On this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast, host David Hirsch talks with Chris LaFriniere. Chris is the founder of the Bunch of Dads Facebook group that currently has over 120,000 members. Chris also has a son Zachary who is autistic. We’ll hear Chris’ story on this Dad to Dad Podcast.
A Bunch Of Dads Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/abunchofdads
Contact Chris LaFriniere at” CLafriniere@gmail.com
Dad to Dad 117 Chris LaFriniare: Co-Creator of A Bunch Of Dads Facebook Group & Father of Zachary Who Has Autism
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is thrilled to be sponsored by Rubin Law. A multigenerational law firm dedicated, exclusively to serving families, raising children with special needs. It’s not one thing they do. It’s the only thing they do. To find out more go to RubinLaw.com.com R U B I N law.com or call (847) 279-7999 and mention the Special Fathers Network for a free consultation.
Chris LaFriniare: Slow down, slow down yourself, slow down everything. Your is going to move at exactly the speed that they want to move at, but slow yourself down. Your expectations are not their reality. Let go of what you expect and just kind of get a grip on what do you believe they would like to be not what you would like them to be, but what they would like to be and understand that their happiness is everything. And if they’re happy, I guarantee you’ll be happy.
Tom Couch: That’s Chris LaFriniare David Hirsch’s guest on this Special Fathers Network, Dad to Dad podcast. Chris is the founder of the bunch of dads Facebook group that currently has over 120,000 members. Chris also has a son, Zachary who’s autistic. We’ll hear Chris’s story and a few excerpts from his daddy duty three 65 podcast on this Dad to Dad podcast.
Here’s our hosts, David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad to Dad podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a Dad to Dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process.
New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads, to find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com, groups and search Dad to Dad.
Tom Couch: And now let’s hear this great conversation between Chris LaFriniare and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Chris law, premier of Mount Clemens, Michigan, who is a father of two works in quality control at Dirkson screw products, a stay at home dad and co-creator of A Bunch of Dads, Facebook community with more than 120,000 members.
Chris, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Chris LaFriniare: Well, thank you very much for having me, David. I appreciate it.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Carrie had been married for 15 years now. The proud parents of two boys, Christopher or CJ. Who’s 10 and Zachary nine, who has autism and is nonverbal.
Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Chris LaFriniare: No, I’m pretty much born and raised in Mount Clemens, Michigan. I live literally two miles from where I was born, the hospital I was born in. I could probably walk to within 10 minutes, but, uh, I grew up about seven miles from here in Shelley township, little neighborhood, little shack, neighborhood of, uh, mobile homes.
And it was back in the eighties when you’re in a mobile home neighborhood, that was more of a family situation. So you’d have. A ton of people all around the same age. And they were all almost in their twenties, the parents and all the kids were five or six around. So we grew up in a situation where like, everybody felt like cousins.
So for us, we grew up knowing a whole bunch of people who felt like cousins to us. And then we go out and even 10 miles later it’s was like, Oh, you know, so and so. It’s still a small town, even though it was a city. So it’s kind of how we are, even though, as Michigan. And it seems like it’s around Detroit and you’re like, Oh, it’s a big city.
David Hirsch: So did you have any siblings growing up?
Chris LaFriniare: I did. Uh, I have, uh, a couple of siblings, you know, it’s a tricky situation. My, uh, my closest brother to me, yeah. Is 30 years old. His name’s Cameron. He lives actually two miles from me. But, uh, I mean, I have siblings in Indiana AIJ and Scott, I have another sibling, a sister around here.
Uh, Kayla, I have a couple of siblings, his half siblings, this and that. So yeah, I have family, which is nice. I got that treat. Although sometimes it was a nightmare, but you know, that’s how it goes with family. Right?
David Hirsch: Well, one of the things we have in common is that, uh, we grew up in single mom, head of household families.
And I’m wondering what’s the backstory about your own dad?
Chris LaFriniare: All right. Well, yeah. Um, my biological father, um, left when I was two, so I didn’t have my biological father around when I was a child. What happened was he had left and, uh, for awhile it was just my, my mother and I, and then around four years old, the guy who I call father, I called dad, came into life.
