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.
I’ll never forget the beeps. It’s been five years since first hearing the beeps from inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where my first daughter stayed two weeks due to pre-term labor.
She weighed four pounds, and I was scared to hold her with the wires coming from all directions. But the NICU nurses assured my wife and I that we would do no harm by holding and talking to her. She needed to hear the same two voices she heard throughout pregnancy. She needed to feel our presence in that cold, steel medical room.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of three — live in homes without fathers. Kids need their fathers.
Kids Need Their fathers…For Health
The same “NICU baby” from above recently proclaimed from the back of the car, “I want coffee, like Daddy!” as I ordered my favorite coffee from the Starbucks drive-thru. As I ordered a short cup of water to mimic my coffee, I realized something big — that for good or ill, the choices I make affect my children. As dad goes, so go the children. With Father’s Day in our rearview mirrors, we must be vigilant about impacting our children positively with the choices we make as dads.
Studies show that men who take care of their health with a good diet, regular exercise, and preventive screenings serve as role models for their kids’ health habits and are more likely to be around for all those important moments like graduations, birthdays and weddings. But more than being around, fathers model behavior for their kids, for good or ill.
Kids Need Their Fathers…For Growth
New research reveals that the love of a father is one of the single greatest influences on the personality development of a child. Results from the journal of Personality and Social Psychology Review showed that kids rejected in childhood felt more anxious and insecure as well as hostile and aggressive as adults.
Professor Rohner who conducted the research says, “children who feel unloved tend to become anxious and insecure, and this can make them needy. Anger and resentment can lead to them closing themselves off emotionally in an attempt to protect themselves from further hurt.”
The same is true for all children regardless of race, culture, and gender – the feeling and effects of rejection are universal.
Professor Rohner adds that the “same parts of the brain are activated when people feel rejected as when they suffer physical pain.” He continues, but ‘Unlike physical pain, however, people can psychologically relive the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years.’ His research shows a father’s input is particularly important for behavior and influences whether a child later abuses drugs or suffers mental health problems.
Kids Need Their Fathers…For Life
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that infant mortality rates are almost twice as much for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.
Children whose fathers are stable and involved are better off on almost every cognitive, social and emotional measure developed by researchers.
How we start is usually a good indicator of how we finish. Of course we can make course corrections along the way. But giving kids a chance to start life in a healthy way matters. Involved fathers help infant mortality rates decrease and infant health increase. Being present and involved ensures children will grow and develop into mature, well-adjusted adults.
Dads matter–for good or ill. As dads go, so go the children. And as go children, so goes our society.
That is why National Fatherhood Initiative provides skill-building resources to help fathers increase their health literacy and get involved right from the start. Our Doctor Dad series of workshops help fathers learn about the well child, the sick child, the injured child, and the safe child. And our new Dad’s Pocket Guide contains practical tips on how dads can get involved with their newborns.
Parents, what was your most difficult adjustment after having a baby?
This post was originally written by Ryan Sanders for the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA). NHSA's mission is to be our nation's voice in providing leadership and advocacy for health equity services and interventions that improve birth outcomes and family wellbeing.
Photo credit: Sanders Family Archives
Swimming, barbeque and a day off work…sounds like freedom to me. But, in the excitement of activities, it's easy to forget the history and purpose of Independence Day. I’ll get to some ideas for celebrating, but first, some history so you can sound smart at the family get-together.
John Adams believed July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate the birth of American independence. He would decline invitations to July 4th events in protest (see History). Adams had an argument, because on July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of resolution for independence.
Realizing that once you read “Continental Congress” and “resolution” in the last paragraph that I lost most of you, I have a more history for you history buffs. It was July 2nd that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail and explained that the day, "will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival" and the celebration should have "Pomp and Parade...Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other." Can you say “freedom?”
Two days later on July 4th, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Even though the vote for actual independence was on July 2nd, the 4th became the day celebrated as the birth of American independence. If you’re like me, barbeque is barbeque; I’ll eat it on the 2nd and the 4th to commemorate this special event.
