Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday Gifts with a Purpose

While you're scrambling to get those Cyber Monday deals, check out the fatherhood resources available at FatherSOURCE, our online store.  These resources are filled with helpful information and are a meaningful gift for a father in your life.  Plus, when you buy these resources, you're helping support our work. 

Check out our selection of gifts and apparel here.

You can pick up a New Dad's Pocket Guide for a new father you know or check out our 'Dad is a Verb' t-shirt.  No matter what you pick, your purchase helps us support the 24 million children currently living without a father.

Happy shopping!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Post: Engaging Emotionally with their Children is Each Father’s Challenge

This is a guest post from Denise Pazur, executive director for The PDV Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing suicide prevention. You can learn more at

It could well be the most frightening thing a parent can face—death of a child by suicide.

Other sudden, unintentional deaths by murder or automobile fatality are horrific. Yet there’s something incomprehensible about a son or daughter deliberately ending the life we as parents have given them. In this way, suicide stands apart from perhaps all other deaths.

Rates of suicide for American youths have tripled since the 1950s, and this should serve as a call to action for parents nationwide, especially fathers. The message is clear and resounding: suicide is the most preventable form of death there is, according to 16th U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. Our children are dying by their own hand not because they want to die, but because they can no longer endure the “psychache” of living. This mental anguish is most often an outcome of mental illness, not bad or selfish behavior.

My own son took his life a decade ago, when he was just 18 and had entered his senior year of high school. It is hard for me to think of him as someone with mental illness. But depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are indeed illnesses of the mind and the emotions. When left unrecognized, untreated or undertreated, they can be lethal—just as untreated diabetes or cancer can kill.

Why is it vital to strengthen the engagement of fathers with their children who may have mental illness? Because when a child is abnormally anxious, fearful, angry, self-loathing or disengaged from life, fathers may not recognize these as symptoms of a biologically based brain illness. They may encourage their children, especially their sons, to buck up under pressure.

“Boys don’t cry” are among our parental narratives, words we feel may strengthen our children to endure future trial and trauma. But there are unintended consequences for not recognizing and addressing mental illness in our children.

This avoidance of the reality of our children’s mental health may place them at grave risk for behaviors that can lead to self-inflicted death. What can seem at first as “normal” adolescent outbursts may in reality be cries for help. I remember my son telling me, “Mom, I know what I’m doing.” I remember his anger and rebellion against our rules as he neared his 18th birthday. I also recall thinking these were age appropriate for the most part, and would end when he graduated from high school and started life on his own. That day never came.

The call to action to fathers is compelling: fathers need to engage deeply in the emotional well-being of their children if our nation is to do better at reducing youth suicide. It is their role as parent and provider to safeguard their children’s health—including mental health.

As long as emotional nurturing of children is mom-centric, each child does not benefit from a father’s acknowledgment that admitting emotional struggle shows honesty. That seeking help shows strength. And that accepting help from others may indeed save a life.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Thankful Campaign: Thankful for the Example

Author Michael McQueen shared with us what he is thankful for in this guest blog post. Micheal's book, Memento, is a great resource to help fathers pass down their legacy to their children. Learn more about Michael and the Memento story here.

My dad was one of most organized people I have ever met. He started every day with a task list numbered in descending order of importance, along with a carefully orchestrated schedule with hourly breakdowns. As a family of 7, I guess dad needed to be as organized as he was – there was always someone who needed to be dropped off at soccer practice, swimming lessons, or scouts.

What I loved and respected most about my dad though is that in the midst of all this busyness and his drive to make the most of every hour of the day, he was never too busy for me, my brothers, and our mom. Sure, he’d have times of being distracted and ‘unavailable’ like every father (and human being), but when it mattered, he was there – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I am so thankful for the priority he placed on family and the things that mattered.

I am so thankful for the example he set.

He may not be with us any longer, but the example of his lived-out priorities, not the checklist of this accomplishments, is what I remember and am thankful for most.

To join the campaign, visit or tweet with the hashtag #thanksdad.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Thankful Campaign: Thankful for the Hugs and Kisses

NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya told us what he is thankful for in this guest blog post. Read on and then tell us what you are thankful for at The Thankful Campaign.

To be a dad is a great feeling. There is no feeling like it in the world. The time I get to spend with my kids is limited so when I am home I try to be with them and share their daily activities. Seeing the way they change as they are growing up and always needing my support makes me feel that I am doing my job right. The best thing is when you have a rough day or weekend I get to go back home and receive hugs and kisses from them and it makes everything good again. There is nothing more important in my life than my family!

To join the campaign, visit or tweet with the hashtag #thanksdad.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Thankful Campaign: Thankful for the Journey

Today, NFI is launching The Thankful Campaign to celebrate fathers and families. We're asking daddy bloggers, prominent fathers, and everyday dads to share what they're thankful for and how they're raising grateful kids. We're kicking off our campaign with a guest post from Dave Taylor. Dave is a single dad to three kids, based in Boulder, Colorado. Dave blogs about parenting and fatherhood at The Attachment Parenting Blog, and you can find him just about everywhere online. Start here to make your journey easier, though:

This is going to sound weird in this season of Thanksgiving, but I want to share how I am thankful for pretty much everything that's happened in my life, good and bad. I'm a single dad in a world where moms are lionized and us guys are deadbeats or just plain idiots, according to contemporary culture, so I see a lot of the good and bad around us. Am I thankful for that? Well, that's another story, but I will say that it's helpful in that I get a lot of positive feedback about what a great, attentive Dad I am because it's portrayed as atypical.

