We have exciting plans for 2013 to reach more dads, help more families, and advocate on behalf of responsible fatherhood - with the ultimate goal of improving child well-being and creating a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad ℠. But we need your help.
As we start 2013, will you join our 12 Dollars, 12 Months, 12 Dads challenge?
It costs $12 to provide a dad with one of NFI's evidence-based fatherhood handbooks to help him build his fathering skills. We are looking for 100 people to commit to donate $12 a month to help one dad every month. If we reach that goal, together we will equip 1,200 extra dads in 2013 with resources to help them connect with their children heart-to-heart!
Will you be one of our team of 100 giving $12 a month to help a dad?
For example, $12 gives an incarcerated father an InsideOut Dad™ handbook to help him connect with his child even while behind bars and build a successful reentry plan for when he returns to his family.
Or, $12 gives a dad in a community like yours a 24/7 Dad™ handbook to help him build fathering skills like communicating with his child, working with mom, and understanding the impact of his relationship with his own father.
Each time a dad completes one of NFI's evidence-based, tested and proven programs, a child is more likely to benefit from a dad who is involved, responsible, and committed. You can help make that happen.
Joining the 12 Dollar challenge is an easy but significant way to make a difference in the lives of kids. Plus, all donations are tax deductible!
Will you take the challenge?
Donations represent a gift to the entire mission of NFI. To help the most number of children and families, we use your gifts where they can do the most good by pooling them with the gifts of others. And, because you are helping to change children’s lives, your gift is tax deductible!
Did you know that 25% of Americans access the Internet through their smartphones instead of a computer? That means millions of dads are not accessing National Fatherhood Initiative's web-based resources.
We want to deliver our expert fathering advice directly into dads’ hands through a brand new text messaging campaign, but it will cost $2,750 to create and maintain the new platform.
As a reader of this blog, you know how important it is that children have involved, responsible, and committed fathers. You also know that our resources are making a difference across the nation by helping men learn how to connect with their kids heart-to-heart.
We're looking for 110 people to donate just $25 each by August 12 to help us raise funds needed to create this new tool to reach more dads who currently don’t have access to our information. Not only that, but if you are part of that 25% of who prefers to use your phone instead of the computer, your donation will go towards a resource that you can use too!
Will you be one of the 110? Donate $25 (or more!) today.
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.
One of the first Bible precepts that I learned in Sunday School as a small boy was that it is better to give than to receive. Now, as a little guy, I wasnt a big fan of this concept, especially around my birthday and Christmas. In any case, a few days ago, I was thumbing through a recent copy of Forbes magazine and I came across an article by Michael Norton provocatively titled Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness
If you give it away.
Norton is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and he has been researching how changes in income impact well-being. For example, he recently asked 315 Americans to rank their happiness on a 100 point scale and predict how happy they would be if they made ten different incomes, ranging from $5,000 up to $1,000,000. So, for example, he found that those who made $25,000 a year predicted that their happiness would double if they made $55,000. But when he measured their actual happiness, the change was about 7%. Moreover, he found that once people reached the US median income (about $60,000), the happiness return on additional income was very small.
Ironically, he did discover one way to buy more happiness with your money: Give it away. He hypothesized that although making more money helps us accumulate more material things, it does little to give us what the research shows makes us happierquality relationships with others.
To test his theory, he and his team did a little experiment. They approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money ($5 or $20) and told them that they had to spend the money by the end of the day. But half were instructed to spend the money on themselves while the others were told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Nortons team learned that those who had to spend the money on themselves bought stuff like coffee and food. However, those who had to spend the money on others did things like donate to the homeless or buy a gift for a loved one.
So, who was happier? Yep, those who gave the money away. Interestingly, there was no difference in reported happiness between those who had to give $5 away verses those who gave $20 away. I guess when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.
So, why I am sharing all this? Maybe because its fundraising season and NFI needs you to give to us until you are in a state of joyous glee. Good guess, but nope. (Although, we certainly need the support and you can donate here
. And, no gift is too large. :-))
Well, it is because I vividly recall that one of the early words that each of my kids uttered was mine. I seems that children are genetically wired to be self-focused and its a dads job to model and teach their children the joy that can be received from giving. And, you dont need to wait until Sunday to start teaching. That is, if you can spare $5 bucks.
We're pumped for the upcoming Acumen Solutions Family Fun Run/8k
on October 17th in Arlington, VA. It's the culmination of our six week fit2father campaign
, focusing on healthy fathers and families. And, it's a great opportunity to get involved and meet other individuals who support NFI and our issue.