And he started dating my mom and for some reason or other, he fell in love with us and he decided to marry my mother and I just married my mother, but, uh, to adopt me, which is the greatest thing in the world, especially when you’re feeling like you’ve been unloved. Um, so that was awesome. Um, and even to this day, he’s still around.
I mean, I’ll get to that too, but yeah, he came in there and I was single child, single mom. And he decided he wanted us. And I don’t know what it was. I mean, he, he stuck around and then at around age 11, my mom decided that wasn’t good enough for her. And she decided to split. And that’s a whole other story.
If you want to keep going down with that or that’s up to you, but, uh, you know, to this day, he’s still my dad. And honestly, I haven’t been able to see him in a while because he does. Live quite just across the border. See, I live around Detroit and he lives around Windsor, Canada. And right now these borders are closed.
I haven’t been able to see him since a day in March. In fact, it was a day. I remember it. Exactly. One of the last thing you’re talking about was I told him, I said, you’ve going to be careful. Like these borders are gonna close and he’s like, Oh, nonsense, this isn’t, this will never happen. As I can just be careful, man.
Like maybe in the next couple of days we see each other more. It’s like, ah, let me find, I’ll see you next Sunday. That was like four months ago. I haven’t seen him since and it’s probably going to be next year until I see him now as the only little thing it was like, damn, you know, I wish I would have, like, I wish we would have both like listen a little more because it does suck to not see your dad.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing. Everybody’s story is a little bit different and it’s just great that he stepped into your life and your mom’s life for that period of time while they were married and for your lifetime now. And I’m wondering, how would you describe or characterize your relationship with.
With your dad or your stepdad is my thing.
Chris LaFriniare: Okay. Oh, my dad is by, I mean, he’s not biological, but these adapted, I have his last name, so I wouldn’t call him a stepfather. Um, I’d say great, honestly. Oh, I can’t wait for him to come me back because we’ve got some for willing to do. We got, we spend every Sunday together, normally as a family and my brother.
My wife and I, and his fiance. We all come together. And my stepmom, we all come together every Sunday, every week to have dinner without fail. So without like four months without this is killing us because we’re used to having this normalcy and we can’t have any kind of it at all. Even if we could, even if, you know, we still can’t.
So, yeah, I mean, I, with him is great with my biological father gets a little bit tougher. Um, he lives in Indiana, like I said, and it’s a little harder to go see him. And it’s a little more if he, because we had a big disconnect for about 24 to 26 years, so.
David Hirsch: Okay. Well, thank you for being authentic about that.
So let’s talk about your. Your dad, the one who you share a name with what’s his name by the way?
Chris LaFriniare: Oh, Dave David LaFriniare. David Raymond LaFriniare is the man. He’s the dude who picked up the boy who should not have been picked up East sucker.
David Hirsch: Now we’re not. When you think about Dave off for near what lesson did you take away?
What are the attributes that you want to be more like your dad?
Chris LaFriniare: Uh, your family above all. Uh, your kid above, uh, honestly, uh, you chose to have children. You chose this life. They didn’t choose you. You chose them. So since you chose them, you had better put your life towards them. And if not, then you’d better figure out a way to put your life towards them because that’s your job above all.
And that’s one thing he’s always done for me is always made sure that even if I wasn’t happy, I was alive. And, you know, sometimes what that does is you don’t need to be happy, but sometimes you need to be alive.
David Hirsch: Okay. Well, thanks for sharing. I’m wondering if there was any other men who served as father figures while you were growing up, either grandfathers or other men for that matter?
Chris LaFriniare: Sure. No, absolutely. I mean, uh, I had a stepfather who, uh, served sort of as a father figure a, you know, some good, some bad, his name is, uh, James Taylor. Um, Lee’s a good, uh, dude in some rights, he’s also got a lot of work to do with other rights. Uh, but he’s also one of those men that my mother chose, uh, chew up and spit out because that’s, uh, how she went and she went through a guy she’d figure out how to have a child, how to do this, spit them out and go through a divorce.
Pick up another one, do the same, do the same. And she did that three times.
I learned how to actually, it’s kind of awesome that I learn how to be married through and out them through watching them fail, like the miserable fails. You learn how to do stuff like, Oh, I don’t want to be this. Like, I’m not going to do that.
