This post is from Cheryl Tallman, co-founder of Fresh Baby. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.
Homemade foods have always been healthier than processed, prepared, or restaurant meals which are generally much higher in fat, salt and calories than home-cooked foods. Eating too much of these unhealthy foods can pack on the Holiday pounds and slow your kids down at school.
But let’s face it, the days leading up to the holidays are hectic.
Getting a home-cooked dinner on the table during the holidays may seem to be an impossible feat, but here are few tips to ease the burden of getting dinner on the table during the hectic holiday season:
1) Get friends involved. The holidays are a great time to entertain with friends. Make dinner at home a reason to get together. Team up with a friend and have a family dinner at their house one night and switch to your house on another. Divide the menu between families and have each family bring a dish. [Like this idea? Share it on twitter by clicking HERE!]
2) Get the kids in the kitchen. The Holidays are a great time to make family memories. Get closer to your kids. Invite them into the kitchen and teach them a few things about cooking. It’s a life skill that they will certainly thank you for some day. Some of the meals you make together can become family traditions for Holidays to come!
3) Get a slow cooker. This is a fabulous machine for busy families on-the-go. A slow cooker allows you to make simple, one-dish meals in a snap. Simply prep the ingredients in the morning, turn the slow cooker on and come home to a delicious ready-to- eat dinner.
4) Stop and freeze. Make foods in advance and freeze them in family sizes and individual servings too. Have some fun and cook with a friend, double each other’s recipes, and split up the meals for both families.
5) Get pre-washed when possible. The clean and prep is often the most time consuming part of cooking. Buy pre-washed veggies in the produce section of stores. The “open and steam” convenience of these pre-washed products is great.
6) Get “no cook” sides. Apples, pears, avocadoes, tomatoes are just few foods that don’t need to be cooked and taste great all by themselves. A fruit or veggie plate makes a terrific side dish.
7) Plan for leftovers. Don’t spend all your time in the kitchen cooking just one big feast. Make enough food to make several “leftover meals”.
Get more tips for the holidays at our For Fathers section. Happy cooking…and Happy Holidays!
Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning "So Easy Baby Food Kit," and author of the "So Easy Baby Food" and the new book "So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years." Visit Cheryl at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @FreshBabyBiz.
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Words like empowerment and inclusion get thrown around a lot today. But do we really know what they mean? Do these principles in fact have any intrinsic value, or are they just the flavors of the week?
The problem with attributing value to ambiguous concepts like “empowerment” (which Daniel Pink defines as “a slightly more civilized form of control”) is that when you run into conflicts, there is no real standard by which to resolve those conflicts. This post-modern dilemma is playing itself out in a big, public way over at Time Warner, where CNN (a Time Warner company) journalist Joshua Levs has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge against his employer.
Joshua and his wife just welcomed their third child into the world, and when he went to his employer seeking the 10 weeks of paid leave that new parents get, he found out that all new parents except biological fathers are entitled to this time off. You read that right – every kind of new parent working for Time Warner is entitled to 10 weeks of paid leave, except biological fathers. Adoptive mothers and fathers, biological mothers, and all mothers and fathers whose children were born through surrogacy; they all get 10 weeks of paid leave. But if you are in Joshua’s shoes, where his own wife gave birth to his own child, he only gets two weeks.
Time Warner, in its efforts to be “inclusive,” and to “empower” new parents with a policy of “equality” has created a situation that exposes a much more serious problem – it is completely unfair. Moreover, in Joshua’s view, given his EEOC charge, it is discriminatory.
While we at NFI do not know all of the legal details about the EEOC charge, we can say that we agree with Joshua Levs. His company is clearly treating him unfairly. And from a broader “fatherhood perspective,” Time Warner’s actions are symptomatic of much a deeper cultural issue that has been plaguing our culture for decades, the devaluing of fatherhood and marriage.
It seems every group has a movement or a program behind it, except married, biological fathers. Guys like me, who have sacrificed much to get and stay married to the mothers of our children, seem to be the ones who get the least support in the public square. We are the “suckers” who seemingly made the mistake of setting aside our own interests by going home every night to our wife and children so that we can be there for them for life.
