One of the duties of my position as Web Editor at NFI is to scour the Internet looking for interesting stories and news bits to place on our homepage and blog. As part of the Communications team, Im often swimming in words and ideas a chief joy of being a writer in my opinion. In my discovery, I found yet another reason to connect with the work I do here.
I came across an article from Salon.com featuring an excerpt of an upcoming memoir
from writer Anne Serling, daughter of famed The Twilight Zone
creator Rod Serling. Her book, Another Dimension: Growing Up With The Man Behind The Twilight Zone
, serves not only as a memoir, but also as a way for Ms. Serling to resolve the grief behind losing her father at the age of 50 in 1975; Ms. Serling was just around 20 at the time.
In the excerpt, Ms. Serling takes care to detail her pain regarding her fathers death after open-heart surgery and how his famous show helped connect her to the man she loved, a television program she largely avoided because of his passing.Later that summer, a little more resilient, I began to watch my fathers Twilight Zones, doing this more to see him than the actual show. I randomly selected one called In Praise of Pip. The episode was filmed at the Pacific Ocean Park, the same amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier that my dad took my sister and me to.What was so striking, so personal and so moving about this particular story was some of the dialogue. In this episode, Jack Klugman says to his son, Whos your best buddy, Pip?You are, Pop.Just like the routine my dad and I did.
I grew up watching The Twilight Zone
, always amazed at how this show managed to expand my imagination while injecting some relatable themes to boot. I have a few favorite episodes, some I still wish I could watch on my old VHS player: A Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, A Short Drink From A Certain Fountain, and the classic To Serve Man episode. I just read that cable station SyFy
will be continuing its New Year's Eve tradition of running a Twilight Zone
marathon, so theres no guesswork on where Ill be parked all weekend.
Ms. Serlings words about her dad touched me deeply and my research on her father revealed that he was not a simple man. But what stood out, Mr. Serlings own daughter wasn't impressed with her dads fame and accomplishments (he was a decorated serviceman and a part-time parachute tester). What she loved about her father was that he was much more to her than a masterful weaver of tales. Ms. Serling referred to her father as a playmate and confidant something all fathers should aspire to be, even when theyre off creating worlds of wonder elsewhere.
This will be my final blog post of 2011, so to all Father Factor readers, I wish you all a happy 2012, and stay tuned as we have a lot of great stories and blogs in store for the coming year.
An interesting video report
appeared on ABC News site the other day regarding men who become new dads, stating that the responsibilities that go along with the job caused lowered testosterone levels in men. Earlier this year, NFIs Vincent DiCaro wrote a blog post in response
to a New York Times
piece regarding the very research that led to this discovery. Vinces blog highlighted key points that affirmed why this hormonal development may in fact aid fathers in their parental duties.
ABCs report follows the same angle in showing that dads who dote on their children have lowered testosterone levels but state that science supports this being good for the family unit. In generations past, men were often cast as pillaging nomads intent on exacting their aggressive will upon women and challenging other men in silly egotistical contests. Rare was it that fathers were shown to be in the house with their children, cooing to them or caring for their progeny.
Emmy-winning London-based ABC News correspondent Nick Watt led the latest report, injecting himself into the story as a father of two small boys himself. Watt playfully jabbed at himself for having lowered hormone levels, with various shots of the reporter playing lovingly with his boy. Harvard professor Peter Ellison, also quoted in the Times
piece, reacted to Watts assertion that his modern day dad duties were making him less of a man. Ellison refuted the thought, simply saying that its an incorrect way to look at this startling phenomenon.
The action then cuts to Watt profiling a local rugby team, one of the most brutal sports on the planet. Highlighting a star player and coach who were both dads, Watt reported that their testosterone levels, while lowered after fatherhood, spiked back to normal while engaged in their contests. Watt also mentioned aptly that human parenting is easier when mom and dad are both involved. Watt was also candid in sharing that his own father was not as caring as he is with his sons, noting that dads in the 70s modeled themselves into alpha-male caricatures instead of involved parents.
Watt closed out his report mentioning his wife just had a second baby and that with two small children, he joked that his testosterone levels were in the basement. Watt ended the segment with two really awesome quotes Id like to share with the Factor Father readers.
This is, in fact, more manly than leaving wife and kids at home to go skydiving and skirt chasing, said Watt while being shown spinning his eldest son around. Watt ended the clip by saying, Im at home in the nest, as nature says I should be.
Amen to that, Mr. Watt.
The best thing about Subaru's "Baby Driver"
ad is that you don't even know what model Subaru is being advertised.
How many car commercials have you seen in which, at the end of the commercial, you don't actually know the name of the car? Your answer, if you have seen "Baby Driver," is probably "one."
So, why did Subaru do this? Why did they "break the rules of advertising"?
We were lucky enough to get the answer straight from the folks at Subaru last week when we presented them with a Fatherhood Award
for their great work on "Baby Driver."
What they told us is that they wanted to focus on the relationship between the father and daughter in the ad (who happen to be a real life father and daughter!), and not on the specifics of the car. They were more interested in face-to-face than cargo space.