Like, you can’t run someone through the gamut like that. You can’t run your kids to the gamut. So that’s kind of stuff like that I learned, but yeah, honestly, Honestly the best person and the only person who deserves real mention is, is my dad, Dave, honestly. And then, uh, you know, my other dad, Chris is fighting some cancers right now.
So he’s got some tough roads ahead of him, but, you know, I mean, when it comes to the man it’s Dave.
David Hirsch: Okay, well, thanks for sharing and the way I articulate it, because, uh, we have, you know, some, um, similar experiences is that you want to emulate the good role models and be more like them. And you want to live vicariously through the bad role models.
Right? You don’t want to repeat the same mistakes and that’s sort of what I heard you saying.
Chris LaFriniare: Exactly.
David Hirsch: So let’s just briefly on what your career has been. You mentioned you grew up there. I remember you telling me you went to McComb community college and, uh, Where has your career taken you?
Chris LaFriniare: Um, It’s been through, it’s been a path college that’s when a nine 11 yeah.
Happened. Um, I was actually in, in class when that happened, that was an extreme, but in there, I was honestly guy at a place called Merissa out of parts. I’m a little local auto parts chain. And I stayed there for like five or six years. And then I went to a dealership and where a parts guy for another couple of years.
And then I left to honestly become. I don’t know the parts guy for another year or six months. And then I left become a stay at home father, and that has been my outlet. So we make career for the last 10 or 11. And I would honestly say that’s been, my honest career has been raising children, both of my boys.
I mean, have been everything to me and it it’s taken a long time to figure out what it’s meant to do. What is meant to be a stay at home dad. And you know what right now is honestly, the times we’ve been gearing up for. So I’m kind of thankful that I’ve had this experience, the training for the last six months, because man, without that, that would’ve been an interesting six months.
David Hirsch: I can only imagine. And the community of stay at home dads seems to be growing and growing. Um, Nope was hundreds of thousands. And now I understand that there’s literally millions of dads around the country that are the primary caregivers like yourself to your children. And, uh, you know, it’s, uh, it should be more the norm as opposed to the exception.
So I really admire the commitment you make to family. So let’s talk about special needs first on a personal basis, and then beyond, so before Zachary’s diagnosis, did you or Carrie have any experience with the special needs community?
Chris LaFriniare: Uh, not at all. As a matter of fact, um, well, very little, I would say, uh, we knew of a special needs kids or down the street, or had friends of friends who are special needs, but, uh, one-on-one experience.
Probably not at all. Honestly, it wasn’t,
David Hirsch: I’m sort of curious to know how did the diagnosis come about and what age was he?
Chris LaFriniare: Diagnosis is ages around. It was two when he was diagnosed. Um, we noticed a progression and then regression was the big thing. He went from eating everything in. A lot of words and a lot of curiosity to just automatically drop into a hole all the way back.
And it was, it was a pretty hard drawback. Like he wouldn’t eat anything. He wouldn’t say anything. You know, a lot of his expressions left Yemen. We were kind of curious of what was going on. So with a couple of things that were going on with, so our other son who had a fever, we’re like, well, let’s just get our kids checked out to make sure that everything’s working out right.
For both of them. And, uh, you know, uh, CJ is absolutely neuro-typical, uh, as you’d say, is a child just like myself or my wife or uni, uh, Zachary is, uh, he does have autism and he is not nonverbal. You know, it’s just, I guess it’s a different way of working, I guess, the way it went on, it’s just, we just figured we had to get them to a neurologist and we did that.
We just called the doctor, but to a neurologist and. Pretty much, it was almost an ultimate automatic diagnosis. They kind of knew right away that it was autistic, which was a relief to me personally.
David Hirsch: So I guess, instead of wondering and waiting what it is, you got your diagnosis now, you know what it is. Do you remember what was going on in your mind back seven years ago when he was diagnosed where there’s a lot of concern or fear or anxiety or not a hundred percent?