We hear it all the time at NFI, but one of the most common refrains I hear is that “you don’t have to be married to your children’s mother to be a good dad!” Well, sure; most of our community-based programs help unmarried fathers connect to their kids. But the reason every civilization across all of world history has created the institution of marriage is because it enables men to be the best dads they can be. Since when are we so comfortable with settling for second best when it comes to our children? Have we lowered our standards that much?
As for Mr. Levs’ situation, one can’t help but be befuddled by the hubris of Time Warner to create and then enforce such a policy. In Mr. Levs’ own words, in his public statement about the situation, he said, “The company gave no explanation in rejecting my request last week, saying only that it was ‘unable’ to grant it. That’s obviously false. Time Warner is able to, but chose not to. The moment it did that, this issue stopped being a possible oversight that the company could have resolved quietly. It became an active, deliberate decision to discriminate.”
I am at a loss to figure out why Time Warner would do this, other than to go back to our mass cultural confusion, where we value too many other things more highly than the importance of father involvement.
But that only explains part of it. Other fathers at Time Warner are not getting the same lousy treatment as Joshua. So, could something more sinister be at work here?
For one thing, Time Warner’s policy is not actually about child well being. In Joshua’s statement, he mentions that certain forms of discrimination are legal because they are directed at groups that are not “protected classes.” Apparently, children are not a protected class, because if improving child well being was the purpose of Time Warner’s policies, they would extend the most generous policies, or at least the same ones, to the types of parents who are most likely to have children -- biological parents. Despite “advances,” the vast majority of children are still brought into the world as a result of a man and woman having sex with each other. So, Time Warner’s “inclusive” policy only touches a small minority of new parents.
Furthermore, as I mentioned above, our culture has gone out of its way to devalue married fatherhood for decades. Time Warner’s actions sound like yet another attempt to move our culture away from tradition and towards some new way of doing things. I am not sure what that “new way” is, but decades of social science research indicate that it is probably a bad idea, because children living with their two, married, biological parents do better across every measure of child well being than children in any other family structure. Shouldn’t that, therefore, be the structure that we encourage and promote? Wouldn’t that be fair to our nation’s children?
But there is the problem! It is not fairness we actually care about. We care more about ethereal concepts like “inclusion” and “empowerment,” which change with our culture’s whims. It is not even child well being we really care about; it is making sure “protected classes” are kept happy.
We at NFI hope Joshua Levs, and all of the biological fathers at Time Warner, get what is coming to them, which is simply what every other type of parent gets. And, furthermore, we are hopeful that Joshua’s actions resonate throughout our culture so that fathers all over the country get the same truly fair treatment they deserve, and more importantly, that their children deserve.
The good news is that much of the response to Mr. Levs’ charge has been positive. You can help the cause simply by making supportive comments right here on this blog, on NFI’s Facebook page, or by visiting Mr. Levs’ Facebook or Twitter page and voicing your support for him.
NFI Fatherhood Skill-building Materials Being Distributed to New Parent Support Programs on 69 Army Installations
Germantown, MD (PRWEB) November 12, 2013
National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has contracted with the U.S. Army to place its fatherhood resources on installations worldwide to support the Army’s New Parent Support Programs.
Over 117,000 fatherhood skill-building resources – including guides, brochures, tip cards, CD-ROMs, and more – are being distributed to 69 installations around the globe. This is the second “refill” of NFI resources that the Army has ordered; the initial set of materials was delivered by NFI in the fall of 2011, and the first refill was completed in the fall of 2012.
Working with the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM), NFI continues to support the Army’s efforts to strengthen fatherhood and increase family resilience among Army families. Specifically, NFI’s programming is supporting the New Parent Support Program in its efforts to “help Soldiers and Family members who are expecting a child, or have a child or children up to 3 years of age, to build strong, healthy military families.” NFI’s programming is integrated into parenting classes and home visiting programs, and NFI fatherhood resource kiosks are displayed around the bases for easy access to the materials.
