Sometimes It Takes a Village to Raise a Dad

Post contributed by Plum Parents member Mike Heenan

I grew up without much of my dad. Practically the poster child for 1980’s family dysfunction, I latch-keyed my way through adolescence, rudderless and void of positive male role models or father-figure surrogates. Mom worked constantly to make ends meet and, due to distances and substances, I saw my dad from time-to-time on the weekends.

That was my origin story. Ever since, I’ve been determined to turn the page, write a better ending for my young daughters. But having never been exposed to men who were actively engaged in the lives of their children, with zero experience with babies or even siblings of my own, where was a new dad to look for examples of positive fathering to draw from?

I’ll tell you where. The burgeoning brotherhood of fatherhood. At first, I found a community of like-minded, modern dads online. We started with one common denominator: we were all dads. From there, we shared stories and advice, driven by a desire to learn the ropes from each other.

I’ve also surrounded myself with dads in my community. It was important for me to create meaningful connections with those that shared similar priorities to me. I joined the San Francisco Dads Group, an in-person Meetup group of diverse and determined fathers from all over the Bay Area who get together regularly for friendship, support, family events, and parenting conversation.

I continue to gain insights and wisdom, near-daily, from these men. I peruse long-form stories about raising empathetic kids in a society that’s seemingly so self-serving. I read brief pieces about navigating young daughters through their first periods and cultivating emotional intelligence in young sons. I attend family hikes and kid-friendly concerts and socialize my young girls in this adventurous community of kids and parents. I’ve found comfort in universal quips about those infamous diaper blowouts and found solace whenever I feared I was doing it all wrong myself.

And through this community of modern dads, I found Plum Organics. Through Plum Organics, I’ve discovered not only the obvious – a dedicated and community-conscious B Corp, determined to stamp out food-insecurity in families and provide nutritious delicious foods for my kids at all stages of their development – but also another extension of my own family.

The friendships that the Plum Parents program has fostered; the relationships I’ve made with other dads at Plum’s epic Parents Night Out; and the opportunities I’ve had to give back to the community that has been so good to us have all been completely indispensable to this dad of young kids who is finding his own fatherhood way, via a community of thousands in this brotherhood of fatherhood.

I know my own dad loved me very much and, circumstances aside, would be proud of my passion and commitment to parenting. I can only hope to pay it forward to the dads who come behind me, by documenting this whole magnificent adventure, for posterity.

Mike spends his time seeking Bay Area adventure with his two young girls, working on his website, his photography and organizing myriad experiences and opportunities for the families in the SF Dads Group. Keep up with him and all of our Plum Parents here