Welcome to the fourth installment of our 10-week podcast series, "Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell."
This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about raising sons.
Since boys and girls are different, being a father to them presents different challenges and opportunities. Mark, a father of three boys and one girl, has some great advice for being a great dad to your son.
Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to raising sons.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Welcome to the fourth installment of our 10-week podcast series, "Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell."
Friday, October 28, 2011
I got coffee last week with a friend of mine – a woman who’s a few years older than me, married, and a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, including a 4-month-old. I love talking with this lady and hearing about her life. As a single working woman, I appreciate getting perspective on a different lifestyle than my own.
My friend asked me to tell her more about what I do with National Fatherhood Initiative. As I explained our mission and work, she shared that she has recently experienced how much of a difference having an involved father makes for her as a mom.
She said her husband sometimes didn’t seem to know how to be involved with the kids when they first became parents – largely because his own father had not contributed much to housework or childcare – but now that they’re on kid #3, he’s really shown a lot of initiative. Especially during her difficult pregnancy, he had to do pretty much everything in the home and for the two children. His wife expressed how much she appreciated that he has cheerfully taken on extra responsibility.
My friend said that three great things have happened because her husband is helping more with the kids and the housework. #1 Their marriage is stronger. She is more attracted to him and has more energy to spend time with him. #2 Their home is more peaceful. She doesn’t have to constantly be giving directions – “Okay, this needs to be taken care of right now,” “Honey, can you brush the kids’ teeth?” – because he is noticing and doing things that need to be done. #3 The kids have a closer relationship with their dad. Instead of constantly going to Mom for what they want, they have started choosing Dad to help them or play with them.
I know, theoretically, that all of those things happen when dads are more involved. Everything my friend said was in synch with what NFI’s research has shown. And, as a daughter, I know that having an involved dad made a huge impact in my life. But it was really neat to hear a first-hand perspective from a mom/wife on how much she values the support she has from her husband and how their family benefits from his involvement as a dad.
Moms, how has your husband made a difference in your family by becoming more involved in helping around the house and taking care of the kids? What do you appreciate most about him?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The best thing about Subaru's "Baby Driver" ad is that you don't even know what model Subaru is being advertised.
How many car commercials have you seen in which, at the end of the commercial, you don't actually know the name of the car? Your answer, if you have seen "Baby Driver," is probably "one."
So, why did Subaru do this? Why did they "break the rules of advertising"?
We were lucky enough to get the answer straight from the folks at Subaru last week when we presented them with a Fatherhood Award for their great work on "Baby Driver."
What they told us is that they wanted to focus on the relationship between the father and daughter in the ad (who happen to be a real life father and daughter!), and not on the specifics of the car. They were more interested in face-to-face than cargo space.
And that is why we gave Subaru a Fatherhood Award. Too often, father-child relationships are reduced to punchlines on TV. Subaru decided to show real life fatherhood - dads who care about the safety of their children and "live life deeply" with them.
We are hopeful that more and more companies will follow Subaru's lead. They have good economics reasons to - new research is showing that dads are becoming more and more involved in family purchasing decisions. When dads are portrayed well, everyone wins - dads, moms, kids, and the company's bottom line.
Bravo to Subaru for such a great ad that sends such a great message... After all, "Love" is what makes a Subaru a Subaru.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Regular readers of our blog know that we occasionally honor individuals, corporations, and organizations with our Fatherhood Award™ for their work to strengthen involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood. (Click here to learn more about our Fatherhood Award™ and see a list of recent and past honorees.)
We need YOU to help us choose the next recipient of our Fatherhood Award™. We selected three wonderful television commercials by Chevrolet, Oreo, and Volkswagen that portray fathers interacting with their children in heart-warming ways. A special page on our Facebook allows people to view the commercials and vote for their favorite. The ad that receives the most votes by November 6 will receive a Fatherhood Award™ from National Fatherhood Initiative.