Examples of NFI materials the Army is making available for fathers and families is general parenting information contained in resources such as Dad’s Pocket Guide™, New Dad’s Pocket Guide™, Pocketbook for Moms™, and Pocketbook for New Moms™.
NFI is also providing the Army with military-specific materials such as the Deployed Fathers and Families Guide™, which helps military dads prepare for, endure, and return successfully from deployment.
At a time when thousands of military fathers are returning from long overseas deployments, it is critical that our nation’s military fathers receive the education and inspiration they need to embrace their roles as fathers and to build their relationship and parenting skills.
Tim Red, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, father, and NFI’s Senior Program Support Consultant for the Military, said, “Building the skills and confidence of our nation’s military dads is a key ingredient in building resilience in military families. NFI is proud to support the Army’s critical efforts to strengthen military families.”
Since launching its Deployed Fathers and Families program in 2001, National Fatherhood Initiative has become the nation’s leading provider of fatherhood-specific resources to the U.S. Military. NFI has delivered over 760,000 resources to all five branches of the military on bases all over the world, and has been listed on Military OneSource, the Department of Defense’s support service for military families.
As the premier fatherhood renewal organization in the country, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), founded in 1994, works in every sector and at every level of society to engage fathers in the lives of their children. NFI is the #1 provider of fatherhood resources in the nation. Since 2004, through FatherSOURCE, its national resource center, NFI has distributed over 6.5 million resources, and has trained over 13,300 practitioners from over 6,100 organizations on how to deliver programming to dads. NFI is also the most quoted authority on fatherhood in America. Since 2009, NFI has been mentioned in over 3,400 news stories, and makes regular appearances in national media to discuss the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.
"24 million children in America grow up without their father at home."
—United States Census Bureau
There is a crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America—one out of three—live without their biological father in the home.
Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal issues facing America today.
Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is...
1) Four Times More Likely to Live in Poverty
2) More Likely to Have Behavorial Problems
- Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. (U.S. Census Bureau) <Tweet this>
3) Two Times Greater Risk of Infant Mortality
- Children of single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers. (Journal of Marriage and Family)
4) More Likely to go to Prison
- Infant mortality rates are nearly two times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers. (National Center for Health Statistics)
5) More Likely to Commit Crime
- One in five prison inmates had a father in prison. (Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs) <Tweet this>
6) Seven Times More Likely to Become Pregnant as a Teen
- Study of juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. (Journal of Youth and Adolescence)
7) More Likely to Face Abuse and Neglect
- Teens without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent. (Child Development Journal)
8) More Likely to Abuse Drugs and Alcohol
- Compared to children living with married biological parents, those whose single parent had a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse adn more than 6 times the rate of neglect. (Child's Bureau)
9) Two Times More Likely to Suffer Obesity
- Youth are more at risk of first substance use without a highly involved father. (Social Science Research)
- Adolescents whose fathers were drug abusers revealed that paternal smoking and drug use lead to strained father-child relationships. This weakened relationship led to greater adolescent maladjustment with family and friends and a higher risk for adolescent drug use and smoking. Fathers who smoke cigarettes were less likely to enforce antismoking rules for their children and had weaker bonds in terms of adolescent admiration and emulation. (Pediatrics)
10) Two Times More Likely to Drop Out of High School
- Obese children are more likely to live in father-absent homes than are non-obese children. (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth)
- Students living in father-absent homes are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school. (U.S. Department of Education)
- Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of their children getting mostly A's. (U.S. Department of Education)
- In the typical elementary school classroom of 20 students, 7 of them—over 33 percent—are growing up without their biological father in the home. (U.S. Census Bureau) <Tweet this>
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Visit www.fatherhood.org to learn how to be a great dad and support NFI’s work to connect fathers to children.
We're excited to partner with the fine folks over at What To Expect, the experts on all things mom and pregnancy. We are conducting a survey about pregnancy and baby's first year. We've heard from the moms, now we want to hear from the dads!