Chris LaFriniare: First thing I thought of was okay. Now I know where we’re going. Let’s take a roadmap. The second thing I thought, okay. I know my wife has just to be freaking out. This is not, it’s gotta be a kick into that. Like it’s normally a kick in the head. I had prepared myself for it. I figured autism, autism and autism.
Like I prepare myself for a something. Um, if it’s something else then, okay. I can prepare myself again quickly. But for me it was, I figured this. I didn’t figure it. Even if she figured this, she would feel like, and unfortunately, sometimes you do. So we just went to the idea of let’s figure out what the family plan is.
Where do we all go from here? Everything’s different now. We’re not going necessarily to Harvard. We’re not necessarily going to yell. So let’s figure out what we’re doing first, rather than trying to figure out everything at once. Like they don’t need the big bubble. Let’s figure out the small bubble let’s go on from right here to the next step.
And then, then you go to the next step and then if you get enough staff to go to the next step, it’s almost like that a movie, the Martian, if you complete enough steps and maybe you get the chance to come home.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a great attitude to have and not everybody comes to the realization or acceptance of that.
So quickly, like you just described. So that is certainly one of your strengths. So I’m wondering if there was some meaningful advice that you and Carrie got early on that helped you navigate this situation?
Chris LaFriniare: No, honestly, no. There was really nothing at the beginning. Um, seven years ago, as much as you’d think there was a whole lot of, uh, stuff for, uh, autism.
There wasn’t the most meaningful advice I guess I would could say is get an advocate. And that was based through the state. They are advocate has been useful to us. So I guess I can’t say no, no is a really wrong answer, but, and, but once you get an advocate, Oh my gosh, they’re the godsend. They’re the people who will throw your kids.
And the every bit of therapy that is available to them, make sure they’re in the right school with the right teachers around the right person now with the right parapros and everything. If you don’t have an advocate, get one. And if you don’t know what one is, find out, trust me, you will love them. Other than that, that was pretty much the only advice that we could have gotten through the advocate we got through everything.
We just had to figure stuff out for ourselves seven years ago, even in social media, there wasn’t all this, uh, support there. Wasn’t a bunch of dads there wasn’t rad there wasn’t, you know, raising autism for dads or a bunch of dads special needs. There was none of this. You were lucky to find you were lucky to find any kind of space to ask any kind of question.
And if you were it wasn’t. By dads for dads or around as it was nothing to do with dads. There’s a whole bunch of people, mocking people who didn’t know the answers automatically. So really back in the day, it was kind of. Find your own answers.
David Hirsch: Not to focus on the negative, but what are some of the bigger challenges that you and Carrie have experienced raising two boys? One with autism.
Chris LaFriniare: Is it’s hard. Are there Irish twins, as you would consider other 13 months apart? And we had them close together as much as close together as possible because he obviously wanted them to play together, grow up together, be close. Like that’s the whole point. You know, my brother and I are nine years apart and it took us to, like, I was.
26 and he was 17 until like we could start to kind of get close because I started, I started to finally get over being the big brother anyways, that’s kind of the thing we wanted to stop. So the hard part is when they’re so different, um, I’ll tell you what though. There’s they might be so different, but.
They have two separate bedrooms. Okay. We have a bedroom for Zachary and we have a bedroom for ZJ. They don’t sleep in separate bedrooms and they haven’t slept in separate bedrooms in seven years. And that’s voluntarily, we’ve got a brand new mattress and one bedroom right now that has been slept in maybe three times by me only because I was sick and I didn’t want to get the family sick.
Literally, other than that, they don’t sleep. Not apart like. It might. My oldest son is a super sibling. He, he, his brother’s keeper. Um, they’re probably outside right now, as I’m talking to you, uh, swimming in a kiddie pool and it’s no more than, you know, two foot deep and it’s just because they can, so that kind of stuff is really cool.
But the, the problem is sometimes when we go to a party, It’s gotta be one of us on a Zachary duty. And then yeah, the one gets to enjoy themselves really. Uh, because Eckery, he’s in constant need of attention. Um, if you need something, it’s not going to be a talk. And even if he uses his words, which would be through his, uh, his tablet, he has a quote pro, which is a V Micah.
