DADS is a heartfelt documentary that celebrates the joys and challenges of parenting in today’s world, and it lands on AppleTV+ just in time for Father’s Day.
Featuring six extraordinary fathers from across the globe, this film offers a firsthand glimpse into the trials and tribulations of modern-day parenting through revealing interviews, rare home-movie footage, viral videos, and hilarious and thoughtful testimonials from some of Hollywood’s funniest celebrities, including Will Smith and Keenan Thompson as well as some real-life heroes like Robert Selby and Glen Henry.
The documentary marks the directorial debut of Bryce Dallas Howard and features celebs like Judd Apatow, Jimmy Fallon, Neil Patrick Harris, Ron Howard, Ken Jeong, Jimmy Kimmel, Hasan Minaj, Conan O’Brien, Patton Oswalt, and more.
Robert Selby captured hearts across the country in 2013 when a photo of him and his son went viral. Selby’s son was born with a heart condition that required surgery and left a scar, and his father decided to share in his son’s experience by giving himself a fake scar to match.
“I just wanted to help other parents going through the same thing we were going through, so I took the picture and it went viral, but that was never my intent,” he explains.
The filmmakers stumbled upon Selby’s story and asked him to participate in the documentary.
“I never knew who else would be featured in the project and then when I found out, I couldn’t pick my mouth up off the ground. You want me to be in a movie with them? I couldn’t understand it,” he says. “I’m just a regular dad. I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
Now six years old, Selby’s son is thriving, but the current social climate presents a whole new set of hurdles when it comes to parenting him.
“I’ve never been more terrified and scared. Raising a child period is tough and usually, you hope you will live long enough to see who they will become. Far too many of us are burying our kids instead of them burying us,” he says.
“I haven’t had the [police] talk with my son yet. I always felt like his only job right now is to be a kid and be innocent. That’s what I want for him. Now, I’m contemplating having this talk with a 6-year-old,” he says. “I’m his protector. All we want to do is protect him from the outside world who may view him differently because of the color of his skin.”
Another one of the film’s subjects, Glen Henry, has dedicated his life to fatherhood by being a stay-at-home dad to his four kids and launching a subscription-based parenting website for fathers, Beleaf In Fatherhood.
He and his wife decided to forego traditional schooling long before COVID-19 sent everyone home.
“We understood that there are a lot of things taught in school that really don’t prepare you for life. My wife was a math teacher for seven years and we didn’t want our children learning certain things about history,” he explains. “I feel like there was this rise in school shootings and Black kids getting treated wrong by teachers. I’d rather raise my children to know who they are first. You want to be the first person to talk to your kids about race. You want to be that initial point of contact and protection.”
When it comes to advice, Henry has a ton, but there’s one thing that rings true time and time again.
“If I could pick one thing I would say, look for the lessons in fatherhood. There’s this idea you have that when you become a dad you’re going to teach your kids how to do so many things but if you pay attention, they’re going to teach you so much about the basics of relationships. They’ll show you how important it is to look into someone’s eyes or not relinquish a hug until they are ready.”
Another important thing for Black fathers to keep in mind is making sure their kids have room to ask questions and express themselves.
“We have to realize how important it is to allow them to have a voice. My 5-year-old walked up and told me that I work too much. By my son being able to tell me that, I felt I was giving him permission to hold me accountable,” he explains.
“There’s a thing about teaching your kids the power of their voice. When they’re babies, we’re always listening. As soon as they make a noise or cry, we’re there trying to troubleshoot. When they get older and develop their own opinions, we tell them to stay in their place and mind their business. Then when they turn I9 or 20, we want them to speak up for themselves and stand up against injustice but we never taught them how to do that. We need to teach them the power of their voice, but first, we need to be ready to listen.”