It seems that strong women beget strong women. However, research also shows that involved fathers beget strong women. Let me explain...
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has made headlines recently by imploring today’s working women to “lean in” to their careers in order to reach their full professional potential.
According to a CBS News story, “If there's one message she wants women to hear it's to aim high -- seek challenges and take risks -- and fight the instinct to hold back.”
Much of the response to Sandberg’s idea has focused on whether or not women should try to act more like men, whether it is appropriate for women to “lean in” as much as Sandberg thinks they should, what the future of work-life balance policy is, etc.
I am not going to get into that debate. Rather, I think it is critical that we are honest about the characteristics that many successful women tend to share – they grew up with involved dads.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that strong women beget strong women. I don’t doubt that that is true… to a degree. But what research has shown consistently is that involved fathers beget strong women.
- Children who have involved fathers expressed emotions in non-traditional gender patterns. Girls express more aggression, competition, and less intense fear and sadness whereas boys expressed more warmth and fear as well as less aggression. Also, 3 to-5-year-old children with highly involved fathers had less traditional views of future employment possibilities when they became adolescents than did their peers whose fathers were more aloof.
- A study of 302 adolescent girls showed that those who feel connected with their biological father but have little contact are at higher risk of problematic psychosocial functioning. Poor school behavior also increases for girls with low contact levels with their father.
- Fathers’ emotional involvement in the lives of their child can lead to less gendered roles.
- Fathers have a unique effect on their daughter’s tendency towards anti-social behavior. A study of 325 families revealed that fathers who present their daughters with more opportunities and reinforcement lessen the likelihood of their daughters’ poor behavior.
Having recently seen the upcoming DreamWorks Animation Film, The Croods, and then seeing what Sandberg had to say about women in the workplace, I couldn’t help but make the connection to this compelling data.
While you may not think of an animated cavegirl as the poster child for today’s working women, the reality is that Eep (pictured above on her father's shoulder), the young girl in the Croods’ family, drives the film’s plot through her desire to “leave the cave” and find new adventures out in the wide world. And guess what? She had a great dad.
As you may have seen on this blog, we gave Grug a Fatherhood Award™ for his heroic fathering in the film. Sure, these aren’t real people, but they are archetypes that mean something in our culture; the makers of The Croods have tapped into something very real. The reason Eep had the confidence to step out into a dangerous world is because she knew her father had her back. She may have been rebelling, and her father may have seen it as such, but the reality is that she would not have had the foundation to take such bold steps if she didn’t come from a supportive, strong family whose bedrock (Flintstones pun not intended) was dad. Again, take a look at the above data points if you have your doubts.
If a movie, even an animated one set in a fantasy world, is too unhinged from reality it will not be successful. That is why we at NFI believe The Croods is a special movie. DreamWorks is tapping into a truth about what gives children, especially girls in this case, the confidence they need to reach their full potential. Dads are the secret ingredient to “empowering” today’s girls to do their best.
The tagline for The Croods is “the first modern family.” Indeed.
Question: How have you seen this play out in your life as a dad?
Sources:1. Rivers, Caryl and Rosalind Chait Barnett. “Father Figures a Slew of New Studies Applaud Dads.” The Boston Globe 18 June 2000: E1.2. Coley, Rebekah Levine. “Daughter-Father Relationship and Adolescent Psychosocial Functioning in Low-Income African American Families.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 65 (November 2003): 867-875.3. Deutsch, Francine M., Laura J. Servis, and Jessica D. Payne. “Paternal Participation in Child Care and Its Effects on Children’s Self-Esteem and Attitudes Toward Gendered Roles.” Journal of Family Issues, 22 (November 2001): 1000-1024.4. Kosterman, Rick. Et al. Unique Influence of Mothers and Fathers on Their Children’s Anti-Social Behavior. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 66. (August 2004). 762-778.
Image credit: The Croods © 2013 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
NFI presented Grug, the dad from The Croods, with our Fatherhood Award™ at a special screening and Q&A at AMC Loews Theater, Lincoln Square, New York, NY. Grug was unable to accept the award in person; however, the writers and directors, Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco, accepted on Grug's behalf!