Would you take 2 minutes to click on this link, watch the three commercials, and vote for the one you think is most deserving of a Fatherhood Award™? Vote every day between now and November 6 - and tell your friends and colleagues to vote too!
We guarantee that these short videos will bring a smile to your face. In a time TV typically portrays dads as dumb, disaffected, or dangerous, it's really encouraging to see corporate brands depicting fathers in positive ways in their advertising. We want to see more of these types of ads and that's why we're doing this contest on Facebook. Take a look and vote - no matter whether you vote for Chevrolet, Oreo, or Volkswagen, you're casting a vote for a brand that recognizes the importance of dads!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Welcome to the third installment of our 10-week podcast series, Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell.
This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about raising daughters.
Since boys and girls are different, being a father to them presents different challenges and opportunities. Mark, a father of three boys and one girl, has some great advice for being a great dad to your daughter (next week, we’ll hear what he has to say about raising sons).
Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to raising daughters.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
A few years ago, I was on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show called “The Secret Thoughts of Fathers.” The show featured about 10 dads, most of whom had wives that were concerned about their fathering. In typical Oprah fashion, camera crews were sent to the family homes.
As we watched the video segments at the beginning of the show, there was one father who stood out from the rest because his family was in a real crisis. His wife was clearly frustrated with his lack of engagement with the family, and his young son, who clearly idolized his dad, was hurting badly from his dad’s rejection. It was evident that this dad's passion was elsewhere.
When the video clip ended, Oprah turned to me and said, “So, Roland, what do you have to say to this father?” Well, this was live TV and I was on the spot. But, fortunately, the right words came to me and I said, “Your son doesn’t want to know about you. He wants to know you.” Before I could say more, Oprah repeated what I said, and then said, “That’s good…I’m going to be quoting you on that one.” The father nodded in agreement.
He had a moment of clarity.
I was reminded of that moment recently when I read the below excerpt from a soon-to-be released book titled “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.
“A few weeks ago, I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, Calif., home…We talked about his childhood, and he gave me some pictures of his father and family to use in my biography. As a writer, I was used to being detached, but I was hit by a wave of sadness as I tried to say goodbye. In order to mask my emotion, I asked the one question that was still puzzling me: Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private? “I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
As I read these words, I was stuck by the irony of two things. First, I am typing these words on a MacBook Pro, which I love, and plugged into it is my iPad, which I love even more.
Second, and sadly, it is clear that Jobs, who poured his heart, soul, and passion into these and other wonderful devices, regretted his failure to bring to “market” something of more importance…the iDad. Alas, there is a common saying that people close to death generally do not wish that they had spent more time at the office. What matters most at that crucial time is not what you were working on, but rather whom you were working for. Steve Jobs, exceptional in many ways, was no exception.
I don’t say these things to be disrespectful towards a dad who has died, but rather, as a warning for the dads who are still here. As fathers, we are all susceptible to creating false dichotomies when it comes to balancing work and family. For example, there are some who would assert that in order for Jobs to become a transformational business leader, he had to sacrifice his children at the altar of success. Jobs could not be a legendary innovator and an involved father. That’s just the way it is, they would say.
But ironically, Jobs’ life and management style did nothing if not dispel the notion of false dichotomies. He was raised by working class parents, dropped out of college, and went on to become a master of complex technologies. In fact, he challenged Apple’s engineers to develop a phone that both a 50-year-old businessman and a 14-year-old girl would covet. And, he topped this feat by tasking them to develop a laptop that was as powerful as the best on the market, yet as light as air.
Alas, Jobs was never an “either/or” kind of guy. He was a “both/and” man who thrived on making the seemingly impossible possible. Yet, the excerpt above suggests that he may not have brought this characteristic to his role as a father. And in the end, he hoped to make things right with his children.
The problem is that his children didn’t want to know about him, they wanted to know him. And despite all of our wonderful technology, knowing someone is less high tech and more “high touch.”
