It’s been 20 years since the formation of the National At Home Dad Network’s annual convention. To celebrate this milestone we will be counting down to our convention in Raleigh by featuring past and present attendees, who will share why this gathering of modern fathers is so important.

It’s not every year that we turn twenty. As the 20th Annual National At-Home Dad Network’s Convention rolls around we want to celebrate our special event.

Many dads have transitioned through their role as the primary caregiver for their children and many of them have found and attended our convention to find support and meaning to help them in their journey. For the next twenty weeks we will be highlighting 20 dads who have attended the convention. Join us as they share exactly why this gathering is so beneficial to them, their kids, and their family.

Week 13 – Austin Dowd, Cary, NC

11.       Who is in your house? Tell us about your spouse, kids etc.

My wife Mary and our 2 sons, 5 and 2.

2.       How long were you, or have been a stay at home dad?

I started staying home 3 months after my first was born, right when my wife’s maternity leave ended. I’ve been an at-home dad since, about 5 years.

3.       What city/ cities and year(s) did you attend the convention?

I attended the last 3 conventions, 2 in Denver (2013 & 2014) and the last one in DC (2012).

24.       What is your best memory from a convention that you attended?

There have been several, so its hard to really pin a particular favorite . One that has always stuck out for me was also my very first moments in DC. I traveled up there with my co-organizer James Kline and we were both fairly skeptical about the whole thing. We checked into the hotel and then walked to the Dad’s Night Out that was a few blocks away.

I used to have to attend a lot of networking events like this while I was working. The first time into these groups can be really intimidating, not just because there are a bunch of strangers around, but because you have to don the smile, shake as many hands as possible, make the same introduction 20 plus times and try to remember name after name all while feeling very uncomfortable and out of place.

With the convention crew, it wasn’t like that, in fact it was very much the opposite. Once everyone was there and checked in, it was like meeting family you haven’t seen in 20 years. It was amazing how quickly I felt comfortable with so many strangers. The brotherhood that gets created at these events is real and immediate.

5.       Why should someone attend the convention?

I go every year to meet other men in roles like mine. The seminars, the discussions, all of that is a great enough reason, but for me its about building a support system and getting a chance to “talk shop” with guys from all over the country.  I’ve always compared it to a guys trip for fishing, hunting, Vegas, etc. Its all meant to blow off steam and refresh. The convention is a way I can do that and come back a better more informed father.

Follow #RoadToRaleigh and #AHDCon on Twitter and Instagram and read about our featured dads every Friday until the convention as we count down to the 20th Annual NAHDN Convention