Imagine a theater full of parents, kids, sugar, soda and popcorn for almost three hours—it was epic! The screened the 3D version of the film, followed by a Q&A with actress Catherine Keener and Chris and Kirk. The following pics show all the fun! Special thanks to Dreamworks Animation and The Moms for partnering with us! Find more info at NFI's The Croods page.
NFI's Vince DiCaro (center) presenting Chris Sanders (Left) & Kirk De Micco (Right) with our Fatherhood Award™!
From left:The Moms (Denise & Melissa), Catherine Keener, Chris Sanders & Kirk De Micco
From Left: Belt, Sanders, Keener, De Micco...
More pics from the event...
Sanders & De Micco polishing the Fatherhood Award!
Sanders enjoys a rest from the paparazzi!
Presentation and Q&A time!
Keener takes question from young fan!
The kids loved the film & enjoyed meeting a larger-than-life Belt!
Prehistoric dad and star of upcoming DreamWorks Animation feature will receive award for his heroic fathering
National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) will bestow its Fatherhood Award™ on “Grug” -- the star of the upcoming 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation feature, The Croods -- at a pre-screening of the film in New York City today.
The Croods follows a prehistoric family on a road trip through dangerous and fantastical terrain as they seek a new home. Throughout the adventure, Grug protects his family from various dangers, being the first line of defense in this new world as The Croods embark on their first family road trip. He also works through the challenges of raising his teenage daughter, Eep, and develops an especially strong bond with her.
Vincent DiCaro, NFI’s vice president of development and communication, said, “Grug epitomizes many of the ideals of what being a dad is all about. First and foremost, he understands that being a great dad means sacrificing your own comfort and safety to ensure that your family is taken care of. National Fatherhood Initiative is honored to bestow the Fatherhood Award™ on Grug for exemplifying involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.”
Upon hearing about his Fatherhood Award™, Grug said, "I'm very humbled by this honor and am deeply grateful. Now everyone get back in the cave where it's safe!"
"It was an honor to play the paternal Grug, because of his commitment to his children. I celebrate all fathers who remain devoted to spending time with their sons and daughters, to just be there for them," said Nicolas Cage.
The Award will be presented at a pre-screening hosted by The Moms (Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein), the multi-platform lifestyle brand and event company. Since Grug will be unable to accept the award in person, directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders will accept on his behalf.
The screening begins at 4 p.m. EDT at AMC Loews Lincoln Square Cinemas, to be followed by the Award presentation and a celebrity Q&A with Catherine Keener, De Micco, and Sanders.
The presentation of the Fatherhood Award™ kicks off a campaign from NFI to promote the pro-fatherhood themes and messages in The Croods. Leading up to its nationwide release date of March 22, NFI will employ its social media properties to use teachable moments from the film to inspire dads and generate enthusiasm for the film. Follow the campaign here on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
Happy Throwback Thursday, Parents! Today's post reminds us parents: Small Moment. Big Impact.
Be careful watching this video, it will make you want a baby! Seriously, it will. But also seriously, it will remind you that the "small moments" at any age make the biggest impact on your child. What's one "small moment" you remember having with your kids?
In case you somehow missed The Oscars last night, here's your recap: "Argo" took home "Best Picture", Daniel Day-Lewis received "Best Actor" for his portrayal of Lincoln, and Jennifer Lawrence won "Best actress" for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. Another notable film was "Brave" which won for "Animated Feature Film". You can view the full list of winners.
You voted for your favorite films and we counted those votes. First, let's recap...
The nominees for Fatherhood Movie of the Year were:
Beasts of the Southern Wild (directed by Behn Zeitlin; starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry): We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of a challenging, but loving relationship between a father and a daughter facing difficult circumstances. Read our review here.
Brave (directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell; starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson): We nominated the film for its depiction of a fun-loving father who encourages his daughter’s adventurous spirit and who is affectionate and loving towards his wife. Read our review here.
Parental Guidance (directed by Andy Fickman; starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott): We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of the generational struggles a pair of loving grandparents face, for its positive portrayal of the importance of marriage, and for the important role the father and grandfather play in their families’ lives. Read our review here.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (directed by Peter Hedges; starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, and CJ Adams): We nominated the film for its portrayal of a highly involved and loving father who is deeply, emotionally invested in his son’s life and well being throughout the entire film. Read our review here.
