Welcome to Issue #20 of The New Fatherhood. Milestone alert.
OK. Deep breath. Here goes.
One of the biggest things I've learned since starting this back in January is just how many of us are in a similar space. Not physically—there’s 1,766 of you, spread over the globe—but mentally, and emotionally.
Fatherhood has an uncanny ability to bring it all to the surface. Your insecurities start bumping into your fears and your long-term vision goes haywire. You feel you might be losing your footing. And the lack of sleep obviously doesn’t help.
Becoming a father untethers you from your old life. Old routines, lost in time. Childless friends don't understand why you’re not out so much anymore. Searching for new ways of belonging, moving between new groups of people, floating away from previous friendships. Some of these new people are great. But, with others, there's a creeping realisation that all you have in common is the fact you live in the same city and happened to get pregnant at the same time.
There's so much to think about. To talk about. To share. Fatherhood opens these floodgates and gives us permission to talk about how we feel. And, for many of us, it's the first time we start feeling comfortable feeling our feelings (a lot of feelings there, right?) And once we start doing that—as I've seen here—we want to delve deeper, to share these insights, and foster deeper connections with other people who are feeling them too.
And truly? Sometimes, it's easier to be open and honest with people you don't know. The amount of times I've had an email saying "I haven't really shared this with anyone before but ..." It's not by accident that Frank Ocean reveals his sexuality to a stranger in Bad Religion (“Taxi driver, be my shrink for the hour, leave the meter running.”) Talking to strangers can feel safer. They won’t tell. You don’t have to expose your vulnerabilities to someone you know and worry how they’ll react (at least not at first.) Paradoxical it may be, but we’re sometimes at our most insecure with those closest to us; more comfortable being open with strangers than friends.
I started The New Fatherhood because I couldn't find anything else out there that scratched this itch for me: a space for men to talk about the maelstrom of emotions that fatherhood ushers in. I'm getting exposed to more writing in this space, but (and of course I’m biased) I truly think what's happening here is unique. Because, like I said from day one, this thing isn't about me. It's about us. I've learned so much from listening to you. I think we're building the start of something very special here. A new way of thinking about fatherhood that has transformative power. I'm ecstatic that it's attracting a group of dads I want to hang out with.
"If the chairs are all facing the front of the room, that's an audience. If the chairs are facing each other, that’s a community." @rosiesherry
I have a Notion page called "Saplings". It’s filled with ideas in various states of development. A long list of things I'm thinking about for the future. Starting a community was something I thought I'd get to eventually: a safe space where people who were thinking differently about fatherhood could connect, and push each other to be better. After spending a few months talking to you all, I'm convinced that now is the right time to do it. The last year has put so much strain on our relationships, our jobs, and our mental health, that it's more important than ever to have somewhere we can be heard, and to listen. I want to commit to building the perfect place for fathers to connect, wherever they are in their journey to being better: for themselves, for their partners, for their friends, and for their children.
So, this is me setting out my vision for the future and asking you to become a paid subscriber of The New Fatherhood.
Paid? Didn't you say this thing was going to stay free?
Don't worry. Nothing is going to change! The New Fatherhood you know will stay the same. Everything you've been getting will continue to be free: the main newsletter every Tuesday and the discussion thread on a Friday. I'll continue to keep the whole thing ad-free (apologies again to the nice people who've been asking me to put adverts in here, but it's a no.) But for those of you who want to support The New Fatherhood, and connect with other fathers who are also on this journey, here's your chance.
So, what am I paying for then?
Access to The New Fatherhood private community, a group of like-minded men helping each other become the best dads we can be. We'll be chatting about the highs and lows of parenting, tips for mental health and wellbeing, and sharing interesting things we've found.
An additional set newsletters every month (two at first, but probably more) covering new topics and formats: like Q&As with interesting fathers who seem to have "figured it out", "Ask Me Anything" features with some leading thinkers, dissections of seminal pieces of fatherhood media, recommendations of activities and things to do with your kids, and more.
A monthly "un-book club". I'm stealing this brilliant idea from Ness Labs, turning the idea of the book club on it's head: read whatever you want, and once a month we'll come together to talk about the best thing we've read, and what we learned from it.
A whole load more that I'm still working out but will include (and not be limited to) virtual events, courses, interviews, tools and more. Lot's of things to help you on your journey to be a better dad.
A say in the future of The New Fatherhood. As you can see from the previous point, I don't have it all figured out yet. If you're willing, I want your input into what this could become.
Also, I want to continue elevating and representing diverse viewpoints of fatherhood, and fairly compensating those people for their writing / design / creative work.
A private community? Sounds great. How will that work?
Over the last few weeks I've spent an ungoldly amount of hours researching and testing different apps to figure out what’s right. There’s a lot of products out there that promise to help. But there’s something they’ve all got in common. They’re all various levels of janky and are more focused on how to help “creators monetise” than a great user experience for the people who will be using them.
So I've decided to go with one you might already know: Slack. I know what you’re thinking: Slack is for work! Yes, but doesn't having kids feel like another full-time job sometimes?! There's a lot of reasons that why Slack feels right for what we have here:
It's private, so you can be open and vulnerable with a group of like-minded dads and it'll stay behind closed doors.
You can use your real name, but you don't have to.
It won't be something you have to stay on top of—you can dive in and out at your leisure.
It's easy to use, and—depending on your job—you might already know how.
You can stay quiet, and lurk in the background, if you like.
There's no pressure at all: I want it to feel like chatting to a bunch of other dads at a coffee shop, or sitting in the pub with a group of very interesting men who happen to have kids too.
OK, so what does it cost?
Oh man, the million dollar question. Or, to be more accurate, the $6 a month question. Yup, that's it. I thought that the price of one beer / two coffees a month feels about right. If you pay annually, it'll be $60 a year, and for the first week I'm going to knock it down a little more to $50.
What if I can't pay?
Money should never be a barrier to becoming a better father. So if you want access to the full New Fatherhood experience, but truly can't afford it, reply to this email or get in touch here and I will gift you a subscription, no questions asked.
Well that's very nice of you.
Thank you, person pretending to ask questions. If you'd like to cover the cost of these additional subscriptions, consider signing up at the "Philanthropist" level and your fee will cover the cost for another two dads.
What to expect from me this week
As I'm turning on paid subscriptions and welcoming some of you into the community, expect to see me in your inbox a little more this week. Tomorrow I'll include the second part of the weekly email, with interesting links, tweets, some excellent parenting Tiktoks and more. On Thursday, I'll do an Ask Me Anything (drop your questions here) where I'll answer each and every question you have on The New Fatherhood and what's going on behind the scenes. And then on Friday we'll wrap up the week with our weekly discussion thread.
Like I said: I don't have this all figured out. But, if I'm honest, I had no idea when I started this what it would be, and it's already exceeded every expectation I had. I don’t know all the answers yet. But—as Tony has captured perfectly in the illustration, which I’m adding again because, I mean, look at it—I'd love us to figure it out as we build the future of The New Fatherhood together.