8 North Carolina Dads Featured in New Book


Austin Dowd, a Raleigh dad, and I met through the National At Home Dad Network. At the 2015 National At-Home Dad Convention, Austin and I discussed his idea about shooting environmental portraits of dads and how to turn it into a coffee table book about dads.

I loved the idea and suggested adding a form with questions for dads to answer and also add photos of dads with their kids. The result was pure gold with dads opening up and sharing endearing photos of them with their kids and intimate facets of fatherhood.

"DADLY Dads: Parents of the 21st Century" is the first coffee table book of its kind in the book industry. The book, which will be available in June, features 115 dads from a variety of family dynamics and 11 countries. Of the 115 there are eight dads who live in North Carolina. Henry Amador-Batten of Durham; Jerred Copeland, Wes Hall and Daniel Wilkerson of Cary; James Kline of Apex; Scott Price and Dylan Ward of Holly Springs; and Darrell Humphrey of Charlotte.

Austin and I created this coffee table book for the sole purpose of educating the world about the true image of dads as parents, which embodies the same kind of unconditional love, compassion and dedication that exists in moms as parents. This book is a friendly invitation to embrace a view of dads from a different lens than the one our culture and media’s constant portrayal of dads as incompetent, bumbling parents who are not as trustworthy as moms and could never raise a child and/or be the primary caregivers as well as moms.

We don’t know how or why this negative stereotyping of dads started and continues to exist today. What we do know is that the buck needs to stop here in the best interest of the KIDS!

To demonstrate the importance of why our positive message about today’s modern dads should be important to society and especially the kids who will eventually become future parents, we’d like to highlight stories about two dads, and also share our observations about how these daily occurrences deliver the wrong kind of message. 

Story No. 1

One day a mom gave a neighborhood dad the best compliment she could give him. She entrusted the care of her child to him. However, a week later she called the dad on the telephone and said, “I can no longer leave my child in your care.”

“Why?” He asked.

“I’m sorry. But my husband will not allow it anymore.”

Story No. 2

After a dad and teenage son arrived at their neighborhood community pool and sat in the lounge chairs, two moms approached the dad and said, “We don’t think it would be appropriate for you to sit next to these teenage girls.”

The dad obliged the moms and he and his son left the area and found another place to sit.

In both of these unfortunate scenarios, the husband and two moms rushed to an unfair judgment of the dad’s character. We feel there is another option they never considered in handling their concerns about the dads.

In the first story, the husband could have scheduled a personal phone call and/or meeting with the dad to get to know him better. During that time the dad would more than likely feel comfortable trusting his child in the care of this dad. This is a courtesy many parents provide to people they meet for the first time, such as babysitters, daycare providers and preschool teachers.

In the second story, the two moms could have also exercised the following approach.

“Hello, my name is Cathy and this is Stacey. We’ve never seen or met you before and would like to welcome you to the pool. If there is anything you need, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help.”

This kind of warm and welcoming introduction increases the chances of a more positive outcome and also squelches any fears and concerns the moms may have had about the dad.  

What we feel is also disappointing about the second story is that the dad and two moms overlooked how they contributed to the unfortunate stigma about dads not being good parents and passed it on to the teenage kids, who will more than likely become the next generation of parents.

For the boy there is the emotional trauma of watching two women emasculate his dad. His dad also did not serve as a good role model by surrendering to these two moms' unwarranted request.

The dad had another option: He could have used this as an opportunity to educate the moms and demonstrated to his son, in a constructive way, how to stand up for masculinity, for his role as a dad and for other dads in his position. He could have said:

“I’m sorry you feel this way ladies. My name is David. I live in this neighborhood. I’m here to enjoy the community pool with my son and chose these lounge chairs to sit with him. I’d like to assure you that I’m not a threat to these teenage girls. I would like to ask you ladies a question. What did you just teach these teenage girls with your request for me to leave and find another place to sit?”

The truth is that the community pool is a public place, in which a person is allowed to freely choose where to sit. Also, the dad did not pose a threat to the teenage girls, but more importantly, the moms may have taught the teenage girls to fear and not trust men.

Our message to parents is to consider the first course of action, which is to get to know the man behind the title of dad, before rushing to judgment.