If you're a new dad or dad-to-be, please take a moment to respond to a few questions. All of the opinions will be revealed soon in brand new infographic in partnership with the wonderful folks over at What to Expect. Don't worry, dads, we won't use names or faces for with your honest answers!
Questions on the survey range from number of children to asking about thoughts to questions like—well—we can't say too much or we'll mess up the survey. Just go take it, please!
Now that I am going to become a new dad for the second time, I have been reflecting a little bit more on what it means to be a good dad. I have this feeling that when you have more than one child, then you are really a dad… As if just having one doesn't count yet.
So, I have been readin’ up on some new dad skills that I will have to re-employ come April (it’s been 3 years since my first son was an infant!), and I found some very helpful guidelines about crying. No, not my crying, the baby’s crying. Hey, that gives me an idea – I should write a guide about how to stop parents from crying during the toddler years.
Anyway, have you ever heard of PURPLE crying? I hadn’t until I cracked open, once again, one of NFI’s Doctor Dad® fathering handbooks. PURPLE is a nice acronym to help you understand the types and times of non-stop crying in infants – the kind that is most frustrating and difficult for parents to deal with.
P – Peak pattern (crying peaks at around 2 months, then lessens)
U – Unpredictable (crying for long periods can come and go for no reason)
R – Resistant to soothing (the baby may keep crying for long periods)
P – Pain-like look on face
L – Long bouts of crying (crying can go on for hours)
E – Evening crying (baby cries more in the afternoon and evening)*
Then, of course, there is just routine crying, like when baby is hungry.
So, how to respond to all these kinds of crying!? First and foremost, babies cry because they need something. Sounds simple, but in the heat of the moment, it is easy to think your baby is crying for no reason, or worse, just to personally annoy you! But once you accept that there is an actual reason for the crying, you can proceed productively.
Enter the “Crying Baby Flowchart”!
This incredibly helpful diagram takes you through a step-by-step process to determine why your baby is crying and how you can help stop the crying. It comes complete with illustrations and clear instructions to make your new dad life much easier.
Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that you should never shake a baby for any reason. If things are getting way too frustrating, and no one else is around to come in for relief, make sure your baby is safe and then just walk away. Go in the next room. Sit down. Have a cold drink. Your baby is not going anywhere. When your blood pressure has come down a bit, head back in and give things another shot.
So, do you have any great ideas on how to stop a baby from crying? What worked best for you?
*Learn more about the PURPLE crying program from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome
My wife and I are expecting our second child in April! Woo hoo! But…
Yes, there is a “but.” For some reason, I am more nervous about child #2 than I was about the first, who is almost 4 years old. Maybe it was the sheer excitement and novelty of a first child that overshadowed any fears or anxiety I may have had. I knew everyone would be stepping in to help. But now that my wife and I are “old hands” at this parenting thing, we won’t need any help with the second child, right?
Part of my anxiety about the coming baby could also stem from the fact that our first son, God bless him, was a VERY difficult baby. He cried all the time. He always had ear infections. He didn’t poop regularly. The list goes on.
We love our son to death. He is a wonderful, funny, beautiful child. But he was a pain in the neck. And he still is VERY emotional.
So, as April approaches, I am selfishly hoping for an “easy” baby. I know this wish will come back to haunt me. I am going to have the most difficult child ever. Therefore, it is best that I am prepared, and I understand baby “styles.”
So, I cracked open a copy of NFI’s Doctor Dad™ Well Child Father’s Handbook, and turned to the page on “Temperament (Style).”
Here is what I learned.
It is important to know your baby’s temperament, because it is often a blueprint for what their personality will be for their whole life. I have seen this with our first son – he is very much the same child he was from day 1, just a more mature version.
Knowing your child’s style will help you temper your expectations and avoid getting frustrated by their behavior. If you know you have a difficult child, when they act difficult it is a little easier to swallow. If you have an easy-going child and he is acting up, it could be an indication that he is getting sick, for example.
So, here are the three main “styles” of babies:
The Easy Child
- This child can easily handle change, in both people and places.
