18 June 2008

The Story Behind The Story Behind Hops For Pops

This is long-winded, but please stay with me...

If somehow you weren't aware already, in just a couple weeks the people behind Hoosier Beer Geek will also be among the people behind Hops For Pops. As we've put this together, we've learned that throwing a beer festival isn't as easy as we might have suspected.

Being that this is a first time event, we're sure that there's still some surprises in store. But we're going to do our best to put on a quality event, and we're hoping that people show up. Having said all that, we at Hoosier Beer Geek don't have nearly as much riding on this event as (HBG and Dads Inc. founder) Chris Maples does.

In an effort to gain a little empathy from the general public (and to sell tickets), I sent Chris an email:
If you could do a little storytelling about how the dads inc thing started at whatnot - whatever you're comfortable sharing - a lot less formal than the official statement on the website, I think that'd be nice to include. When we were attempting to distribute posters, most folks wanted to know what Dads Inc is first.

I'm gonna do my best appeal to the sensitivities sort of post and and anything you can add in your story will help. Say something about puppies, too. Girls are really into puppies.

Also if you can have some really old people be in love and then have one of them die and then the other one die like two days later, that gets people really involved emotionally.

Ok i gotta go back to writing my screenplay for On Golden Pond 2.

Chris' response:
Mike asked me to talk about the real and personal reasons behind founding Dads Inc. – and not the vanilla stuff that’s on our website. He also asked me to talk about babies, puppies, butterflies, and old people so that you feel all mushy inside and want to buy a ticket to Hops for Pops to support such a wonderful organization. I’ll try to do that, too.

It all started about 5 years or so ago. I had just gotten married to the wonderful women who I want to grow into old people with. We were talking about having babies and all that fun stuff that, and while I wanted babies, I was scared to death of the thought of becoming a father myself. Why, you ask? I mean, such a classy, confident guy as me shouldn’t have cute little butterflies in his stomach or be afraid of a little thing like fatherhood, right?

But yet I was, and for the same reason that so many other guys are – we didn’t have the best role models on how to be good dads because our dads (while we love them) weren’t the most loving or involved in our lives, and so we didn’t really know how to do it for our kids. Hell, I wasn’t even a good father to the two puppies I had adopted, and eventually gave them away to good homes with people that could take better care of them and be better fathers to them than I knew how to. I knew, however, that my friends and I wanted desperately to be better fathers than those that we had. We just needed the skills and support to get it done. And never wanted to appear inept at a chore as simple as child-rearing, I knew men would jump at the chance to get these skills without looking like a wussy.

I figured that there was surely an organization out there that would have some classes for me to take to get my daddy skills on. I looked far and wide. The only organization I could find (while a very good & worthwhile organization) was one that only catered to a more “traditional” non-profit client – young, uneducated, unemployed, poor, and irresponsible dads. While I was young, the other four didn’t really fit (ok, well, I could be irresponsible at times, but not like to the point of just cutting out of my family’s life). I couldn’t find a single class for a guy like me.

At the same time, I was becoming more aware of and tuned into the negative portrayal of men, and fathers specifically, in mass media. For example, other than Cliff Huxtable, name me one television father of our generation that is portrayed as something other than moronic and completely and utterly inept at parenting. If you can actually name me one, I will name you 15 others that aren’t.

And what about the Robitussin commercials where mom is sick and the whole house goes into chaos because dad doesn’t know how to cook, clean up after himself, dress his kids, or provide for them in any way other than doing his job outside of the house (you know, like what it means to be a grown up)? Approved by Dr. Mom, huh? When was the last time you saw a laundry or house cleaning detergent or grocery store commercial that didn’t have a woman starring in it? I don’t know about you all, but the last time I checked my house, I do a significant amount of laundry, almost all of the grocery shopping, and even a good bit of cleaning the house. Now with a son and another child on the way, I change his diapers and get him ready for day care every morning, and I know how to get him ready for bed every night, and how to calm him when he’s upset. Hell, my wife even makes a lot more money than I do (thank God for that!).

What I’m trying to say is that the traditional gender roles have been shot all to hell, but media hasn’t caught up with that. How is this line of thinking helping to provide young boys with any sense of what it means to be a good man in today’s society? So I also wanted to see an outlet that would set the record straight on modern gender roles and the abilities of fathers and men, and to provide an accurate and balanced picture of today’s man. But again, there was nothing out there.