We’d like to briefly share information about some of the exceptional dads you will meet in this book.

Patrick Emerson, a California dad who works as a deckhand on a supply boat that runs crew and cargo offshore for the oil rigs in Santa Barbara. His work schedule requires him to be away from his family for a week at a time.

Richard Blake, a Colorado dad who serves as the primary caregiver for his family.

Mike Beltran, a California single dad who received full custody of his son and works as a referee.

Kelly Farley, an Illinois dad who, in an 18-month period, experienced the loss of two babies: daughter Katie in 2004, and son Noah in 2006.

Mark Goblowsky, a Nebraska single dad whose son, Josh, suffered a massive traumatic brain injury due to a hit-and-run accident. Josh must wear a helmet for his safety and struggles to function like a normal person.

David Drysdale, a United Kingdom dad of two children. At the time we invited David to share his story, he was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, David died peacefully before the publication of this book on July 4, 2016. (Austin and I would also like to acknowledge David’s amazing wife, Misol, who graciously honored David’s request to participate in this book.)

Nick Thorpe, a United Kingdom dad who adopted a child. Nick wrote the Tribute to David Drysdale, which we included in this book.

Pablo Elizaga, a New York dad who, after he announced to his wife he was gay, has a unique long distance and wonderful father-child relationship with his daughter who lives in Argentina.

Jason MacKenzie, a Canadian dad who lost his wife to suicide and, with the help of his second wife, conquered his alcohol and drug addiction.

David Mike, a Nebraska dad who had been incarcerated in a military prison for dishonorable desertion. After his release he turned his life around and became a productive citizen and wonderful dad. Austin and I included David to demonstrate that it is possible for a dad who made a mistake and/or committed a crime to turn his life around for the better and become a responsible and productive parent.

Darius Walker, a Wisconsin dad (of one child) who is serving a life sentence in a correctional facility. Austin and I included Darius to demonstrate that regardless of the crime a dad commits, concrete walls should not condemn or prevent him from building a relationship with his child(ren). Although incarcerated dads committed a crime and were sentenced by our legal system, Austin and I feel it is not our place to judge these dads while they serve their time in prison. They are still dads! Our attempt to invite and include incarcerated dads in this book wasn’t easy. Correctional facilities' strict policies made it difficult for inmates to participate in the book and for us to gain access to them. All but one of the inmates who contacted me gave up. The one inmate is Darius Walker. Darius has not only demonstrated an enormous amount of perseverance but also expressed remorse for his crime as well as his passion to continue being a father to his son. 

Shawn Fludd, a California dad who became a father at the age of 16 to a son who is now 20 years old. Shawn and his first wife divorced. He married again and he and his wife are parents to three children under age 5.

Wes Hall, a North Carolina dad who survived cancer but lost his right leg at the age of 15. After he retired from the YMCA in 2008, he and his wife made a decision for him to be the primary caregiver for their family.

Brian Knowler, a Canadian dad who works as a policeman and is a post dramatic stress disorder survivor. In March 2016 he debuted a book about his struggles with PTSD. The title of the book is "On the Other Side of Broken – One Cop’s Battle With the Demons of PTSD." 

Dylan Ward, a North Carolina gay dad who, with his partner and despite a difficult journey, adopted a 2-year-old boy.

After you acquaint yourself with this outstanding, diverse group of 115 dads, Austin and I believe you will come to the same conclusion we have about the true state of fatherhood: That the responsible, active, nurturing caring, loving, dedicated dads far outnumber the irresponsible, absent dads. But more importantly, we hope you'll see that fatherhood is alive in well all over the world!

The book is available for purchase in bookstores, at Amazon.com and other at retail outlets. The hard cover version is $39.95 and the paperback version is $27.95. If you’d like to contact the coauthors or preorder an autographed copy at a discount from one of the authors, please email Hogan Hilling at hogan@unitedweparent.com.


Hogan Hilling is a parent and nationally recognized and Oprah-approved author of 10 published parenting books in addition to the "Dads Behaving DADLY" book series. Hilling was the primary caregiver to three boys for 20 years. He has appeared on Oprah and ABC’s "The Story of Fathers and Son." He is also the founder of United We Parent and lives in Southern California.


Categories: Dads, Guest Bloggers, Parenting