Race registrations benefit NFI's programs and initiatives - like providing resources to military families and educating new dads. Even if you're not in D.C. or won't be able to make it, you can still register as a "virtual walker" and we'll receive the proceeds.Register today
and select National Fatherhood Initiative. Join our team and help us end father absence! See you on the 17th!
We recently launched the fit2father Campaign and got an overwhelming response! Dads and families across the country have pledged to take part in a six week campaign to improve their fathering skills and to get healthy.
fit2father is based around three key strategies/principles:
- Condition - living an active lifestyle
- Nutrition - making healthy choices
- Connection - connecting fathers and families
Studies show that fathers have a significant impact on the health and well-being of their children
. A fathers body mass index is directly related to a childs activity level. Being fit and being a father go hand in hand.
For our main office and for those in the DC area, the fit2father campaign will culminate in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause
. We are excited for fathers and families to come out and support the fatherhood movement. Not only will this benefit NFI, bit it will help fathers everywhere.
If you have not taken the pledge or are interested in a race in your area visit www.fatherhood.org/fit2father
If you want to become part of the fatherhood movement become a Fatherhood Ambassador today! www.fatherhood.org/ambassadors
August is a busy month - people are cramming in their last vacations and kids are going back to school. Here at NFI, we've got lots going on as well - including some easy (and fun!) ways that you can join our movement to end father absence. Check it out:Walk/Run with Your Family
Bring your family and join the NFI team for the Acumen Solutions One Mile Family Fun Run on October 17 in Arlington, VA. It only costs $25 to register and the registration fee benefits NFI! Learn more/sign up today.
Not in DC, but want to get involved and organize a walk in your area? Fill out this form
and we'll send you info for starting your own local walk.Attend our 24/7 Dad and InsideOut Dad Training
Since 2002, we've trained over 3,000 organizations in all fifty states to provide helpful programs and classes for fathers. On September 15-16, we're hosting our annual training in Germantown, MD (right outside of D.C.).
Check out how you/an organization in your community can get trained and educate dads at www.fatherhood.org/2010training
.Vote for Our Pepsi Refresh Project
We're in the running for $250,000 to support military families, but we can't do it without your votes. Click here to vote today
(and please vote for our alliance partners, too!).
In 1970, the buzz in Hollywood was about the romantic movie Love Story
. The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made stars and household names of the young actors Ryan ONeal and Ali MacGraw. Even if you havent seen the movie or dont have it in your Netflix queue, you have most likely heard the famous line that MacGraws character uttered early in the film: Love means never having to say youre sorry.
Now, I was preteen when I first heard this line and even then it didnt sound quite right. Granted, I didnt know much about relationships and romance but I had done enough wrong to those that I loved to detect a flaw in the logicdespite the poetry of the line. Sadly, I must dispute the words of philosopher William James who once said: Theres nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. Unfortunately, given the power of pop culture and pop psychology, I think that many have embraced this absurd and convenient retort, especially those who have trouble with mea culpa.
I was reminded again of this line a few days ago when I came across a book by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas called: The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationship
. You may be familiar with Chapman from his many books on the five love languages where he asserts that we generally like to receive love in one of five ways: acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical touch. The problem is that we usually give love in the manner that we like to receive it and this may not be the right love language for one that we are seeking to love. In short, its the receiver, not the giver, who determines if an act is loving.
In any case, Chapman and Thomas have developed a similar model for the language of apology. They argue, rather convincingly, that an apology, just like giving love, is not really effective unless its expressed in terms appropriate for the receiver. Below are the languages of apology that they have discovered:
- Expressing regret: Im sorry may be the first words expressed in this apology language but you will need to clearly express what you are sorry for. For example, if you inappropriately spoke harshly to one of your kids and this is their language, you will need to be specific and say, I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice at you.
- Accepting responsibility: This apology begins with the words I was wrong and then explains what was wrong with your behavior. For example, you would say to your spouse that you were wrong for not planning well enough to get home in time to pick up your children from school.
- Making restitution: This apology language is focused on making it right. So, if you forget someones birthday, and this is his or her language, you cant just say that youre sorry. With a person who speaks this language, what they really want to know is Do you still love me? and making restitution helps assure them that you do.
- Genuinely expressing a desire to change your behavior: This apology needs to be linked to a plan to keep the behavior from occurring again. If this is a loved ones apology language, in their world, apologizing without a sincere desire and demonstrated behavior to change is not apologizing at all.