And the award for "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" for 2012 goes to....Parental Guidance. Congrats, Parental Guidance and 20th Century Fox!
Stay tuned for details on presentation of the award to the winner! Thank you to all who voted. We've enjoyed discussing the fatherhood element in this year's movies.
Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our fourth and final entry is on Brave. Reminder: Vote daily through midnight, February 24th.
I can’t say that I have read a ton of articles about women in business or sports, but many of the ones that I have read have a common thread running through them – successful women in business and sports had great dads.
I am not sure what the conventional wisdom is on this topic, but from the various public education campaigns I have seen, and the mentoring programs that businesses run, it seems that the attitude is that women need to see other strong women in order to become strong themselves. This may very well be the case, but it appears to only be part of the story.
Moreover, the research on the unique effects that fathers have on their children consistently shows that fathers, more than mothers, instill a sense of adventure in their children, encourage safe risk taking, and help them see beyond narrow definitions of what is “expected” of each gender.
If you apply that research to what it takes to thrive in the business or sports worlds (or anywhere), there is a very strong case for the importance of fathers in helping their children, including girls, become successful.
What does this have to do with the movie Brave? While Brave is a decidedly mother-daughter story, it was actually the father, Fergus, who, from the very beginning of the story, encouraged his daughter Merida’s adventurous spirit. It was mom who had to “come around” to the idea of her daughter wanting to delay marriage, ride horses, and become an expert archer. Dad “got it” all along.
While the good folks at Pixar may not have realized it, they were tapping into the truths unearthed in the research I mentioned above (all of which can be found in our Father Facts publications).
This is why we have nominated Brave for the Fatherhood Movie of the Year. There have certainly been criticisms of the treatment of men and boys in the film. Many of the male characters are childish, violent, immature, and stupid. Even Fergus has moments like that. But at the heart of the father’s character is his love for his daughter and the unyielding support he gives her, even as she makes “unconventional” decisions. Moreover, he has a very loving and affectionate relationship with his wife, to the point where he embarrasses Merida with his public displays of affection.
So, for depicting a loving father and husband who encourages his daughter’s adventurous spirit and unashamedly loves his wife, Brave is up for Fatherhood Movie of the Year.
Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our third entry is on Parental Guidance.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Andy Fickman, director of this film to get The Director's Guide to Parental Guidance. The movie stars Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott. Crystal and Midler play Tomei’s character’s parents, and are grandparents to her and her husband’s three children. Mom and dad have to go away for the weekend, and they struggle with leaving the kids with their grandparents.
The film does a great job of exploring issues around parenting, grandparenting, and marriage. There are several parenting themes in the film relevant to fathers and the film does well to shed light on postives and negatives of both the "old school" and the "new school" way of doing things. Here are a few examples:
1) Old School Versus New School: Technology
Perhaps not a main theme, but funny nonetheless, is the difference between how the "old school" uses tech and the "new school" uses it. For instance, the old school is depicted as not able to answer their phone; while the new school parents have a home that's basically a glorified Siri from the iPhone. I find this portion of the film hilarious. For instance, my dad never cared to own a cell phone; but now that he has grandkids, he owns a cell phone, can text me pictures and owns a laptop where he calls me to video chat via G+ and from his own Facebook account!
2) Old School Versus New School: Sports
A funny scene takes place over Grandfather (Billy Crystal) and the grandson's baseball game. Crystal learns the way baseball is played is very differenct than how he grew up playing. When Crystal played, you could actually strike out; whereas, in the grandson's game, the teams end in a tie and each batter hits until they get on base. There's plenty of comedy in this scene and viewers will find Crystal at his acting finest! In the day of giving every participant a trophy just for playing the game, I can see my dad shaking his head.
3) Old School Versus New School: Health
Health and parenting takes a role in the film when the "old school" parenting lets the children have sugar for the first time. The "new school" doesn't let the children have sugar. This scene, although funny, will have the "new school" parent thinking twice before letting the grandparent watch the kids. After having ice cream cake for the first time, the daughter in the film grimly points out to her mother, "you lied, yogurt isn't like ice cream!" The battle over creating a health-conscious family contrasted with an anything-goes diet of grandparents is center stage in this film.
