Dad of three Marcello Pilia was constantly seeing things that focused on moms.
Sure, moms are important, but what about dads?, he wondered.
After Frederick Birth Center opened, Pilia, of Frederick, thought that there needed to be a laid-back, non-agenda group where area dads can get together and swap advice and stories.
“It’s not like kids [come] with an instruction booklet, and we don’t have a support group where we can just talk about babies, ask questions and share situations,” he said. “And maybe we can do it over a beer?”
With Frederick being a brewery Mecca, and the need to have a place where dads can learn from each other, Beards & Babies was born, with its home base at the Frederick Birth Center.
The first group met in December 2018, and now they meet the second Wednesday of each month. Pilia said about 30 dads showed up to the first gathering. Now, with the dads being busy, he said attendance has dwindled since the first meeting, with a basic core of about five dads with others coming as often as they can.
“The things we talk about is all over the place. It’s so random,” Pilia said.
Sure they talk about kids, but they also talk about work and show off their personal projects, like the elaborate treehouses and swings they build for their children. And some of the dads have found out that they share common interests, so now some gather and ride motorcycles.
Pilia said the dads range in age from in their 20s to their 50s, with their kids ranging in age from infants to teens. He said they’ve even had dads with special needs children come to the group. Pilia’s own three kids’ ages range from 4 to 9.
Originally, Pilia said, the thought was to meet just a few months and see how it went.
“Turned out the wives were like, ‘You should really go to these things,” he said.
Pilia jokingly said that because it wasn’t just the guys going out for beers, but the fact that they were talking about babies, that got the wives’ backings.
Joking aside, there are some learning moments from fellow fathers. Pilia said the best advice he’s received is that “it will get better.”
He said the dads are encouraged to leave the little ones at home for the meetings. Although they plan to have a little get together with the kids, maybe next summer.
Dad advice can be the best advice, especially if it’s coming from another dad, Pilia said, and they really do learn from each other.
“You learn that you’re not crazy and that it’s normal,” he said. “You realize that no child is the same. You realize that you’re not alone in this.”
Follow Crystal Schelle on Twitter: @crystalschelle.