- This child is biological regular. He eats, pees, and poops on a regular schedule and without much fuss.
- This child’s intensity level is mostly moderate. She doesn't need much to entertain or comfort her.
The Difficult Child
The “Slow to Warm Up” Child
- This child is the reverse of the easy baby. This child is “strong willed.”
- This child finds change difficult and is biologically irregular. She eat, drinks, sleeps, pees, and poops whenever she does or doesn’t want to.
- This child is shy and is slow to warm up and adapt to change.
- This child usually cries when faced with change, but the intensity is low and you can calm this child.
My first son was indeed the difficult baby. Can the stork please deliver an easy one in April?
What style was your baby? Do you have any advice on handling difficult babies? Please share!
Each year, we let you pick the "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year". While it's important to point out when culture & media are doing damage to fatherhood through bad depictions of fathers, it is even more important to shine a light on the brands who “get it.”
The following five commercials represent what is “right” about how the culture & the media can build up fatherhood and help us in our work to ensure every child has a 24/7 Dad™.
You voted for your favorite video from the following brands (keep reading for winner!):
Dove Men Care > "Mission: Care"
Watch as John's family reunite just outside of his U.S. military base. John is one of 300 service men to travel home thanks to the Operation Homefront and Dove Men+Care's "Mission: Care" Campaign.
Craftsman > "Made to Make"
"Surrounding you lies earth, wire, wood, glass, steal, brick and stone, just waiting to be made great. Go ahead and make something of it and inspire the rest of us. We are and always will be…made to make.”
Chevy Trucks > "Strong"
“Everybody knows he ain’t just tough, he’s strong.” Watch the video and see why we fell in love with the commercial.
Tide > "The Princess Dress"
You know that outfit your son or daughter just can't live without? Well this dad has a trick up his sleeve so he can wash his daughter's favorite princess dress. Dads, take note!
And the video with the most votes, and winning NFI's "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year" is...
Extra Gum > "Origami"
Watch this video in a safe place—it will make you cry!
Thank you for voting and congratulations to Extra Gum for winning NFI's "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year". Thank you, Extra Gum, for being a brand who understands the unique and irreplacable role a father plays in a child's life. Thank you for reminding us that fatherhood changes everything.
This post is from Torrey Maldonado. Torrey is a teacher and author with a passion for Young Adult & Middle Grade literature. His debut novel is based on his and his students’ struggles with masculinity, their dads, and has inspired Fatherhood series by bloggers, book clubs and in schools. Visit him online at TorreyMaldonado.com. Follow Torrey on Twitter @torreymaldonado. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.
My upbringing was similar to my dad’s.
As boys and tweens, we both were drowning, socially, academically—you name it. We both were on-course to becoming our dads. We both didn’t want that, but felt it was inevitable.
My father became his dad. I didn’t.
Today, I’m different than them, and my father told me before he died that he was proud of who I became.
Throughout my life, my father regularly disappeared. He routinely “disappeared” into jail. When he returned, he lived with us but “disappeared” into the streets, returned and “disappeared” into his bedroom. From daycare to my first gray hair, he consistently “disappeared” from doing fatherly things with my sisters and me.
One song reminds me of him: Poppa was a Rolling Stone. He also was what people call a “hard rock”, usually tough-as-nails. Those are two more prominent memories of him: he either wasn’t around enough or came on too strong.
I’m describing my father, his father, and a lot of my friends’ fathers. If we toured my old neighborhood, you’d see the number of dads who “disappear” and who are “hard rocks” is so huge that if they sat on each other’s shoulders, a guy-ladder would tower into space.