PEX board, but through an iPad that he uses, and even if he uses that it’s not loud enough to get anybody’s attention. So he’ll start yelling if he needs something or screaming, and it’s in a high pitch scream, or if there’s water and he’s got a tablet, you can’t let them around it because. Hills in a tablet to the water.
I literally have six tablets by the way, downstairs. If anybody wants to add tablets, iPads at the water, that’ll never be, never be lifted again.
David Hirsch: Make good paperweights. Yeah.
Chris LaFriniare: Exactly. That kind of stuff is rough. It’s hard to, yeah. You get time alone. That kind of stuff is rough. Um, but other than that, our families really understanding our family is really magical when it comes to this and they’ve wrapped themselves around autism.
Like I never thought I would be the type of parent that would easily adapt to a special needs situation. I was always straight up looking forward to the easiest path there was, which would be. You know, neuro-typical kids top of their class, very easy to raise blah, blah, blah. But you know what? That’s not what you’re meant for sometimes.
And I’m honestly glad it didn’t happen that way because I don’t think I would be half the person I am today without. Both of my kids, the way they are exactly who they are, why they are, how they are.
David Hirsch: I’m very well said. Thank you for sharing. And I, one of the traits that I admire about you and I’ll probably say it over and over is just your authenticity, right?
You’re just very candid. Tell it like it is. No pretense and I wish more people were like that.
Chris LaFriniare: Oh, we’ll get there. Well, I’ll get there. That’s what, so what we’re all doing too. That’s what you’re doing. That’s what I’m doing. That’s where we’re all doing what we’re doing. We’ll get a more candid.
David Hirsch: Are there any other organizations that you.
Your family or Zachary in particular benefited from, uh, during the past nine years?
Chris LaFriniare: The national dad at home dad network has helped me out. Those guys have been pretty neat. Um, life of dad is honestly, I was trying to think of, they helped us out because they’re actually the guys who helped us start a bunch of dads.
David Hirsch: Well, let’s use that as a segue then to talk about a bunch of dads. I understand that it’s you, Matt and Travis that are the, um, three. I was going to say Three Stooges, but that’s not giving you the credit that you do. And, uh, it’s just remarkable what you’ve been able to do. Uh, there’s a main Facebook page.
There’s a tenor, more other subgroup pages and there’s over 120,000 dads.
Chris LaFriniare: I would like to say. Tim is the fourth student. He’s the one who’s not mentioned, but Tim is our fourth guy. And honestly, he’s not afraid this guy he’s literally like he rounds off the team very well. He’s a guy who keeps us in check.
So Tim, I’m sorry. I didn’t mention it before it, my bad, but honestly, 123,000 and change. We’re almost done 124,000. We hopefully will get up there. Grab that tonight. Yeah. Four years in, we had 10,000, within three months, we had 25,000 within four months, five months. And then it was, you know, a year it was 50,000 and then two years, a hundred thousand.
And now it just kind of rounded up. Yeah. It’s a fun group though. I’ll tell you what, it’s 180 to 190,000 throughout all the groups.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it’s a phenomenon. It’s remarkable. And I just love the energy that you guys have been able to capture and, uh, If you had to say, this was a pivot point, right? This is something that really contributed to our success or the growth of what you’re doing.
What is it that you can look back on now with almost four years of experience and say, Oh, it’s pretty obvious with the benefit of hindsight that if this didn’t happen, or if that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Chris LaFriniare: Our dad men team, a hundred percent. Our team of admin, we call ourselves dad admin because the dad joke is may reign Supreme.
But yeah, I honestly it’s. It’s who we choose to run our groups a hundred percent. Travis, uh, Matt myself are all original. Yeah. Admin. We have geo who is original. We have a ton of guys. We have. Oh, so many guys like, I, I don’t want to go through Oh, the guys, because it was just sitting here through it, but we have guys who have been here for years.
We have guys who have been here three years, two years, one year. Not only that we do somehow have a good job of recruiting military folk. And if you’re going to recruit military as your dad meant everything’s going to be regimented perfectly. And Travis has military and we have met not met. Ketchup by Matt King, who was military?
Uh, we have a bunch of guys who are military, uh, Ben keys, military, you know, we have dead men everywhere. Uh, we, yeah, Steve McMillan, military. These are guys who were also, some of them are OGs, but most of them all the way to the top. And it’s because you’re just good people and you care. And we got people from Australia who care.
