This is a guest post by Jeff Hay. Jeff runs The Dad Vibe. Follow Jeff on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested in guest blogging for us, send an email.
Dad, you are a hero. Period.
You are a hero until you prove otherwise. From the moment you become dad, you are put on a pedestal– it’s up to you to stay on there.
When a child is born, a father is born. But dads soon learn that mom is a baby’s number 1 for obvious reasons; a new baby needs mom. The hierarchy is simple; MOM, then everyone else in the world (the “not-my-moms”).
However, something magical happens for dad when a child recognizes dad from all the other ‘not-my-moms’. “Hey! This guy smells different, talks different, sings terribly, and holds me like a football running back – but he is safe, comforting, and I like this guy. I like him a lot!”
Your children will learn tons from mom, but there are many things they will learn from you. You are critical to their development – you have unique, wonderful gifts to share.
Your children will always look to you for guidance, values, strength, protection, and leadership.
• Dad can pick up anything no matter how heavy it looks.
• Dad can open any jar no matter who else tries to budge it.
• Dad can fix or build anything, no matter how confusing the IKEA instructions appear.
• Dad can survive third degree burns to his face from the BBQ with the broken starter
• Dad’s arms are always the safest place when fear creeps in.
• Dad can do anything. Dad has NO fear.
Can you see how your children see you? 10 feet tall and bulletproof – that is how they view you… do you see it? You slay dragons and aren’t afraid of anything in the closet, under the bed, or in the super dark and scary basement. You can face your daughter’s ex-boyfriends that can’t take a hint.
Your boss may not always want your ideas and experience, but your children do. They need your story and your experience. You are the king of the castle and you have valuable lessons, values, and ideas to teach.
Dad believes in his children and instils in them the belief that they can do anything they commit too – regardless of gender. My children know and recite all my lines, “Boys can do anything girls can do except have babies…”
Your words and action all carry great significance. From how you treat the homeless on the street to the people at the fast food drive thru, and even to how you talk to or about mom – little ears are listening and little eyes are watching your every move. They may not always listen to your words, but they will not fail to imitate you.
You are the anchor…
The team captain…
The ROCK. Please never forget that.
Positivity, values, and inspiration springs from you.
If you could see how your children see you, even for 5 minutes, you would never parent the same way again.
Be Bold…. You are a Hero!!!
Ditch the tights and cape – no dude looks good in those. You don’t need them, you are a DAD and that’s more than enough.
Until next time…
Question: Dad, since you are a superhero, what's your super power?
Happy Throwback Thursday! Today's reminder: Take time to be a dad! Enjoy!
Question: How will you "take time to be a dad" today?
This is a guest post by Angela Patton. Angela is Founder of Camp Diva, which organizes "Date with Dad"; a father-daughter dance connecting fathers to their daughters while in prison. Follow Angela on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested in guest blogging for us, send an email.
I was searching the internet one day for images of fathers and daughters dancing and came across a picture of a father and daughter at a dance that looked like it was from the 60s. It reminded me of something I knew all too well…father-daughter dances are nothing new. They’ve been going on for decades, centuries even. I remember attending one with my own father when I was a little girl. So I asked myself, what makes our (Camp Diva’s) dance so different? What’s so special about the Date with Dad Dinner and Dance?
1) How it began?
One day, I was having a conversation with my girls in Camp Diva. One shared how smothered she felt by her father’s attention, while another shared how much she wished her father, who she hadn’t heard from in years, would pay her any attention at all. This led to a deeper discussion about their various ‘daddy issues.’ And while they all had different relationships with their fathers, they all wanted better ones. So I asked them how they thought they could help themselves, and other girls, develop healthy relationships with their fathers. The reply: “a dance!” So the “Date with Dad Dinner & Dance” began with the girls doing much of the planning. They spoke. We listened. In the end, we gave them what they said they wanted…quality time with their fathers.
2) We Have Fill-In Dads!
A single mother in Rhode Island complained her daughter was prevented from attending a father-daughter dance. Well, not to worry, Date with Dad has Fill-In Dads! Among the 20 who attended our first Date with Dad in 2008 was a girl whose father was deceased. After helping to set up for the event, the husband of one of our volunteers saw the girl, walked over to her, and asked her to dance. He ended up hanging out with her for the entire evening. Both had a great time, and he volunteered to come back the following year—starting a tradition of “Fill-In Dads” at the Date with Dad. Not having a father or father-figure doesn’t exclude girls from attending.
3) We Go To Prison!
One year, one of the Camp Diva girls told the others she would not be attending the dance because her father was incarcerated. So the girls suggested bringing the dance inside the walls of the city jail! They wrote a letter to the sheriff, the sheriff said yes, and so began “A Dance of Their Own,” which gave 18 incarcerated fathers the chance to connect with their daughters outside of normal visiting hours—minus the glass wall and telephone—enabling them to hug and hold their daughters. No one is left out of the Date with Dad experience.
4) It is Open to ALL!
Traditionally, many father-daughter dances are attended by members of a certain organization, or students in a particular school, of a certain age group. But Date with Dad invites girls, and women, of every age to attend; thus, bringing together women and girls of various backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses, from different areas. Younger girls also get the chance to see older women with their fathers, modeling what they hope will be their future relationships with their own fathers. An equally diverse group of men also come together, from blue collar to professional, single and weekend dads, as well as full time/married dads. Again, the men have a chance to network and connect with each other, and share their trials and triumphs as fathers.