Several years after I did the Oprah Show, a woman approached me after I finished a speech. She looked me straight in eyes and said, “You don’t remember me, do you?” And, I had to admit that I didn’t. Well, it turns out that she was the wife of the man on the Oprah show whose family was in crisis. She told me that the show was a turning point for her husband. In fact, he changed almost immediately, and became an incredibly engaged father. He had discovered his iDad.
Friday, October 14, 2011
When you work for a non-profit, you often see strange donation amounts come through. $201... $36...$4. Often, the meaning has significane to the donor. When we saw a $52 donation come through, we wondered the same thing, but this time we found out why!
A husband and wife team in New York City has committed to making 2011 a year of giving. Every Friday they donate $52 to a charity they support. On September 23, 2011 they picked NFI. Read more about why here!
Thank you 52Times52 for your support!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
We have heard from a lot of you about what you thought of the movie, Courageous. This time, we wanted to share reaction to the movie from our own staff. The feedback speaks for itself!
- "Good films not only entertain, they speak powerfully into deeply personal issues or important social problems. Great films speak to both. On that measure, Courageous is a great film. It is one of the most emotionally powerful films I have seen in along time; it hits very close to home for dads like me who grew up without their fathers. It also intelligently tackles the social crisis of our time--the widespread absence of fathers from the lives of our nation's children." -- NFI president, Roland C. Warren, from his guest column about Courageous on about.com.
- "Courageous is a wonderful film that provides fathers with the inspiration they need to become the fathers their children need them to be. Any father who sees this movie can't leave without the sense of courage needed to take action and step up to say "I Will" in leading his children and family." -- Melissa Steward, Senior Director of Marketing and Program Support
- "This movie grips you from the start- it felt a lot more real-life and grittier than some of the previous films by this group. The story makes you really think about the incredible impact fathers can have in their children's lives - real fatherhood is not coasting along, it must be intentional." -- Ave Mulhern, Program Support Consultant
- "The stories are presented in a mostly realistic way and you can envision similar conversations occurring throughout households in America. The discussion of responsible fatherhood is woven throughout film in different ways along with the negative consequences of father absence. Although I assumed that they would go "hard" with the fatherhood message, I didn't expect it to be so funny! We laughed out loud at many different scenes and even retold them later! I think they did a great job of conveying a moral while still entertaining you." -- Elaine Barber, Senior Director of Events and Logistics
- “From the opening scene to the very end, I was taken in by the powerful message of Christ-centered transformation and what can happen when a father’s heart is turned towards his children. It’s hard to walk away from the movie without a greater sense of just how much our children are relying on us as dads to be there for them.” -- Mike Yudt, Director of Program Support Services
- "I appreciated how Courageous depicted the challenges and struggles of dads in all walks of life: married dads, a dad with part-time custody, a “dead-beat” dad, a dad who grew up without his own father, a dad who’s struggling to make ends meet for his family, an incarcerated dad. It’s a movie that men in all areas of fathering will be able to relate to and will be challenged by – even dads who are positively involved in their children’s lives will be motivated to be more than a “good enough” dad. -- Renae Smith, Corporate Outreach Coordinator
- "Had an AWESOME date night with my wife last night celebrating our 14th Wedding Anniversary! We went to an Asian restaurant that just opened ... Then, we went to see Courageous. WOW! What a GREAT movie! I absolutely LOVED it...so did Angie. Other than when I saw The Passion of the Christ, I've never shed so many tears during a movie...
it made you go through EVERY emotion. SO POWERFUL!" -- Rick Barnes, Graphic Design Consultant
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
This is a guest post from Jeff Allanach, a newspaper editor in Maryland. Jeff is a married father of two children, and writes about fatherhood in his weekly column. You can follow Jeff on his Facebook page, Adventures in Fatherhood.
I expected “Courageous” to give me a renewed sense of dedication to living the life of a great father and setting the right example for my children. After all, the movie emphasizes the need for fathers to play an active role in the lives of their children, which I already do.