We got people from. England who care. We got people from Costa Rica who care and you keep them around the world. You don’t keep them. Decentrally American too. So I guess, yeah, I’ve gotten, we’ll keep on going with this. I know, but it’s, it’s, it’s it’s everything.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I love the energy and I love the emphasis on the dads.
And you use the term dad, man. One of the phrases that we have captured with the 21stcenturydads.org is dad, the kits, people, not just men, but men and women who advocate for kids and dads. Right? Because. Uh, that’s, what’s really needed. There’s way too many kids growing up in father absent homes. And if there’s anything, we can each do a role that we can each play.
Let’s step up and do that. So, um, there’s a long list of different, um, groups within the arc of a bunch of dads, um, cars, music, home improvement, cooking geeks, and computers, dah, dah, dah. But the ones that really resonated with me are the ones that relate to special needs. Uh, the special needs bunch of dads, and then they autism bunch of dads.
So given the fact that this is about the Special Fathers Network, I’m wondering if you can shed a little light on what’s going on with those two groups? Yeah.
Chris LaFriniare: I’m raising autism for dads. I rad was created by myself and, uh, Diego Rojas and Ryan McCamish because, uh, we all have autistic children and we wanted a little bit of a side.
Pocket for us within the group to speak about these issues. And it was something that we created the early days of a bunch of dads. And then later on, Tim came in, she was like, you know what? We have a lot more going on. And then just autism, there are a whole lot more special needs out there. Honestly, it’s a brilliant idea.
And it was a brilliant move because there are so many. Fathers out there who, who feel like even their one diagnosis. I mean, you might have one in seven kids in the country diagnosed with a certain illness and you don’t feel like you have anywhere to go. And what if you don’t have a certain, just as a generic, not generic, but a whole, a whole group of special needs.
What we get to do is figure out that a lot of times, too, even though we’re dealing with a lot of different stuff, you know, my, my child’s having a meltdown because of this. And you’re having mental health down because of your child is doing this. And we’re honestly, it’s not that far apart. So it’s really nice to come together and do that and have those little moments of like, Hey, I had this day and I was honestly not that proud.
Honestly, I lost my ish so to speak and you know, dad’s like, you know what been there did that actually literally this morning before, and I was going to post it, but I didn’t want to feel like the world’s worst dad. So thank you for posting that. And that’s exactly what it’s about. Sometimes it’s just like, you know what?
Yes. You lost it. I lost it. We’re not awful as our kid alive. Yes. Okay. We’re good.
David Hirsch: That’s your litmus test? Is he alive? I love it. So there’s two separate groups. One is raising autism or dad isn’t for dads and the other is a bunch of dads. Special needs.
Chris LaFriniare: Correct.
David Hirsch: And about how many dads do you have in each of those two groups?
Chris LaFriniare: I believe about 700 or 800 and raising autism for dads. And I believe a few thousand. I’m actually, I’m deliberate now because now you’re testing me on this one.
Oh, it’s pretty big. I should’ve known this actually.
David Hirsch: Nope. Not, not the most important thing. I was just sort of curious.
Chris LaFriniare: Ooh. It’s only about a thousand and special needs.
David Hirsch: Okay.
Chris LaFriniare: 866, actually. So yeah, they’re about the same. They’re about even.
David Hirsch: That’s awesome. One of the other things I remember learning about is a podcast. Originally. It was known as the daddy duty. Podcast and it’s taken a little bit different path. So what’s been your experience and what’s your vision for the podcast?
Chris LaFriniare: I’ll tell you why. Oh, it’s a lot of fun. I’ll tell you that. It’s one of the most fun things I get to do. And it’s one of the reasons we continue to do is because it’s so much fun. It started out with Matt Katyal and myself with daddy duty. We had about nine months of a lot of good shows with that. Uh, we do have a new rendition of the new rendition is ABOD live.
Welcome to another edition of ABOD live. I am your host, Chris LaFriniare. Yeah, with me as always is my cohost, uh, author, big skid, not, um, writer podcaster. Dad, opinionated ma myself and Josh Davis, another dad. And he will enter. Honestly, what we’re trying to do is that’s my duty wide view. I known him for a little over a year.
