TFC Fathering Festival

The Fathering Festival: celebrating fathers and deepening connections among them.

The Fathering Festival presented by The Fathering Circle is dedicated to building tools to free fathers of the constraints of limiting male behavior patterns as we develop parenting practices that nurture, respect and empower our children, creating more equitable parenting practices with mothers and other parenting partners.

The festival will take place:

Saturday November 11  10- 5pm

Sunday November 12   10-5pm

The Perelman Building of The Philadelphia Museum of Art

2525 Pennsylvania Ave. Phila Pa 19130

Come celebrate, participate and learn with us:

  • performances of Spoken Word, Dance & Theater, based on fathers’ stories from throughout Philadelphia
  • film screenings
  • childrens’ arts programs
  • Parenting workshops and forums for fathers and mothers

For more information on The Fathering Circle email

Phone: 267-499-3923

The Fathering Festival is organized by Eric Marsh, Les Rivera, and Billy Yalowitz, and is a collaborative project of Philadelphia Assembled and The Fathering Circle.

Additional funding provided by the Temple University Presidential Humanities & Arts Research Program


The Fathering Circle Key Principals

Parenting is the most human, rewarding and challenging of  human undertakings.  Being a father is a rich ongoing opportunity to be close to, learn with, guide, teach, play with and  learn from a young human. Parenting can bring out the best in us as men, and in so doing also challenges us in the deepest ways. As we as men seek to more deeply engage with our children – to go further than our fathers had the opportunity to go with us as parents — it makes a crucial difference to build a network of fathers to gain support from, share in the work, and develop successful and effective parenting practices.
One of the key things that we can do to improve our parenting practices is to become aware of the ways that our socialization as males and our childhood as boys impacts our fathering.  As males raised in this society,  we bring both strengths and areas of challenge to our parenting.  Male socialization is strong on requiring individual strength, but short on encouraging the  capacities for closeness and nurturing which  are  so important in parenting.
Our approach in the Fathering Circle is to develop a network among fathers to offer mutual  support, gain parenting skills, and also to heal and recover from those aspects of our upbringing as males that tend to limit our effectiveness in fully engaging with our children.
Our work begins with taking turns listening to each other as we talk about what we love about  being a father, what  we discover about ourselves as we parent, and what is difficult, confusing, and challenging.  We share significant memories of our own fathers or males who helped raise us, and begin to identify what we want to keep and what we want to transform from these relationships.  We look at how we were and are affected by the sexism and misogyny in our culture, and how those attitudes towards females affect our relationships with our parenting partners, and with our  daughters and sons.
We begin to practice parenting skills focused on listening to our children, following their minds in play, learning to be present when they need to release feelings through tears.  The skills, based on the work of  Re-evaluation Counseling Family Work, brings understandings of the power of young people and how to support their flourishing. We learn to carve out dedicated periods of time to follow their lead, with our attention fully on them , to allow them to both explore the world fully and also to show us feelings that they may have hidden away.  We learn to play with them in active and thoughtful ways,  following their intelligence and capacities for fun and imagination – and sometimes to make games of areas where they feel tension and fear, and where  we are sometimes inflexible.  We  learn to bring limits to them sensitively in ways that both protect them and allow them to recover from  and channel  angry and aggressive feelings.  We learn alternatives to ways that we may have been mistreated as children,  while building on our own unique strengths as fathers.

Re-examining parenting from the inside out.

Being a parent isn’t easy.

Being a parent, male or female is one of the hardest roles anyone could ever have. We are expected to hold the health, sanity and fate of another human being in our hands. Particularly when that person is at their weakest, loudest, stinkiest, unintelligible, most vulnerable time in their life and not screw them up or unleash a monster on the rest of society. No pressure. No child comes with a manual (Dr. Spock is as close as we’ve gotten). The ancient African saying “It takes a village to raise a child” gives us a clue that it’s no easy task and that everyone, men and women need to be a part of raising a child. This was generally a globally accepted concept until the industrial revolution and modernization arrived.

With the start of World War I and the sudden increase in manufacturing and production, men began leaving the home for longer and longer amounts of time. Spending less time with their families and becoming less involved in the day to day raising and rearing of their children. The impact of this male disconnect on families and societies has been spreading ever since. Not only did men become physically distant from their wives and children but the stress of external pressures made them emotionally distant too. As women were relegated to baby making domestic property expected to stay inside the home, men became working, material possession providing machines outside the home.

Fast forward to today. We are witnessing a new paradigm shift towards egalitarian parenting. A shift where women are leaders in the global economy and men can be emotionally expressive care-givers. Many men today are realizing with the changing world that they can no longer afford to remain the emotionless, detached stereotypical dad of the 50’s and 60’s. Not only is the child losing out but he loses as well. Studies have shown that children thrive when both parents are present and attentive and that men benefit through improved mental and physical health.

Women have had decades of science and socialization supporting their efforts to be better parents. Countless books, studies and research papers have focused on and supported women in their parenting. Unfortunately men haven’t been provided with the same support. In fact the expectation is that men will in fact be bumbling, clumsy parents. More likely to put the baby in a life threatening predicament than to properly change her diaper. It’s time for that to change.

The Fathers’ Circle focuses on the need for healthy egalitarian parenting practices that do away with outdated gender specific roles and opens up all parents, both men and women to the full range of chores and joys associated with raising children for the benefit of the family. We believe that men and women should be equally prepared to not only create a child but to raise that child into a flourishing humane individual.

We achieve this by three different means:

  • Peer to peer discussion circles
  • Topic focused lectures, presentations and workshops
  • Social events and activities for the whole family

The Fathers’ Circle uses art at the center of all our efforts to reach the emotional core of what it means to be a father or father figure. Through the use of choreography, film making, writing and acting we lead our men to a new, deeper understanding of what our women and children need from us.

The Fathers’ Circle began as part of the art as social justice exhibit known as Philadelphia Assembled #PhilAssembled in the Fall of 2016 under the “atmosphere” of Movement. The collaborators, Billy Yalowitz, Les Rivera and Eric Marsh Sr form the core circle of TFC. We envision the Philadelphia Assembled project as the stone dropped into the water of our world, sending out concentric circles of influence on fathers and families everywhere. 

Contact us to learn how you can be a part of the movement.