But I felt a greater sense of a need for deep reflection as I looked inward and saw a character I did not expect to see: Nathan Hayes.
Nathan is the newest deputy in the sheriff’s office that is pivotal in the movie. He is a loving husband, and the dedicated father of three children, so much so that risks his life to save his
He also grew up fatherless, and could have turned out to be another statistic were it not for the efforts of a mentor who kept him straight and introduced him to a life of faith.
I felt connected to Nathan because I, too, grew up fatherless. Nathan explained it to David Thomson, a young deputy who just finished his rookie year on the force, after David asked him if he really felt he had a messed up childhood because he did not have a dad.
“More than you know,” Nathan responds. He goes on to tell him about the scars he still lives with even though he is a loving and involved father in his children’s lives.
Men usually shrug at having grown up fatherless, unwilling to confront the raw feelings of abandonment that inevitably comes with it.
Yet regardless of the reasons for a father’s absence, the results are the same. A boy who has no father has no role model, and will search for one wherever he can find it. Some find a false one in gangs. The lucky ones find one in church, other reputable organizations, or a mixture of influential people in their lives.
Some never find one, and are at greater risk of poverty, drug use, and even jail.
I admit that some days I shrug less than others at my father’s absence, but the scars are always with me.
No one taught me how to catch a baseball, and I can still feel the ridicule of other kids after letting the ball fly past me in right field. If I search deeply enough, I can feel the envy of other Boy Scouts whose dads taught them how to tie a knot or build a campfire. And I still have a scar to remind me that my father wasn’t around to teach me not to drag a razor horizontally across my upper lip.
Nathan’s scars may have been different, but they were scars nonetheless. Yet he also did something I aspire to do someday. He forgave his father. With all of his heart and soul, Nathan forgave his father for abandoning him as a child.
But here is a key difference between Nathan and me. Nathan’s father is dead. He has no way of knowing if his father regretted abandoning him or not, yet Nathan forgave him anyway in a touching graveside scene.
Nathan showed his courage by risking his life to save his infant daughter, but it takes infinitely more courage to forgive the man who so blatantly wronged him.
My father is alive, but has expressed no remorse for leaving his wife and four children 35 years ago. How does someone forgive another who has not asked for it?
Nathan did, and I wonder if I have the same courage inside of me.
So, is “Courageous” a movie about fatherlessness and the need for men to play an active role in the lives of their children? Or is it a movie about forgiveness, and a father letting go of the scars he feels having grown up fatherless?
It’s both. I just need to decide which one speaks more loudly to me.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Welcome to the second installment of our 10-week podcast series, Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell.
This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about helping your children deal with disappointment.
We all know that disappointments are not a question of “if” but of “when.” But we can use the disappointments our children will face as opportunities to teach them how to pick themselves up and go forward. Listen to Mark talking with Roland about “failing well.”
Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to dealing with disappointment.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
The New York Times published this piece entitled "Why Does It Matter That Families Eat Together?" Not surprising, it talks about the large amounts of research that show that kids that eat with their families do better in school, are less likely to do drugs or to be obese. What they didn't mention is seen in the documentary photo series that accompanies the piece. Take a look. Do you notice anything?
In almost every photo, there is a father pictured. Is it a coincidence that kids that have an involved father do better in school, are less likely to do drugs or be obese? We think not.
Tell us dads... do you eat regularly with your kids?
This is a guest post from Dr. Clarence Shuler. Dr Shuler is an author, marriage counselor, speaker and life & relationship coach. He is President/CEO of BLR: Building Lasting Relationships, a non-profit helping individuals and organizations develop mutually-beneficial relationships. Dr. Shuler and his wife Brenda have three college-aged daughters.
More than a few fathers and mothers gave me a warning when my three girls were young. Their warning was that as soon as my girls became teenagers that they wouldn’t want to spend time with me. Their warning troubled me.