And that is why we gave Subaru a Fatherhood Award. Too often, father-child relationships are reduced to punchlines on TV. Subaru decided to show real life fatherhood - dads who care about the safety of their children and "live life deeply" with them.
We are hopeful that more and more companies will follow Subaru's lead. They have good economics reasons to - new research is showing that dads are becoming more and more involved in family purchasing decisions. When dads are portrayed well, everyone wins - dads, moms, kids, and the company's bottom line.
Bravo to Subaru for such a great ad that sends such a great message... After all, "Love" is
what makes a Subaru a Subaru.
Welcome to the third installment of our 10-week podcast series, Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell.
This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about raising daughters.
Since boys and girls are different, being a father to them presents different challenges and opportunities. Mark, a father of three boys and one girl, has some great advice for being a great dad to your daughter (next week, well hear what he has to say about raising sons).
Click here to download the podcast on Marks game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to raising daughters.
This is a guest post from Dr. Clarence Shuler. Dr Shuler is an author, marriage counselor, speaker and life & relationship coach. He is President/CEO of BLR: Building Lasting Relationships, a non-profit helping individuals and organizations develop mutually-beneficial relationships. Dr. Shuler and his wife Brenda have three college-aged daughters.
More than a few fathers and mothers gave me a warning when my three girls were young. Their warning was that as soon as my girls became teenagers that they wouldnt want to spend time with me. Their warning troubled me.
Unintentionally, I almost made their prediction come true. It hit me in two ways. First, while on our family vacation to Disney World, I realized that my girls were getting what was left over in my time. My girls deserved and needed my best, so I changed my priority to focus on my girls after their mother and then my job.
Secondly, as a self-employed struggling new writer, I kept the door of my home office closed. My little girls love me, so they wouldnt even knock on the door because they didnt want to disturb me. Maybe it was the grace of God that had me move my office to the basement and keep my office door open.
Like clockwork, with an open door, all my girls from elementary school through high school as soon as they came home would come down to my office to say, Hello and touch base with me. It was a little humbling initially because they only wanted five minutes or so to say, I love you Dad. I responded, I love you too. How was your day? I didnt ask yes/no questions.
My girls knew with my open door policy that they were and are more important than anything Im writing. They said it gave them security knowing they had access to me. Even when I travel for a speaking engagement or consulting, my girls know that if they call, Im going to answer my cell. I may ask, Can we talk later? But Im going to answer their call.
I also began taking my girls on some of my trips so we could have some one-on-one time. This was more work because when I finished working, there was no down time, but I made memories with them forever! It was good use of those frequent flyer miles and hotel points!
Teaching and coaching my girls in basketball and tennis resulted in bonding more with them. Children and wives spell love: T-I-M-E!
The payoff has been my girls asking me to come see them in college and calling to share their lives with me. I often text them: I LOVE YOU.
With my twins being 22 years old and my baby 21, Im glad they want me in their lives. It isnt about being perfect. Ive certainly blown things; but forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It is about consistency. Often, I asked my girls how I was doing as their dad. We had some relevant discussions. They helped me father them better. We all made some changes. They appreciated me apologizing when I was wrong. It is about quantity time, not quality time. QUALITY TIME comes out of QUANTITY TIME.
What Im trying to say is that my daughters love spending time with me, which is one of the greatest gifts that I continue to treasure.
This is a guest post by Ave Mulhern, NFI's Director of the National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity Building Initiative. She shares her memories of exploring the great outdoors with her dad as a child as part of NFI's campaign to help Dads "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer."
Being in the great outdoors was not a big part of my upbringing. I tend to be more comfortable in the great indoors.
That being said, I do remember some wonderful times being out and about with my father who had a love of books and trees. I am the sixth child of a family of eight. Five boys first, then three girls - I am the first girl. In a way, we were like two separate families. The wild, older boys were all car fanatics and they worked in my fathers business, a service station. When we girls came along, my dad was obviously an older, kinder and gentler version of a father. Dont get me wrong, he was always a bit of a grump and in his later years, he was called (to his face) Grumps. This probably was due to a disappointing life for a bright and scholarly man on his way to becoming an attorney who ended up owning a service station fixing peoples cars. Life happens, but with this latter, gentler, girl family he was able to leave the grease behind, for a bit, and have an attentive audience of three to spend time with and share his love of learning - and we believed he knew just about everything.
My father Cornelius (aka Connie) was an avid reader. I can barely muster up a mental image of him not reading a book. He loved history books, business and real estate books, biographies, and nature books. In the summer, he literally took us to the library every single week and if we didn't bicker in the car, we might get an ice cream at Chernoffs Pharmacy. He took us to quirky old used bookstores and he owned a lot of books. One collection was the little Golden Field Guides - you know, those little pocket sized nature books titled Birds of North America
, Rocks and Minerals
, and SeaShells of North America
? I suppose they have versions for other areas than North America? But the one I remember most is Trees of North America
. I still have it around here somewhere.