The Fourth of July was originally celebrated with concerts, parades, firing of cannons and speeches. By late 19th century, people started celebrating with outdoor activities, family time, fireworks and barbeques. Considering I kept your attention with all this historical trivia, here are a few ways you can celebrate this holiday with your family:
Independence Day Ideas for Your Family:
1) Teach Your Kids: For older kids, The History Channel has an entire week dedicated to the “Founding Fathers” for learning about the history and celebration of Independence Day.
Consider reading the Declaration of Independence with your teenager. They may complain, but it’s short and only one of the greatest documents ever written. For younger kids, have them draw and color the American flag or sing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner." Perhaps your kids like face paint as much as mine, paint the flag on their cheeks or for girls, paint their nails in red, white and blue (can you tell I have daughters?!).
2) Get Patriotic with Food: Let your kids help you make Independence Day themed food like American Flag Cake and Patriotic Pops.
3) Get Involved with Your Community: It’s a great time to get to know your neighbors. Attend a festival or parade and grill out with friends.
4) Remember the Troops: Write a letter or send a care package to a deployed service member to let them know you appreciate their service.
How are you celebrating Independence Day?
photo credit: *Micky
Before children, I was a morning person. I used to conquer mornings. Back in college, I woke up with unrushed reading time. Remember unrushed reading time?! Once kids happen, unrushed mornings end.
Are you like me? I don’t plan any me-time at home before leaving work in hopes of getting a 45-second-jump on my neighbor. If I can cut my neighbor off at the toll road, I’m sure to get past the Capital Beltway before the traffic congestion really starts.
But my life is about to change. I found Laura Vanderkam’s article in Fast Company. I am now motivated more than ever to be a morning person because it seems mornings are when successful people get things done.
Actually, mornings for parents may be the only time to get anything done. Be careful about reading this article by Vanderkam. After you read, you can’t complain you don’t have enough “me time.” The short answer is -- wake up earlier! If you’re game for waking up earlier, keep reading this post for motivation and how to amp up your morning routine.
Parents, follow these steps from Vanderkam and you’ll get more done in the morning, before the kids wake up:
Step 1. Track Your Morning
Laura points out that you’re more likely to spend your time better when you know how you’re spending it. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can. Use Laura’s spreadsheet (yes, she has a time management spreadsheet!) or write things down.
Try this for a week. See how you're spending your time. So, you’re too tired and can’t wake up earlier, but you're only tired because you stayed up that extra few minutes watching The Colbert Report. Laura’s genius idea? DVR The Colbert Report and watch it at 5:30am while running on the treadmill. Whoa, I never thought about that. Mind, blown. Next step…
Step 2. Picture Your Perfect Morning
Once you see how you’re spending your mornings, take time to dream about your perfect morning. Would it start with a run? Actually eating real food for breakfast? Think about exactly how you would like to spend your morning and then move to step 3.
Step 3. Map Out Your Dream Morning
Actually write down what you want your new morning to look like and how you’re going to make it happen. Heck, write down the exact time while you’re at it. What time are you going to wake up? Yes, Laura goes here: write down the time you should go to bed. You know how much sleep you need. Ouch, okay, you’re almost to the morning of your dreams. Continue to step 4.
Step 4. Make the Dream Happen
If you want your dream morning, you’ll need discipline. Laura has some great ideas on how to make this happen:
- Take baby steps: Start with getting in bed just a few minutes earlier. And don’t try to create EVERYTHING in your dream morning at one time. Work on one thing at a time. Actually waking up earlier is probably the best place to start.
- Reward yourself. You have your goals and you’ve created baby steps. Be sure to celebrate small victories. This will keep you motivated.
Step 5. Remember, Your Dream Morning is a Process
Okay, so you have kids. Life will happen in your house. Remember this whole deal is a process. Processes CAN change and be revamped. The best part about this is the idea that you can feel like your mornings are yours, not just death marches to your job! I know no one reading this has ever felt like his or her mornings are death marches. But you know what I’m saying.
You may never know how much you can get done or your full potential until you have time to stop and think for yourself. Remember to come back and tell us how things are going, what you’re working on, and what’s not working. Just remember, if you hate or love this idea and want to read more, the idea was Laura’s.
