder to shoulder. The conversation and community carried the day. We did have beer, but all the different Two Roads’ varieties to choose from served as a story starter, not a crutch.

Even in the silent moments, no one fell back on easy jokes. We asked questions or shared a story that served to redirect the talk. And we were glad to have come together in a new type of community that reflects the changing way we work, parent, live, care and socialize in a post-pandemic world.