Unintentionally, I almost made their prediction come true. It hit me in two ways. First, while on our family vacation to Disney World, I realized that my girls were getting what was left over in my time. My girls deserved and needed my best, so I changed my priority to focus on my girls after their mother and then my job.
Secondly, as a self-employed struggling new writer, I kept the door of my home office closed. My little girls love me, so they wouldn’t even knock on the door because they didn’t want to disturb me. Maybe it was the grace of God that had me move my office to the basement and keep my office door open.
Like clockwork, with an open door, all my girls from elementary school through high school as soon as they came home would come down to my office to say, “Hello” and touch base with me. It was a little humbling initially because they only wanted five minutes or so to say, “I love you Dad.” I responded, “I love you too. How was your day?” I didn’t ask yes/no questions.
My girls knew with my “open door” policy that they were and are more important than anything I’m writing. They said it gave them security knowing they had access to me. Even when I travel for a speaking engagement or consulting, my girls know that if they call, I’m going to answer my cell. I may ask, “Can we talk later?” But I’m going to answer their call.
I also began taking my girls on some of my trips so we could have some one-on-one time. This was more work because when I finished working, there was no down time, but I made memories with them forever! It was good use of those frequent flyer miles and hotel points!
Teaching and coaching my girls in basketball and tennis resulted in bonding more with them. Children and wives spell love: T-I-M-E!
The payoff has been my girls asking me to come see them in college and calling to share their lives with me. I often text them: “I LOVE YOU.”
With my twins being 22 years old and my baby 21, I’m glad they want me in their lives. It isn’t about being perfect. I’ve certainly blown things; but forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It is about consistency. Often, I asked my girls how I was doing as their dad. We had some relevant discussions. They helped me father them better. We all made some changes. They appreciated me apologizing when I was wrong. It is about quantity time, not quality time. QUALITY TIME comes out of QUANTITY TIME.
What I’m trying to say is that my daughters love spending time with me, which is one of the greatest gifts that I continue to treasure.
Food Network's "Chopped" Champion, Chef Madison Cowan gave us his thoughts on cooking with kids for Fit2Father Week Four!
As a crumb snatcher coming up during the early 70s, pork pies, cheese and onion pasties and (my personal favourite) codfish patties were weekly staples round my yard. These quick snacks, warming in the oven, created a comforting aroma that met you at the door after school. Cheap, delicious and loaded with fat and preservatives but nonetheless spot on when nothing else was ready to hand.
Nowadays when time is limited and funds are short, my daughter and I pop round the shops for fresh ingredients to make quesadillas. Well balanced and nutritious, they’re the perfect meal for a family of any size. Start by heating a dry, non-stick pan over medium-heat, place a multigrain or spinach tortilla in the pan and sprinkle on a large handful of grated, low-sodium cheddar. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the following vegetable mixture over half of the tortilla:
Scallions 3, chopped
Fresh coriander 1 small handful, chopped
Scotch bonnet chili 1 small, seeds removed and finely chopped
Tinned black beans 1 handful, rinsed and drained
Finish it off with tinned tuna (drained and flaked), cooked chicken strips, cooked shrimp or thinly sliced medium rare skirt steak. When the cheese starts to melt, fold the quesadilla in half and toast both sides until golden brown. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut in half. Serve with a side of salsa or guacamole and enjoy.
The good thing is they're as wholesome as they are fun and effortless to make. So round up the lil’ ones, get cooking and eat well without breaking the bank.
It's not too late to get Fit2Father! Pledge today!
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Rob Kardashian (yes, of those Kardashians) is a contestant on the new season of Dancing With the Stars. After his first dance, the commentator pointed out that he must have learned how to deal with strong women (alluding to his dance partner, Cheryl Burke) by growing up in a house with his five sisters and his mother. He responded by saying, “I learned how to be a gentleman from all those beautiful women.”