- Requesting forgiveness: For someone who speaks this language, the words Will you please forgive me? are critical. In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask to be forgiven.
I really believe that Chapman and Thomas are on to something here. A love story without apologies only happens in the movies. Indeed, love means always
having to say you are sorry. Ironically, the title of the Love Story
theme song, which won an Academy Award for best musical score, is Where Do I Begin? If you want to restore and/or maintain relationships with your spouse, the mother of your child, or your children, I suggest that you begin with an apology.
A large portion of our work is devoted to supporting military families. Research shows that military children experience many of the same outcomes as kids living in father-absent homes.
You can help us give military families the support they need by voting for our Pepsi Refresh Project! We're in the running for $250,000 to support military families with critical resources to help them stay connected. But, we need your votes to win!To vote:
Click here: http://pep.si/aHtVfT. Vote using Facebook Vote using text message
[text 101739 to Pepsi (73774)]
You can vote up to three times each day throughout August and voting for our project ends August 31st.
Help support our nation's military families by voting today. And don't forget to tell you friends, too!
A few days ago, William Shatner, as part of his new A&E show called Aftermath
, interviewed DC sniper, Lee Malvo. I have spoken and written about Malvo frequently over the years because his situation impacted me in several very personal ways.
First, at the time of the shootings, I had just moved from the Philadelphia area—the City of Brotherly Love—to the DC area. Now, Philly, despite the moniker, was no bastion of safety and security but at least we didn’t have to deal with snipers. I remember well that random activities like walking my dog, getting gas and loading groceries in the car became random acts of courage. It was indeed a very scary time that still haunts me a bit today.
Second, they caught Muhammad and Malvo sleeping at a rest stop in Maryland on Route 70. It turns out that this stop is the next exit up from my wife’s office. She is a family practice doctor in a little town called Myersville. It’s a very isolated and rural place and her office is just a “rock throw” from the highway. There’s a little BP gas station across the street from her office where she often fills her tank. You get the point…I have thanked God often that an alert trucker spotted Muhammad and Malvo’s car that October night.
Finally, I remember well the morning that the news reported Muhammad and Malvo had been caught. What especially caught my attention was that they said that the suspects were a 38 year-old man and a 17 year-old boy. I instinctively looked over at my 17 year-old son and thought: What would it take to turn him into someone who would shoot a woman in the face with no remorse? There’s a fatherhood story in here somewhere.
Sure enough, a few days later, the Washington Post reported that they had found Lee Malvo’s father who had essentially abandoned him years ago. And the rest, tragically, is history.
In any case, what makes the Malvo story “news” now is that a celebrity is interviewing him and that he has suggested that there were supposed to be other snipers involved. That’s fine. But what makes this story important for me is what made it important years ago. Malvo’s story is less about crime than about how crime is connected to father absence.
“He was a kid who was brainwashed. He was a malleable teenager and lacking love in his life," Shatner said. "John Muhammad supplies the love and influences him to become a killer, and he becomes a coldblooded killer at the age of 17.”
Shatner’s statement is on point but it’s incomplete. Malvo had a mom who seemed to care about him but what he didn’t have was a loving father. Indeed, Muhammad did more than “supply” love. He became the father that Malvo longed for much of his young life. Of note, psychiatrist Diane Schetky, who served as an expert witness for the defense at Malvo's 2003 trial, quoted him as saying of Muhammad, “Anything he asked me to do I'd do. He knew I didn't have a father.
He knew my weaknesses and what was missing.”
I often talk about “what was missing” in a child’s life—it’s a hole in a kid’s soul in the shape of his dad. Unfortunately, still today, Malvo shares a potential “weakness” with millions of other kids who are more at-risk to become prey for the many “Muhammads” of this world. However, these guys don’t always come as sniper trainers but rather as gang leaders, pimps and drug dealers who encourage children to sell their bodies and their souls.
It’s worth noting that a disproportionate number of Malvo’s fellow inmates tend to grow up in father absent homes. Despite this fact, we have done too little to address father absence in our nation. Indeed, most of the fatherhood programs that are committed to addressing this issue are grossly underfunded. I know that in NFI’s case, despite that great work that we have been doing to educate and inspire dads and the many testimonials from fathers, mothers and, even kids about the good work we do, it is a daily challenge to raise the needed funds for our important work. But, we press on because the stakes are high and we don’t have a fatherless kid to spare.
I suspect that Shatner’s Aftermath
show will do well. Sadly, it seems that time and again we are more interested in the entertainment of the “aftermath” than what needs to be done beforehand to prevent it.