Look, guys, it's easy to be thankful for good things, but what about the bad? What about those experiences that, yeah, truthfully, it'd be better if you hadn't gone through them? I'm thankful for those, too.

The reason I'm thankful for everything is because I like where I am now in my life. I have a successful business, three great kids who are growing up just fine and who love me -- and whom I love immensely -- and I have the freedom to create a life for us in a way that I wasn't able to do when I was married or prior to my marriage (when I didn't have kids, for one thing).

I don't know if this is some sort of Zen thing or what, but we are all the product of our journeys and none of us would be exactly who we are today if we hadn't experienced everything in our lives, both good and bad. Life is about trade offs, after all. I had a difficult marriage that was more characterized by disagreement and unsatisfying interaction than warm fuzzies, but I got three amazing children out of the experience, in a way that was completely transformative for me as a man, so I will forever be thankful for my ex and our continued mostly smooth co-parenting efforts to raise three fun, happy, productive members of society.

Not too many people know this, but as a kid I was pretty darn shy and didn't go to my senior prom because I was too gawky and clueless to ask a girl to the dance. Am I thankful for that? Yes, because it gave me the motivation to become an outgoing extrovert when I got to college, and that was a great experience that really set me on the path I'm on now, with tons of friends, a vast social circle, and party invites every weekend.

Here's another thing I'm thankful for too: computers and social networks. Yes, if it wasn't for Twitter and Facebook, the last few years would have been far more difficult, as I found myself sitting around in a barely-furnished townhouse wondering where my domestic life and my kids had gone. Being able to connect with others and make online friends to shoot the breeze with made it much more tolerable and gave me plenty to laugh at and appreciate -- glimmers of light in a long, dark tunnel that I'm also thankful to have finally escaped.

My point with this article is to be thoughtful on this season of thanksgiving about how it's more than our friends and family that we can be thankful for. I am, of course, thankful for my friends and family, but I think that my life is a journey, along which it's my challenge to make the best of it, to find happiness, love, humor, fun, etc., and that it's the sum total of all my experiences along this road that make me who I am. And for that, I'm thankful.

To join the campaign, visit or tweet with the hashtag #thanksdad.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest Post: Bonding With Books

This is a guest post from daddy blogger Chris Singer, a stay-at-home dad in Lansing, MI. You can find him on twitter @tessasdad and at

As a stay-at-home dad to a precocious 19-month-old toddler, I spend a good amount of time during the day fixing and my own screw-ups. Whether it's forgetting to keep doors closed and gates up (especially to the bathroom, or risk finding my toothbrush in the toilet), or it's letting my daughter play with something she probably shouldn't (like the house keys, which can easily end up in my daughter's favorite hiding spot: the garbage can), I swear I've made enough mistakes to get fired from most jobs.

Seriously though, as much as I might screw up during the day, one of the things I've been successful at has been helping my daughter develop a love of books. As a child I loved being read to and really had a passion for books. It's been amazing for me to see Tessa enjoy books so much already at such a young age. Reading books and visiting the library twice a week has become a big part of our daily and weekly routines.

Reading is also an excellent way to bond with your child. I've been reading to Tessa since she was born, and I'm convinced that this has been a key component to the strong bond we have formed. Here are some things I've figured out over time which I think played a huge role in Tessa developing a love for books:

Don't force it - One of the early frustrations I had as a dad was that I really felt it was important to read to Tessa but I could hardly ever get her to sit still for a book. I don't know how I was able to do it, but I never forced her to sit for a story. When she wanted to be done with a book, we were done with that book. At times, we might try another one, but if she wasn't into it, I didn't force the issue.

Small books for small hands - I had all these lists of the best children's books I would take with me to the library. I would sign out three or four at a time and bring them home only to find that Tessa wasn't interested in any of them. I decided to stop taking the list with me and see what books Tessa would grab for herself. She kept going over to the baby board books and picking them off the shelf. At first I thought they were just easier to pull off the shelf until I saw her sitting there and holding the book in her hand and flipping through the pages. At home Tessa does the same thing and will pick up books and flip through them. We've even given her the small board books to keep her busy in the car and they've worked like a charm.

Let her ask or tell you she wants to read
- This is similar to my first tip in that I don't make any demands of Tessa when it comes to books. When she's interested in reading I know she'll either bring books over to me or will ask me to read to her. I will occasionally ask her if she wants to read books and she will usually respond by saying yes, but I want her to develop the initiative to read and look at books on her own.

Make reading fun
- When I read books out loud to Tessa, I make up voices for the different characters and try to make the stories fun. I do a pretty good Grover voice actually, so this could be why her favorite book right now is "The Monster At The End of This Book."

Daddy Chris and daughter Tessa reading together

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.