As an adult Jewish man, I feel it is my responsibility to use my gifts to help make our world a healthier place by teaching what I know.
One of the gifts I received from my parents was the experience of growing up in a home with two mature adults who shared respect, love and intimacy. My exposure to this type of parental relationship helped me know that these qualities are real and palpable. I saw them, felt them through my childhood and wanted them for myself as an adult.
Knowing that respect, love and intimacy exist and creating these experiences are two different things. I have spent the better part of 18 years of marriage and 11 years as the full-time at-home parent to our four children figuring out how to create the type of home in which two mature adults respect and love each other while enjoying ever-elusive intimacy in the midst of raising kids.
While there is no perfect, I have figured out principles, systems and skills that work when combined with the unified goal of creating a respectful, healthy, intimate marriage. This type of family dynamic is totally within reach.
I have been learning, studying and practicing the skills and behaviors to be the best husband, father and man possible. I have become sensitive to the epidemic of fatherlessness and the real effects that the lack of an emotionally and physically engaged, mature, responsible man at home has on our committed partners, our children and our communities.
This is why I created “The Hero Dad” classes and “The Hero Dad’s Infant Manual”: to create healthier families and to empower my fellow man, who may not have been exposed to the behaviors and skills it takes to be successful at the job of fatherhood and husbandhood with a baby.
“The Hero Dad’s Infant Manual” is for men of all backgrounds, married or unmarried, gay or straight, adoptive or birth parent, looking to learn relevant skills in terms of their changing roles and responsibilities.
Men transitioning into fatherhood can learn my systems in Atlanta at Piedmont Hospital and other venues.
Over the past 15 years I have had the privilege of guiding more than 1,000 men through the beginning of fatherhood. When we talk in class about the relationships we had and have with our fathers, the most common desire is that our father figures would have been better at communicating and better at understanding us on a deeper level.
The foundational principle I teach new dads is that relevant behaviors earn us the respect we are looking for and enable us to co-create the relaxed home we desire, where love and intimacy can exist.
One of the many systems I teach in “The Hero Husband” class, which is the next level offered after “The Hero Dad,” is my Listening to Understand System.
The oldest stereotype about men is that we do not listen, but that is not a funny joke. I believe it is the main roadblock for our growth as men, husbands and fathers.
This is a touchy subject, and when we look back, it is easy to understand why many men have difficulty. In the past we did not have to listen or understand. Our roles were just different. We earned respect by working hard, bringing home the pay, going off to war, and that was enough. We sacrificed our time at home and our lives to provide a better future for our wives and children.
As times have changed, many of us are holding on to the old ways — the old “man code,” so to speak — and it is wreaking havoc on our families and society.
What if we men took responsibility for not practicing the listening skill in the past and decided to become better listeners? What if we were better able to understand our children and partners on a deeper heart level?
Listening and understanding may seem wimpy to a macho man; however, if you ask a modern woman or a child who is spending days glued to a screen instead of having meaningful interactions with a husband/father, you will get disagreement about that wimpiness.
There may not be a more relevant, masculine behavior we could learn and demonstrate to our modern families than understanding on a deeper level.
Fatherhood and our growth as men are not all figured out with one book or in one day.
“The Hero Dad” classes offer a progression of growth and learning for those men open to improvement in this area. My shorter, basic class prepares men to be relevant when the baby arrives by knowing how to manage an infant confidently and how to support a partner through the postpartum period after the baby comes home.
Although my classes are for men only, I invite a female expert on postpartum depression and anxiety, Amber Koter of Beyond Birth Atlanta, into class when we discuss postpartum depression and related disorders, which surprisingly are the most common complication of childbirth.
An amazing postpartum doula and expert on supporting women with perinatal mood disorders, Amber helps me give new fathers the most relevant toolkit from the male and female perspectives to be as prepared as possible to support our partners in the vulnerable days and weeks after birth.
“The Hero Husband” class is the next level, and the motto is “Prepare Rather Than Repair.” We learn skills and systems to understand our roles and responsibilities in creating the intimacy 85 percent of folks report to be missing.
This class also has a partner component. We bring our partners in to practice our understanding skills and create our goals for continued intimacy and connection.
The best gift we can give our children is the experience of growing up in a home with two mature adults who share respect, love and intimacy.