Dads, whether you want to conquer your mornings or not, try our series of 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad for great ideas on becoming a better dad.
Now, what are you going to do with your perfect morning?
photo credit: Wade Brooks
Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse a week ago. Despite the verdict, important questions should continue to be asked. Why didn’t the assistant football coaches do something? Why didn’t the school administration do something? But the biggest, most pointed question is, “How in the world was Sandusky able to prey on so many young boys for so long?”
From our perspective, Sandusky would not have been able to do what he did had he not had access to so many boys growing up in father-absent homes.
Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Inquirer brings up this point in her column, Sandusky case underscores importance of fathers. She asks, "What if so many of Sandusky's victims hadn't needed father figures in the first place?" She answers her own question: “This never would've happened.”
Sandusky intentionally surrounded himself with children from homes that didn’t have involved fathers by starting a foundation, The Second Mile, dedicated to helping boys from “disadvantaged” homes.
Polanecksky writes, “I'd bet my own dad's hypertension meds that Sandusky never would've groomed those Second Milers for sex had the children had active fathers whose wrath Sandusky might've feared.”
Of Sandusky's known victims, six had no father in their lives and three admitted to never having known their dads. On the witness stand, many of the boys said they thought of Sandusky as the father they'd never had.
One boy said, he (Sandusky) "treated me like a son in front of other people.” Another victim testified, "I looked at Jerry as kind of a father figure...I didn't want to lose somebody actually paying attention to me."
NFI understands children have an innate need for their fathers’ affirmation and attention. “Children have a hole in their soul the shape of their fathers,” says NFI President Roland Warren. And we know from decades of research that fathers matter. Whether a father is in the home and involved or not changes just about everything – for good or ill.
Sadly, folks like Sandusky know this and prey on children with absent fathers. Like drug dealers or gang leaders, they exploit what they recognize as a weakness or vulnerability in a child craving adult male attention.
To note, this is what DC sniper Lee Malvo said about how John Muhammad caught him up in his web: “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.”
We also know through social science research that children from father-absent homes are far more likely to suffer physical and sexual abuse than those growing up in two-parent families.
Economics will not fix this problem. Needy children exist in wealthy homes, too. Only a society willing to educate and train up a generation on the importance of fatherhood can change this problem.
In other words, we need to get to the root by asking the most-pointed question more often: “Why were these kid’s victimized?” More often than not, the answer is going to be because their fathers weren’t there to protect them physically and emotionally.
Father's Day is over. June is on its way out the door.
But NFI made a promise, we are holding to our promise of "Celebrating Father's Month."
This is our last video interview and the last is ceratianly not least. In fact, we saved our very own NFI President for last.
Remember what this campaign was about - we at NFI think dad deserves more than one day. We featured dads throughout the month, simply as a reminder to celebrate the dads in our lives.
Today, meet Roland Warren, NFI President and Chief Dad.
Roland has two sons, ages 27 and 29. Watch Roland talk about the lamest gift he ever gave his dad, why clothes are so important for fathers (yes, clothes) and what he's most looking forward to at this stage of fatherhood (watch out Warren men!).
When you see Roland talk fatherhood, be inspired to celebrate the dad in your life today.
For tips and tools on how to connect fathers with kids during this month and beyond, sign up for our Dad Email.
Meet the rest of the NFI Dads who are Celebrating Fathers Month.
Father's Day may be over, but NFI is still "Celebrating Father's Month" because we think dad deserves more than one day! As you probably expected, NFI has a lot of dads on the team.
We're featuring dads as a reminder throughout the month -- to celebrate your dad more than one day. Today, meet Vince DiCaro, NFI Development and Communications.
Vince has a son who's a toddler. Watch Vince recall stories of the lamest gift he's ever given his dad, little league baseball and one thing his dad is always saying.
When you hear Vince's stories, be inspired to celebrate the dad in your life today.
For tips and tools on how to connect fathers with kids during this month and beyond, sign up for our Dad Email.
Meet the rest of the NFI Dads who are Celebrating Father's Month.
