Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

June 17, 2013

Dad on Purpose: Helping men become stronger parents

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — To a child, the word “daddy” often elicits a sense of security, love and knowledge, and he's often the role model they look to as they grow and mature.

But sometimes, even daddies need guidance when it comes to being the best parent possible.

Thanks to a collaboration between Steven Day and Chris Taylor, men can find encouragement through www.dadonpurpose.com, a new website that offers a fresh, honest look at parenting through a daddy's eyes.

The two friends, who have known each other for a number of years, “had spent countless hours discussing parenting and relationships, and for at least a year, we frequently discussed how we might be able to impact the lives of other dads,” said Day, who with wife Ashley, has a 12-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.

“Finally we decided to step out and do SOMETHING, so 'Dad on Purpose' was built and our first article was published on Jan. 8, 2013.”

Their goal was to let men “know that they are not alone and that resources exist,” added Taylor. “And there are not as many resources for fathers as there are for moms, so it's important to make this one available and accessible.”

Navigating the Dad on Purpose website, one finds a variety of topics, such as death – “These are critical moments for us as dads,” Day writes; “Our children are watching us, ready to learn how to deal with heavy issues such as death and loss” – the need to build healthy relationships (Taylor: “The damage fathers can do is enormous. Society would like to tell you that we don't matter … fathers are a relic, once quite central to the family, but no longer necessary. And the myth grows and grows because we also, sometimes ourselves, buy into that lie”), and marriage: “When we completely pour ourselves into the lives of those who we are responsible for, this is where we find healing and satisfaction” (Day).

The writing is from the heart, full of honest and insightful observations, delivered in an easy to follow style.

“We aren't psychologists, we aren't rich and we didn't come from perfect homes – we have both been committed to learing and challenging ourselves to be better, more engaged dads, and we are convinced that there are lots of dads just like us,” Day said. “By reading about real-world situations and serious issues, we hope other men can learn through our failures and successes and, in turn, make their families stronger.”

Their backgrounds as “regular dads” – Day is a professional web developer, while Taylor is executive director of Cherokee County Public Health – allows them to focus on those issues other men may face as they, too, parent.

“Ultimately, our audience is any man interested in bettering himself as a dad, and who is willing to sacrifice and stretch and educate himself,” Day said.

Their approach has garnered positive, encouraging feedback from men – and women.

“To be quite honest, I have experienced as much, if not more, enthusiasm from the moms because of how much they recognize the impact that an amazing father can have on a child, especially a daughter,” Day said.

Taylor – who with his wife Stephanie have four children ranging in age from three to 12 – agreed.

“We have enjoyed a positive response from those who have viewed the resources, dads and moms alike. They enjoy hearing that other dads go through the same thing. And the moms have been glad that dads have a resource that explains things from a perspective of growth and opportunity.”

For now, the men find biggest challenge “is knowing what steps to take (because) there is so much information out there, from every perspective imaginable,” Day said.

But, he added, “if we reach even one man, impact his life and cause him to engage and love his children in a more (psychologically, emotionally) intimate way, we have achieved our goal – to cause even one man to live as a focused father by deciding to be a Dad On Purpose.”

In a nutshell, it's about helping daddies create a strong, positive, legacy for their children

“We hope that legacy will be to empower fathers, to grow ourselves and our community and to challenge the current portrayal of fathers in society by changing the image, one dad at a time,” Taylor said.