One of my better traits, I must admit, is that when I see something I don’t like, instead of just bitching about it, I try to change it (note, I’m not saying I don’t bitch about it, too, though). It helped that I was already working in non-profits, so I was used to being poor and living with the pressure that relying on other people’s donations for your salary so wonderfully provides. But I still hadn’t found my calling. Does that make sense? I was passionate about many things, and very socially aware of the problems the less-fortunate face. But I hadn’t found the one thing that I wanted to dedicate the rest of the productive years of my life to. It finally dawned on me one day in late April of 2005 what I needed and wanted to do – start my own non-profit that would help any man, regardless of his income level or his zip code, to be a good dad. I wanted an organization that my friends and I could go to and be welcomed at. After all, the bad stuff about not having an active and involved father in one’s life is the same regardless if you’re rich or poor, black or white. There are drugs, pregnant teenagers, and high school dropouts in Carmel just like there is in Haughville. The environment is different, but the end results are the same – generations of broken lives. And that has to change now.

And that’s exactly what Dads Inc. does. We take fathers who want to provide more for their children than just a rough over their heads, and give them the skills, support, and opportunities they need to be active and positively engaged in the lives of their children. Last year, in our very first year of offering our services, 196 dads took advantage of the opportunities we presented to get better at parenting. That’s double the amount of dads that the experts we consulted with while planning said we could expect in our wildest dreams for our first year. And we’re on track this year to blow that number out of the water. Men want and need this service we provide, and they’re proving it by showing up in herds to things we offer.

Over the last three years, I think Dads Inc. has been able to raise awareness of and promote a good civic conversation on the importance of fathers and the state of fatherhood in our community. Through our Fatherhood Hall of Fame, we highlight and celebrate men who dedicate themselves to being the ideal father – or at least coming as close as possible. We want to raise these men and offer them as examples of what is right and good about dads to our boys and girls so that they have a high standard to strive to meet when becoming adults. This work that Dads Inc. does is not just about changing today, but also about preventing bad tomorrows. We see the work we do today as having a positive impact on generations of families. After all, boys get their example of fathering from their own fathers and girls get their example of what to look for in a man from their fathers. If we make sure they have the right example, then they will model the right example for their kids, who will model the right example for their kids, etc.

As an aside, through my work and study in the field of the fatherhood movement, I started to work much harder at understanding and changing my relationship with my own father. He lives in Kentucky, and so we only see each other a couple of times a year. He’s 65 now, and certainly isn’t getting any younger. I didn’t want to regret not getting to know and understand him better after he passed away when I had the chance to before that horrible day comes. So I decided that during the few times we do get to spend together, I was going to make a very serious effort to learn about his childhood (something he rarely, if ever, spoke to me about), what he was like before I was born, what he was afraid of as a father, what his regrets were, etc. What I’ve learned so far over the last couple of years has dramatically changed the way I view him as a father and our relationship – for the better.

Again highlighting the generational impact of fathering, I discovered that his father, who I only met a handful of times, had untreated and very serious psychological problems and ferociously beat his wife and children regularly. At one point, when my dad was still very young, his father (who was in one of his bouts with his problems) lined very one of his children up outside of their house and threatened to shoot them all with his shotgun. Thankfully, a neighbor came along and stopped it, but I can’t even imagine the scars something like that leaves behind on a little boy’s mind. His father was institutionalized when he was 14, and he left home at 16 to try to better himself, never returning home.

So after coming to understand the example of fathering my dad had, I began to think he actually did a pretty damn good job of being my dad. I’m not saying he was all of a sudden a perfect dad and I’m not making excuses for some of the shortcoming he did have as a father, but I came to see that he probably did the best he could with what he had. It helped me to see how much he did actually love me, even though he didn’t really put it into words so well. Now on every trip to Kentucky, I uncover and learn something new about my dad. We talk more frequently on the phone, and I think we’ve come to understand each other better. I see the affection he shows my son, and how much he enjoys doing it. I have to admit that the little boy in me gets jealous when I see that, not really ever getting a whole lot of it myself when I was that age, but really I’m so happy that he has learned how to show that affection and is getting the chance to now as a grandfather that he didn’t take advantage of as a father.

Now, go buy lots of tickets for Hops for Pops!!
If that doesn't work, we'll have a list of brewers shortly.


  1. I've gotta admit I expected more comments.

    Maybe if I can embed a midi sound file of "Wind Beneath My Wings" in the post somehow..

  2. I was very impressed by the addition of puppies to the story.

    I'm anxiously awaiting the beer list. Also do I get to pick which table I pour for?

  3. Well, I'm catching up on reading all my favorite blogs, and I really appreciated you sharing the back story. I hope to be coming out on Saturday to drink some beer for Dads Inc.!