At that point, I threw my hands up in exasperation.
To help you understand why I was so befuddled by this statement, I will present an alternative scenario.
A woman is on a TV show and she appears to be very “ladylike” in her behavior. The host of the show says as much, and she responds, “I learned how to be a lady from my five brothers and my father.”
No one would ever say that because it would be silly… at best.
So then why is it “acceptable” for a man to say he learned how to be a gentleman from his sisters and mother? Even more, Kardashian has a stepfather, Bruce Jenner, and a biological father (Robert, who was divorced from his mom and passed away when Rob was 16).
Now, I can understand the notion that women can demand or expect gentlemanly behavior from a man. But they can’t possibly model that behavior for them; only another man can do that.
Besides, don’t you think that if a young man is being “instructed” by his sisters and mother to treat them nicely that, in the absence of a responsible father, it could actually backfire? He may resent being told what to do, especially when he becomes a teenager and is looking for male guidance and answers from men about what it means to be a man.
I am not debating whether or not Rob Kardashian is a gentleman; I have no idea if he is or not. However, I do not believe that any young man can learn gentlemanly behavior from just watching women’s behavior.
For Rob Kardashian, if he is in fact a gentleman, my guess is that it was not from his mother and sisters, but his stepfather and his biological father (for whom Rob just did a tribute on Dancing With the Stars) from whom he learned how to be a gentleman. Why he did not credit those men in his statement is a topic for another blog post…
Why am I writing any of this at all? While, in the grand scheme of things it does not matter where Rob Kardashian learned how to be a gentleman (if in fact he did), it is important for our culture to recognize the unique and irreplaceable role that fathers play in their children’s lives. And one of those roles is to model gentlemanly behavior for his sons, and to show his daughters the gentlemanly behavior they should expect from men. I guess thinking those lessons will come out of Dancing With the Stars is a bit too much for me to expect. Oh, well.
Monday, October 3, 2011
This is a post from National Fatherhood Initiative’s Executive Vice President, Christopher Brown.
I’ve thought a lot recently about the value Americans place on respect and the role that parents and the media play in communicating the importance of respect to our nation’s children.
What brought this issue home to me recently is the behavior of my daughter’s high-school classmates during a speech that President Obama gave last week to students across the country.
This isn’t the first year that the President has delivered a speech to the nation’s school children on the importance of school and a good education. While President Obama has made it an annual address, previous Presidents also addressed our nation’s school children on the importance of school and a good education (including both George W. and George H.W. Bush).
When Obama first started his speeches, I thought it strange that parents were given a form they could sign to “opt out” their children from hearing the speech. Why would I not want my child to hear the President of the United States deliver a speech on the importance of school and getting a good education? Perhaps only that I have an unfounded, paranoid fear that the President would deliver a partisan speech and that, as a result, my child would be co-opted into a way of thinking that I disagree with. If a President had that level of influence, I’d tell him to talk about the importance of eating your vegetables.
At any rate, my daughter reported that her classmates were so disrespectful—hooping and hollering and calling the President names—that she couldn’t even hear parts of the speech. She was genuinely disgusted with the behavior and wondered why these kids—some of whom are her friends—would show such disrespect simply because they don’t agree with or like the President (similar stories emerged of a lack of respect for President George W. Bush as well)
Should we be surprised by this behavior? Not when we live in a nation that has become so polarized politically that words like “respect” and “compromise” and “moderate” have become nostalgic words, at best. In a media-saturated world in which partisan radio, TV, and Internet outlets have grown in number and influence, it is critical that fathers teach their children that they can respect and disagree with someone at the same time without attacking the person’s character.
Fathers have much more influence on their children than any President, and they should help their children develop values necessary for a democracy to thrive, such as the values of compromise and common courtesy. In fact, one of the core values of NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ program is to respect others, teach children to do the same, and extend respect through common courtesy—a cultural value that appears to be slowly, sadly disappearing.