Now it’s the public view of a bunch of dads. It’s a public view of what goes on in the head of a father, whether it be. Just the special needs dad, a dad, you know, who’s got five kids or two kids or three kids, you know, whether the dad drives a minivan or a Jeep, you know, whether he’s in Australia or Texas or Michigan or Virginia, it’s just one of those shows that, you know what I, as on Saturday nights, when you’re like kids are in bed, it’s time for me to relax.
Maybe have a juice, maybe sit around the fire and put on a podcast or a show or board we’re talking.
David Hirsch: I love that. We’ll be sure to include that in the show notes as well. And did I remember from a prior conversation, Chris, that there’s an ambition to put a, not for profit place as well.
Chris LaFriniare: There is. Yeah, we, we eventually want to be , but we want to do with a bunch of dads is to be able to help fathers around the world.
We really want to pick this up and start advocating further for father’s rights, uh, advocating for fathers everywhere. Um, you know, if you’re downtrodden, I mean, it doesn’t mean you’re not a dad. If you’re stuck in a situation when you’ve become a dad and you didn’t think you’d become a dad, you know what your dad.
You know, sometimes your mom goes to the hospital and she’s in a coma and you’re stuck with two sisters and you’ve got to raise them at an age of 23. Guess what? Now you’re a dad and you need help like that. And there’s not a whole lot of places around because you’re technically not a father at that point.
So eventually what we want to do is we want to supplement for all these extra categories, to where it’s hard for people to get in there. And we want to champion father’s rights everywhere. The goal is, you know, w w right now we’re at 123,000 and change 180,000. If you can include them all, I dunno, like 3 billion.
I think that’s the goal. If we get 3 billion, we’ll be happy.
David Hirsch: Is that about the number of men on the planet? Is that what that?
Chris LaFriniare: I, I think that, I think that’s about dads. I figured that there’s like 9 billion. I’d figure if there’s nine, you know, there’s six, you know, split all the differences. Well,
David Hirsch: what I love is that you’re thinking big thinking outside the box.
There’s a phrase that I picked up and maybe business terms is called “BHAG”. Have you ever heard of that, Chris?
Chris LaFriniare: I’ve not heard that one.
David Hirsch: It stands for big hairy audacious goal. And that’s what you’ve just outlined is to say. Yeah, I think we’d be, I think we’d be satisfied if we got 3 billion dads. That’s pretty cool.
So I’m gonna thank you about advice now, and I’m wondering, um, what advice specifically, what’d you give to a dad like yourself? Who’s got a child, maybe children with special needs.
Chris LaFriniare: So down, slow down yourself, slow down everything. You’re your child’s going to move at exactly the speed that they want to move at.
Um, you can push and by all means, do your job push, but slow yourself down. Your expectations are not, their reality is not their reality. Let go of what you expect and just kind of get a grip on what do you believe they would like to be. Now what you would like them to be, but what they would like to be and understand that your happiness is everything.
And yeah, if they’re happy, I guarantee you will be happy. There’s literally never been a time where my Charles has been laughing his butt off, extremely ecstatic with what’s going on. And I’ve been like, Oh, this is awful because that’s exactly what life is about for anybody. No matter how smart you are, no matter how slow you are, no matter how privileged you are.
The idea is to be happy and you never allow your child to be happy. And I think you need to allow yourself to be happy. Allow everybody to be happy. I guess that’s the biggest thing.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, I love it. You do this a lot, right? You’re already mentoring, you know, thousands and thousands of deaths, um, through your Facebook community.
Um, and no doubt, uh, probably one-on-one with men you’ve met who have children with autism or special needs, but, uh, I’m sort of wondering why is it you’ve agreed to be part of the Special Fathers Network and serve as a mentor like you do.
Chris LaFriniare: It’s what we do. I mean, that’s what dads do, right? It’s it’s our job.
It’s honestly my job to help. Everybody I can raise the next generation of leaders and gentlemen and women and people and citizens and the right kind of people, which are empathetic individuals who have honestly happiness within them. Like we don’t need anymore. Loosen. I don’t know. Like we need more happiness.