I recently attended the 10th annual Cause Marketing Forum (CMF) conference in Chicago to learn about how non-profits and corporate brands can support important causes together. During the conference keynote, musician Kenna made a special appearance to share about Summit on the Summit – a campaign he created raising awareness and funds to provide clean drinking water by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Working at NFI has given me “fatherhood glasses” and what stuck out to me from Kenna’s story was that it was his dad who inspired him to create this campaign.
Kenna is an Ethiopian-born American musician. He told the audience at CMF that he attempted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to celebrate his second album but could not finish due to a reaction to anti-altitude medication.
When his dad asked him why he wanted to climb the mountain, Kenna replied that he felt like he hadn’t reached his life’s mountain yet. His dad reminded him that he had been born at 19,000 feet altitude and perhaps he didn’t need the anti-altitude medication. “You were made to climb that mountain, Kenna,” his dad said. “Maybe you have added something artificial to your life, like the medication, that is keeping you from reaching your life’s mountain.”
Kenna’s dad told him he wanted to dig a well in his native country, Ethiopia, to provide clean drinking water. Though he was born in Ethiopia, Kenna grew up in the United States and he took clean drinking water for granted.
Then, he learned that his dad had almost died from a waterborne disease that left him in great pain through his teen years. This disease killed many others in his community. Around the world, over one billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water.
Kenna says his father’s experience with this global crisis made him realize his dad did not come to America and provide a good life for his family just so his son could walk a red carpet and be famous. His father’s story and his close relationship with his dad motivated Kenna to help his dad fulfill his dream of providing clean drinking water to his native community and others in need around the world.
Kenna created Summit on the Summit to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a team of celebrities (including Lupe Fiasco, Emile Hersch, and Jessica Biel), humanitarian workers, corporate brands like HP, and the United Nations.
The extreme nature of their effort was intended to raise awareness of the extreme need for clean water. Watch a video about this project here.
The campaign was successful! Months later, Kenna returned to Ethiopia, which includes some of the driest parts of the earth, to dig a well 50 yards from where his father had contracted a waterborne illness years before. Kenna continues to campaign for access to clean drinking water even though his climb is done.
Kenna says, “Everything I wanted to accomplish as an artist I had done. I wanted to do something that would impact the world, but I never thought I’d do that by impacting my own family. It’s been the most meaningful existence.”
At NFI, we say “fathers change the world one child at a time.” In this case, Kenna’s father truly made an impact on the world. His relationship with his son motivated his son to devote himself to a cause close to his father.
While your children may not have the celebrity status Kenna was able to leverage for an important cause, you are making a difference everyday by shaping what your children care about and value. You never know what they will be motivated to do because you invested in their life.
How have you been inspired by your dad?
Our 2012 Military Fatherhood Award recipient had a big day yesterday!
First Lt. William Edwards enjoyed an extra-special lunch yesterday with President Obama (Photo: ObamaFoodorama).
Edwards was then honored at The White House where NFI's President Roland Warren presented Lt. Edwards with his 2012 Military Fatherhood Award. Warren presented the award to Edwards at The White House "Champions of Change" event.
The USA Today reports, Obama salutes Father's Day with military lunch to honor Father's Day and the military.
Obama lunched with two serviceman and a pair of local barbers involved in the administration's campaign to promote better fatherhood.
"These guys are also young fathers, and they're doing great," Obama said during the lunch at the BBQ smokehouse in northeast Washington.
Obama said: "It turns out that with the father being involved, the kids are less likely to do drugs ... girls are less likely to get pregnant. And so that message is something that we want to make sure gets out there."
Watch video of the lunch here:
President Obama does well to point out that involved fathers matter. Absent fathers change everything. From incarceration and crime to teen pregnancy and childhood obesity (See Statistics on Father Absence).
Edwards is an example of an involved father. Lt. William (Bill) Edwards of the U.S. Army is the 2012 Military Fatherhood Award Winner.
Edwards is based at Fort Jackson in South Carolina where he lives with his wife of 13 years, Esther, and their four children. Lt. Edwards uses his musical and cinematic talents to stay connected with his four children before, during, and afterhis deployments. He was deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division Band in 2007-2008 for 14 months in Iraq.
Click here for more information on NFI's Fatherhood Award.