I recently had the pleasure to cross paths with Emily Hibard of Hibard Group in Los Angeles. In addition to founding in her words, a "boutique solutions agency dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, risk-takers, dreamers and doers", Emily is also the writer and producer of a new documentary that explores and exalts the joys and challenges of fatherhood.
She was moved to do this feature to highlight incredible men who have stepped up and are providing an excellent role model both for their families and also their communities.
Entitled Honor Project, Emily takes us on a journey to meet several fathers who open their hearts and invite us into their families for a small glimpse of what being a dad means to them. Emily chose the title because she states, "Respect is earned, but honor is given. I wanted to honor each of the dads in this documentary for showing up, leaning in and doing the hard work of parenting."
The beauty of this story is the variety of men who participated. There were all ages, different cultures, ethnicity and belief systems. For all their diversity, the one common thread was their love and dedication for their children. It was a declaration that there is no one size fits all when it comes to a father's love and impact.
The film starts with Emily describing the life long dream of her own dad to kayak in the Arctic Ocean. Filtered throughout the hour long documentary is actual footage of his 3500 mile journey to fulfill that dream.
The first noticeable aspect of the film is the difference a generation can make. Most of the men spoke of how their own fathers were either absent or outwardly non-affectionate.
The few who grew up without fathers in their lives were understandably wary of diving into these waters for fear of no point of reference. The advantage they had was the freedom to develop their own ideas and plans to carve a different path and make sure their children did not experience that void.
There were several men who had a father in the home, but grew up in an era where many did not openly express love. The nurturing was left to mothers while fathers were mostly sideline silent support systems.
Even in those homes, the men recognized the positive contribution of their dads. One referenced the 'quiet hero'. They came to understand the sacrifice and work that a provider and leader brings to the home. What they also discovered, however, was the drive within themselves to push past the macho stereotype of love and learn to freely shower their children with affection.
After the birth of his first child, one of the fathers spoke of being aware that for the first time in his life he was responsible for another person. He relayed how humbling and yet life-changing it was. Several dads spoke of the importance of having the approval of a father and what impact that carries with the child for the rest of their lives.
One young father talked about his immediate realization that the world needed to be better and his desire to try and fix it for his child. Obviously, that isn't really possible but it does show the perspective shift that occurs when a parent sees through a different lens.
Another man was a coach and sought to intermingle his coaching insight into his parenting. His go-to phrase was to 'lead from the front'. To him that meant going first and providing a path and example to follow.
He told the story of having lost a game that his son played in and on the ride home going over the fine points of how to improve his performance. The man said his son looked at him and said, "Could you just please be my dad?" He said that forever touched him and changed the way he thought about their relationship and he always remembered he was the father first; coach second.
The documentary also mentions City Dads Group which is an organization focused on helping dads navigate in today's ever changing world. Many of the men highlighted in this movie were members of the LA branch. There are chapters all over the US. Check out their website for more information.
Each of these men had stories. And each one had a remarkable and obvious love for their children and their families. Their individual journeys might have started differently and not everyone's story looked the same, but they all had a central theme, or thread if you will, woven throughout. Love. Commitment. Devotion.
The documentary ends with Emily's father finally reaching the Arctic Ocean and taking that kayak out for a spin. The smile on his face and look of satisfaction was priceless. Emily credits her dad for always being there for her and providing unconditional love and encouragement.
This film does an excellent job of showcasing the struggles and triumphs of these men who took on the greatest challenge of their life; being a dad. I highly recommend watching it.
I have provided a link where you can find more information on how to buy the movie or the soundtrack.
I want to thank Emily Hibard for allowing me to opportunity step into the lives of these amazing men and fathers. They are the HOPE for the next generation coming behind. I feel much better now about our/their chances.
Hope With Abandon