4) Old School Versus New School: Discipline
One of my favorite scenes in the film is at dinner. The entire family goes out to eat. The young mom played by Marisa Tomei begins to give her parents a lesson on how to talk to the children. Tomei says condescendingly to her "old school" parents, "Where you would say, 'quit your whining, you're giving me a headache!'; we say, 'use your words!'" For parents, this is an entertaining topic of discussion sure to last longer than the film.
5) Old School Versus New School: Marriage
Marriage is not left out of this film. The "old school" wife played by Midler does well to point out, "after the kids leave, your husband is the only one there!" Contrast this with the "new school" of leading a very busy life focused almost exclusively on the kids, and you have a nice topic for future discussion with your spouse and parents. Parents and intimacy is shown in real-life. At one point early in the film, Tom grabs Marisa and takes her out on the patio, and with the kids going crazy in the kitchen, he gives her a kiss, and she says, “Oh, that’s like a mini-date!” This film does well to depict the real difficulty of a busy family.
With regard to marriage and the mother-daughter relationship, Midler has a line that director Fickman says a lot of people responded to when Tormei says to her, “You always take dad’s side.” And Midler says, “Yes, because children leave, and I’m gonna be left with him. You hit college and you said goodbye and your father stayed.” Midler aslo points out to Tomei, “You need to go and show your husband that you support him and believe in him and you want to be with him.”
We learn from watching this film that your parents, for good or for ill, have an impact on you and how you parent. Oh, and that we all should relax, not take life too seriously and enjoy the family we have. Any movie that encourages a family to be closer; well, that's worth an award nomination in our eyes!
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At NFI, one of the most common questions we get is “So, what do you guys do?” This question often follows a long explanation of what we do. That was a joke…
But the question is a fair one, because we are not a “direct service” organization that can simply show you our office’s “underwater fathering” workshop. Instead, we enable direct service organizations to work with fathers. Therefore, it is always a bit harder for the public to visualize how we are strengthening fatherhood across the country.
But thanks to a new book, our job just got a lot easier. It is called Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance, a photography collection (and much more) from renowned photographer Lewis Kostiner.
In 2007, Kostiner began traveling around the country with NFI staff members to document the stories of real dads who had been through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations around the United States. We would choose a city, find out which community-based organizations in that city were using NFI resources, and then go meet with the dads at their homes, places of work, and with the service providers to capture the images and words that would do justice to their fatherhood journeys.
When all was said and done, Kostiner had photographed more than 150 fathers from all walks of life in 17 states and 39 cities who had at least one thing in common – they were all working hard to be the best dads they could be.
The visually stunning book tells their stories, and, as a result, NFI’s story. These are dads who were going through NFI’s 24/7 Dad® curriculum at their local social services agency. They are formerly incarcerated fathers learning how to be great dads through NFI’s InsideOut Dad® program. They are “regular guys” benefiting from community resources that NFI helped create.
Several prominent figures contributed to the book to round out these compelling stories. The foreword is by journalist Juan Williams, who urges our nation and its leaders to take seriously the need to strengthen fatherhood for the sake of our children. The book also includes an essay by NFI board member Roland Warren, who provides practical steps that dads can take to help themselves and others be the kinds of dads our children deserve. David Travis, Shipra S. Parikh, and Derrick M. Bryan also lend their voices to the book.
Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance should have come with a box of tissues, as it is hard to keep your eyes dry as you see these dads and hear their voices and their children’s voices. What those voices are telling us -- or, more accurately, screaming to us from the mountaintops -- is that every child needs a great dad.
But it is one thing for us to tell you that. It is another to look into the eyes of a child and really see that. That is the gift that Choosing Fatherhood gives you.
Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance will make a great addition to your coffee table or, if you work in a community-based setting, your waiting room. It can be purchased here.
Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
This week we have reached the perfect connection in romance and social media! Not only is today #ThrowbackThursday; but it's also Valentines' Day! We have a blog post from back in the day about Keith Urban and his view of...guess what? Marriage! That makes this #ThrowbackThursday post the perfect romantic post for Valentine's Day! Because what's more romantic than a celebrity who knows that loving his wife more than his kids is ok? Answer: nothing. Nothing is more romantic! Happy Valentine's Day, parents!