We need more. Everything. Oh God, why you, why would you not, I guess is my question. Why wouldn’t you, why wouldn’t you want the next generation to be better? Yeah, the responsibility is within me to just do it because you have to.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thank you for being part of the group. Um, it’s very inspiring. So let’s give a special shout out to a mutual friend, Jonathan Edward for helping connect us.
I understand he’s one of your admins and he’s also an admin with the Peloton. Yeah. It’s Facebook group as well.
Chris LaFriniare: Yeah. Yeah. He’s a good dude. He’s a, he’s a former BMW BMW drivers. So we won’t hold it and against him, he is a currently and Rover driver. We also won’t hold that against them, but he is a good dude and he, you know, he’s, he’s a proponent of human rights and he’s a really decent person.
I’ll tell you what, uh, Jonathan’s a really good dude. I’ve known him for probably online for two or three years now.
David Hirsch: Yeah, that’s fabulous. So is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up Chris?
Chris LaFriniare: Honestly, I’d just like to thank everybody who was involved with a bunch of dads all together, um, to everybody, honestly, it has been involved, uh, Travis and Tim, and both them as to Andrew Downs to our guys in Alaska, every guy who has been a dad, man, present.
Future past has done an extremely great job of building a community of fathers. Who continually help others be better in every facet, whether it be home improvement, our new group that just hit 20,000 out of nowhere, whether it be gaming, which is a fun group, whether it be cooking, you know, we do Blackstone and stuff like crazy, you know, as all these other groups, cars and motors, when you’re helping fix a starter, these guys are phenomenal and they do it for the absolute price of zero.
Free. So that’s the kind of people we need it in the world. It’s amazing. When you can get a whole bunch of people together who do a job for absolutely no pay. I can’t believe that we’ve been able to grow, grow a group like this and having people like you. Uh, Sarah, they haven’t even come in and interview with me is priceless as well.
Then I appreciate you.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thank you. Um, if somebody wants to learn about a bunch of dads, one of the subgroups, um, or just to contact you, what’s the best way to do that.
Chris LaFriniare: Chris, best way to contact me would be at my personal email, a cLaFriniare@gmail.com. That’s CLaFriniare@gmail.com.
Um, Easiest way. Uh, otherwise you could contact us, uh, through the group itself. If you send the group, uh, a message, a private message. You you’ll go through either Travis or myself. One of us will get right back to you. Uh, any questions you have if you want in your father come and see us. You know, we’re a bunch of dads, you know, um, we have so many subgroups.
It’s crazy. Even if you don’t like the craziness of the main, you love the craziness of the other ones. Trust me.
David Hirsch: I love it. We’ll make sure that that goes into the show notes as well. And I was thinking maybe you need to change the name of the group to a big bunch of dads, as opposed to just a bunch a Dads.
Chris LaFriniare: A big bunch of Dads Yeah. We’re not that big yet. Well, I can’t wait. Can we get a bigger bunch of dads, a biggest bunch of dads. Now you’re probably trying to do is give people a reason to copy our name, no kidding.
David Hirsch: Well, Chris, thank you for your time. In many insights. As a reminder, Chris is just one of the dads. Who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.
As you probably know, the 21st century dad’s foundation as a 501 c3, not for profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free. To all concerned, please consider making a tax deductible donation. I would really appreciate your support.
Chris. Thanks again.
Chris LaFriniare: Thank you.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Dad to Dad podcast presented by the Special Fathers Network. The Special Fathers Network is a Dad to Dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs.
Through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support fathers. Go to 21stcenturydads.org.org. That’s 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. ,Please go to facebook.com groups and search Dad to Dad.
Also, please be sure to register for the Special Fathers Network biweekly zoom calls held on the phone. First and third Tuesdays of every month.
Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stcenturydads.org.
Tom Couch: And If you enjoyed this podcast, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen. The Dad to Dad podcast was produced by Couch Audio for the Special Fathers Network. Thanks again to Rubin Law for supporting the Dad to Dad podcast. Call Rubin Law at (847) 279-7999 and mention the Special Fathers Network for a free consultation. (847) 279-7999.