Is this way of being guys’ faults? Across the U.S. a stereotype of macho manliness is celebrated that puts down guys as effeminate if they’re open and affectionate. It’s not a current phenomenon; in 1963 Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons had a hit, Walk Like a Man. That song made “hard rock” manliness as stylish as it is today. Before that, music and other media stylized macho-manliness—cowboys in black-and-white movies, knights in fairy tales, and so on. For maybe centuries now, men have embraced a popularized masculinity while leaving women to be emotional caregivers.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects. A timeless rule there and in other tough neighborhoods is that the strong survive. Being a “hard rock” and projecting strength isn’t just stylish—it’s a survival tactic. In the 1980s, males felt they needed hard bravados as a flood of drug-activity made Life magazine call us “The Crack Capital of America.” Our neighborhood still has a major drug problem, which means males still need to project strength to avoid surrounding violence.
On one hand, the ethos “Walk Like a Man” helps guys survive; on the other hand, that prompts us to shelve being emotional caregivers. That motto helps continue what I call “The Boy Crisis” (the widespread retarding of male development—socially, academically, and professionally—by discouraging males from being affectionate and showing all sides of ourselves).
I survived "The Boy Crisis"; my father didn’t.
My dad didn’t marry women he impregnated; I married one woman, then we planned our parenthood.
My father disappeared—physically and emotionally—on his children; I have one child for whom I am very present.
My dad was a “hard rock” 24/7; I work hard to show my daughter my soft-side, scared-side, and all-sides.
I love my father despite the conscious and unconscious hurt that came from his absence and stoniness. His few good sides show in things I do.
One factor that helped me steer in a different direction was “Uncles.”
My mom introduced me to men who weren’t blood-related, but helped me weather storms of limiting messages about manhood.
These “Uncles” were unlike my dad.
They didn’t disappear. They let me sit with them for as long as I wanted, and I did—sometimes just to watch them interact with each other and the world.
On the corner, my Puerto Rican Uncle Danny had only four fingers on one hand from a Vietnam-injury. He had the strongest handshake and the gentlest heart. (My mom hoped I would pick up his gentleness.)
At a local garage, my African American Uncles—Archie and Joe—modeled routines, wearing their work-uniforms even afterhours. (My mom hoped I would embrace their solid work ethic).
At the cleaners, my mobster-sounding Italian Uncle Carmine described females with complete respect (My mom hoped I would absorb his pro-feminism.).
These “Uncles” were different from each other, yet similar.
They shared a common belief about fathering: Dads shouldn’t withdraw from their children, even if they leave their child’s mother. They said to admire males on TV or from the street, but to ultimately be you. They gave me “change”—probably fifty cents one day, one dollar another—but, wow, the comics, candies, and things I bought!
It all added up. Despite my dad disappearing, my community in crisis, and societal pressures to conform, each man gave me more than “change”—they gave me safe spaces and guidance for me to change.
They presented different sides of manhood and added the best of themselves to the best my father could model and I eventually created a mosaic of masculinity from their examples. These “Uncles” helped me transform from an academically and socially drowning boy to becoming a celebrated teacher, a published novelist, and a present husband and father.
As a boy, I once told my mom that I wanted to be like my uncles—all of them—White, Black, and Latino. She said I could. I wondered how.
In time, I learned a man doesn’t have to be one-sided. That idea drives my fathering and threads through my novel, Secret Saturdays. That idea is what made my upbringing similar to my father’s, but not my outcome. Our boys could benefit from fathers but if their dads disappear or model what ultimately stifles their growth, then positive “Uncles” are a great tool to ensure boys become men and fathers with many good sides to show.
The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.
Trying to have your first child or another one? Think twice before you eat that juicy bacon cheeseburger.
Recent research reveals that what men eat affects their ability to conceive.
Researchers found that men with higher levels of saturated fat had a lower concentration of sperm and lower total sperm count in their semen.
The more saturated fat in the diet, the lower the concentration and count. A higher intake of saturated fat can lead to obesity, which can also lower sperm count.
Want a beer with that burger? Think about that one, too. Alcohol use has been linked to lower sperm count. Not the occasional beer, glass of wine, or cocktail, but regular consumption (e.g., daily).
Want to know what else affects the little guys? Check out these 10 proven "sperm killers".
Most of the posts in our blog focus on tips and advice on how to be a great dad. But what if you never get the chance to apply this guidance? What if you never get the chance to become a father?