From the American Idol page:
Keith Urban has sold more than 15 million albums, is a four-time Grammy Award winner, and has won a People's Choice and American Music Award.He's won five Academy of Country Music Awards and had 14 No. 1 songs, including 28 Top 5 hits. In 2012, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. His latest CD, "Get Closer," comes on the heels of his fifth consecutive platinum or multi-platinum release. It has produced three consecutive No. 1 singles: "You Gonna Fly," "Long Hot Summer" and "Without You."
From our throwback blog post on Keith Urban, Loving Your Spouse More Than Your Kids:
Urban recently revealed in an interview that he loves Nicole more than their two children. To do justice to what he said, I have copied the entire quote here:
"We're very, very tight as a family unit and the children are our life, but I know the order of my love. It's my wife and then my daughters. I just think it's really important for the kids...There are too many parents who start to lose the plot a little and start to give all their love to the kids, and then the partner starts to go without. And then everybody loses. As a kid, all I needed to know was that my parents were solid. Kids shouldn't feel like they are being favoured. It's a dangerous place."
We at NFI think what Urban said is worth repeating—perhaps today would be a great day to show your wife that she is more important to you than anything in the world—even more important than the kids!
We commented in the throwback blog post:
But research seems to back Urban's mentality. Generally speaking, the most important relationship in the home is the one between mom and dad. As Urban states, if their relationship fails, everyone loses. While we don't yet have research that shows specifically that marriages in which the spouses love each other more than the kids produce "better kids," we do know that kids who grow up in married homes do better, on average, across every measure of child well-being. We also know that divorce is not good for children. We also know that parents who are married to each other are closer to each other and to their kids than parents in any other family structure. Put that all together, and what Urban says looks pretty good.
What's one thing you will do today to show your spouse takes priority over your kids?
Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our second entry is on The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
In The Odd Life of Timothy Green we see on the big screen that fathering isn’t about WHAT your child does; but more about WHO your child is.
When Odd Life opened in theaters in August, we wrote Are You Putting Your Kid in a Box? and The Odd Life of Parents. So we've talked about the child's perspective and the overall parental perspective. However, we nominated this film as a finalist for our 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year based on it’s real and genuine depiction of fatherhood – and the lessons we learn about fathering through Jim, Timothy’s Dad.
The Odd Life makes a dad think about which dreams matter and which dreams don't. Most times, you and I dream the wrong dreams for our kids. When we dream of "the perfect child" we are typically dreaming of WHAT our son or daughter will be instead of WHO they will be as person. These lessons come about through the daily lives of the Green family, below are two such ways us dads are taught what's most important:
1) What Versus Who: Artist or Honest?
Jim and Cindy wish that fateful night—in their wishses for the pefect child—for "Our kid to be Picasso with pencil"! Essentially, Jim and Cindy wish for an artist. They get their wish! But not as they expect. You see, the Green's also wish for their child to be, "honest to a fault". The Green's are granted that wish as well. Timothy draws a beautiful image of his mother's boss at work. But upon review, he draws his beautiful picture a little to accurate, including facial hair for the female subject! The lesson for dads? Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!
2) What Versus Who: Amazing Athlete or Positive Person?
That same night of wishing for the perfect child, the Green's wish for their kid to, "score the winning goal"! Sounds simple enough, right?! Wrong! Timothy ends the big soccer game by kicking the winning goal—for the other team! Also during the game, we see another wish fulfilled in Timothy, for the Green's had also wished that night for their child to be, "the glass half-full person"! They get the positive child. Timothy is a very positive kid. So positive he sits on the bench most of the soccer game, giving his coach water at one point, totally content with not playing in the game of all games! Again, there's a lesson for dads. Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!
The Odd Life serves as a great reminder of what is truly important to instill in our children – that it’s WHO they are that matters more than WHAT they do. Daily, we as dads are to cherish our children, no matter what. The dad in The Odd Life depicts a father who does exactly that.
Dads watching this movie will learn many lessons; but one of the most important lessons is this: don't put your child in a box. Don't dream up skills and things that are seen and can therefore be contained. Instead, dream and model the unseen, like character, values and respect. It's more important to be honest than to be the next Picasso. It's more important to be a positive person than to be an amazing athlete. From NFI’s perspective, this film depicts an active, involved and committed father—and we can’t ask for more than that. For this reason, we nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year.