James Kline hasn't been active in stay-at-home dad circles for very long. After all, it's only been 3 1/2 years since he left work to stay home when his oldest child was born.
But he didn't waste much time once he got started. He's been co-organizer of Triangle Stay At Home Dads for more than two years. The group now has 250 members and meets daily for outings. And he's gotten involved in the National At-Home Dad Network. He's co-chair of a committee that will bring the network's convention to Raleigh in 2015 and 2016.
Kline went to his first national convention in 2011 in Washington, D.C. That's where Kline first heard of plans for a new book put together by authors Hogan Hilling, an at-home dad since 1992, and Al Watts, an 11-year stay-at-home dad to four kids.
The goal is to tell a story of a different kind of dad than the one who is portrayed coming home from his 9-to-5 job and has little to do with the work around the house and parenthood. The aim is to represent who Hilling and Watts call the modern dad, the guy who is a hands-on parent.
"For the past 26 years, the image of the modern dad I observed in my community and social dad network is far different than the media and Hollywood continue to portray in newspapers, magazines, television and movies," Hilling writes.
"The breed of dads I have met are caring, nurturing, sensitive, compassionate men who chose to embrace a different approach to parenting then their dads, while still keeping their masculinity in tact," he continues. "I don’t mean any disrespect to the past generation of dads but today’s modern dads have shown a tremendous amount of courage in redefining the image of fatherhood in a positive way."
The result is "Dads Behaving Dadly: 67 Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood," which is out this month. And one of Kline's essays, about understanding his son's night terrors, is among the 67 stories. The experience taught him how important it is to really pay attention to your child's mannerisms and take notice when something is off.
Kline, now the father of two, said about 50 fathers share their own stories about fatherhood in the book. They come from all walks of life - at-home dads, working dads, divorced dads and others - from across the United States, Canada and Australia. They include the widow of an at-home dad; Tray Chaney, an actor on HBO's hit series, "The Wire", and a writer, producer and rapper; a one-time college football coach; and a Civil War reenactor, among others.
"We kind of reveal some of our secrets and we talk about what scares us and how we cry ... and there's a lot of humor in it," said Kline, who writes the Apex Daddy blog.
"... Everybody is going to find a story here that they can relate to," he said. "At the end, there are lessons to be learned."
Kline said he's proud to be considered a modern dad.
"The modern dads have technology, freedom and wives to support them," he said. "I am completely OK with that."
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