Dad would drive to nearby Morris Arboretum armed with the little tree book and he would send us off to identify certain trees. I once successfully spotted a Beech tree based on his vivid description of how the enormous and magnificent branches grow out and down to touch the ground like a giant 70-foot-wide shrub - but underneath, those low branches create a sort of house or fort that you could play in. He reminded us that these trees must be planted with enough foresight to ensure the proper setting and enough room to mature into their magnificence. Dad drove us around town showing us where the township built the sidewalk around a 200-year-old oak tree preserving it for the future. We saw distinctive Horse Chestnut trees with spring flowers and fall conkers (nuts), the toxic but valuable Black Walnut trees, the beautiful star-shaped leaves of the Sweet Gum tree and the really wretched smelling fruit of the prehistoric female Gingko tree. (The male version doesnt stink!)
To this day, there are two specimens of those magnificent beech trees, properly placed mind you, on the front lawn of a beautiful estate home nearby. I never pass by them without thinking fondly of my dad and our somewhat-outdoor adventures. My own children were not as interested as my sisters and I but right now I am looking for that little Trees of North America
field guidebook so I can take it with me to Wisconsin to share with our grandchildren. Hey, is Wisconsin considered North America?
Last Saturday, singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her home. She was 27 years old. Although the police state that her death is unexplained at this time, there is little doubt that her passing is the result of years of alcohol and drug abuse.
It is sadly ironic that Winehouses biggest hit and biographical anthem was the bluesy song Rehab where she declared No. No. No. to anyone who would suggest that she needed that kind of help. Indeed, her life imitated her art to the bitter end.
Given my work with fathers, there was one line in Rehab that I found especially disturbing. Its when Winehouse croons, I aint got the time and if my daddy thinks Im fine
So, I decided to do a little research to find out whos her daddy. After all, what kind of father would tell a daughter who was spiraling down into a deadly cycle of addiction that shes fine?
Well, it turns out that her daddy, Mitchell Winehouse, who nurtured her unique vocal style by singing Sinatra songs to her as a child, clearly did not think that she was fine. In fact, it was reported that he was very concerned because his daughter exhibited early signs of emphysema and an irregular heartbeat, all linked to her chain smoking and crack cocaine use. Its also reported that he often admonished saying, Yes. Yes. Yes. and encouraged her to stop touring so that she could get the rehab that she desperately needed.
So, if Winehouses real daddy was telling her to go to rehab, then whos the daddy that she was referring to in her song? Could it be that Winehouse had two daddies?
I think that the answer was clearly yes. The other daddies were the drug dealers that made it easy for her to get the high that ultimately brought her very low. All the while, they were telling her that she was fine.
But, they werent the only ones.
You see, Winehouse certainly was no candle in the wind, but rather, she was a brush fire that the winds of fame helped stoke out of control. In her concerts, she was often high, drunk, and disorderly. Most troubling, at most shows, her fans just urged her on, like in this performance of Rehab at Glastonbury. She was barely standing and visibly incoherent. Yet, the people watching were gleefully smiling, singing, cheering, snapping pictures and taking videos. They were having fun at her expense. They were telling her, she was fine.
Yes, Winehouse had two daddies. One who loved her and gave her life. The other who used her and gave her death. And, unfortunately, she said No, No. No. to the wrong one.
At NFI, Julys theme is "The Great Outdoors," with the tagline Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids this Summer
. With this in mind, I was reminded of a compelling commercial by Zebco,
a leading provider of fishing tackle. It's titled Dont let your kids be the the ones that get away." (Check it out here
What a powerful reminder to all dads this summer that life is not so much about what you do, but rather, it's about who youre with, the memories and the relationships that are formed and strengthened.
Some time ago, I was speaking to a gentleman who did a fair amount of consulting for General Motors in the area of auto safety. He recounted how, in recent years, GM had shifted its focus and philosophy for auto safety from crash resistance (making cars that withstand crashes with minimal damage) to crash avoidance (make cars that can sense and avoid crashes before they occur).
As I listened, it stuck me that this was a wonderful and challenging metaphor for fathering. As dads, are we trying to build children that can avoid societal crashes (e.g., drugs, crime and teen pregnancy) before they occur? Or are we satisfied to try and salvage their broken lives, hoping for minimal damage once the crashes of life occur? Something to think about...
This is a guest post by Sean DeFrehn, the husband of NFI's Manager of Outreach, Brittany DeFrehn. Sean and Brittany just became first-time parents to a beautiful baby girl.
Did you know that infants can imitate expressions in their first few days of life? Not something that really mattered to me until a few weeks ago when I became a father. Since then it's almost all I can think about.
Smiling can effect so much in your life besides your mood; it can boost your immune system, reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and it even enhances others' perceptions of you and therefore your influence on them.
Being a father is my chance to give someone the best life I can, so I will fill her life with smiles.
Not just my smiles but those of our friends and more importantly her family. I can't control the members of our family, but I can control my interactions with them. To give the most to my daughter, I need to give the most to her family, especially her mother. Our relationship constantly and personally affects our daughter every day, and how I treat her mother will likely be what she looks for in a man.
So as I spend my day giving my all to my wife, our family, and our friends, and as the diaper changes at three a.m. make the days and nights long and difficult, I always keep this in mind: I won't let a moment go by without smiling because there is nothing better than my daughter smiling back.