5) Our Partnerships
We don’t want fathers and daughters to come to the Date with Dad simply to eat, dance, and be entertained. We want to help them connect with each other, heal their relationships, and get them going in the right direction. We want to connect them with community resources to help them strengthen their relationships. To that end, we have cultivated partnerships with various organizations committed to providing that assistance. In addition, we utilize the Richmond Fatherhood Initiative’s “Inside-Out Dads” curriculum for our “Dance of Their Own.” The fathers in the city jail go through the program before and after the dance. Our partners have also fostered within us the desire and opportunity to help others to replicate our model and make changes in their communities. Our next stop: Norfolk, Virginia. It is our hope to expand nationally, as well as internationally, as the issues connected to fathers and daughters are universal.
So you see Date with Dad is not just any father-daughter dance. It’s more than a dance, more than an event. It’s an experience. It’s part of an ongoing conversation between fathers and daughters, or at least the start of one, and it is making a difference!
See Angela's TedxWomen Talk about "A Father-Daughter Dance...in Prison":
Question: How do you connect best with your child?
Facilities Across Pennsylvania Have Been Equipped to Deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® Program to Connect Incarcerated Fathers With Their Children
National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has trained 37 Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) staff members on how to deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® program to incarcerated fathers across Pennsylvania.
The training took place at a Training Academy in Elizabethtown, PA on January 15 and 16 following the decision of PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel to standardize InsideOut Dad® at the state’s 24 adult male correctional facilities and 1 boot camp facility. The training equipped treatment specialists, corrections counselors, and chaplains to deliver the classroom-based curriculum to fathers seeking to reconnect with their children. The curriculum covers topics such as family history, what it means to be a man, showing and handling feelings, co-parenting, and much more.
Michael Yudt, NFI’s Senior Director of Program Support Services, who delivered the training, said, “The training revealed a great deal of excitement among Pennsylvania Department of Corrections staff for this type of program, aimed at helping inmate dads reconnect and strengthen their relationships with their children. In fact, one facilitator plans to delay her retirement until she has a chance to run InsideOut Dad® for a year.”
Pennsylvania is the 25th U.S. state to “standardize” InsideOut Dad® -- the nation’s only evidence-based program designed specifically for working with incarcerated fathers -- across its state correctional facilities. An independent study by Rutgers University qualified InsideOut Dad® as evidence-based, proving its effectiveness in building fathers’ knowledge and confidence in being better fathers, even while incarcerated.
"When individuals come to prison, not only does the community suffer, often their children, innocent victims in the situation, pay a toll. This program addresses the need for male offenders to stand up, face their responsibilities, and truly be a man in every sense of the word. Not only do we need this program, society does, as 90% of our men will return to our communities one day," said Secretary Wetzel.
SCI-Mahanoy, a facility in Frackville, PA, has been running InsideOut Dad® and was instrumental in arranging for implementation across the entire state. As a result of the training, each of the 25 facilities aims to offer InsideOut Dad® once per quarter as a voluntary program for inmates, with state-mandated eligibility criteria in place for fathers seeking to participate in the program.
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.
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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.
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“And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one. Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home.” -- President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 2/12/13
Not for the first time, President Barack Obama urged the nation to strengthen the institution of fatherhood. He also made the important connection between marriage and fatherhood; two forces that work together to strengthen families and the economy.
The President’s timely comments ride on the heels of new research from the Pew Research Center (which we cited in a CNN.com op-ed on Monday) that shows that marriage is in decline, creating an enormous cultural and economic gap between those who marry and those who don’t. Thus, the President hit the nail on the head in tying the vibrancy of the middle class to the health of marriage.
The President has consistently voiced his support for responsible fatherhood, having formed the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Task Force in 2007, of which former NFI president, Roland C. Warren, was part. NFI and Roland helped create this report on how the federal government can address fatherhood issues.
For NFI’s part, we are inspired to hear the leader of the free world choose to take time out of his most important speech to voice his support for fatherhood and marriage. Twenty four million children grow up in biological father-absent homes today, and we don’t have a fatherless child to spare!
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photo credit: white house
This is a guest post by Lori E. Allan. Lori's poem, "Absence" won first place in the Dudley Randall poetry competition at the University of Detroit Mercy. The poem talks about the struggle and disappointment that comes with the absence of a father. Below is the story behind the poem, followed by the first-place poem. You can find Lori here and here. If you are interested in guest blogging for us, send an email.
Many people deal with the absence of their father differently. My parents got divorced when I was four and that was the last time my father was around and was in contact with my siblings and I. My mother was so strong so I never thought of the separation as a bad thing. We were okay. I held on to God and sought him out for guidance, provision, and truth. Surprisingly, it never really hit me until I got older. There are certain things in life that a father should be there for. I was accomplishing so much and doing so well in my endeavors. I was eager to know how much more knowledgeable I would be if my father was around. I made so many decisions based on what I thought a father figure would want me to do and it got me pretty far, but I was missing out on the tangibility of a father.
Most of the people I went to school with in Detroit didn’t have a father around either and it was obvious. People cling to different things to fill that void without knowing it and it’s scary. I definitely saw that things would be easier on my mother if she had someone to raise us with. A father to be there financially, emotionally, and just someone strong to go through life with would have been amazing for her and she deserved it. I do understand that things didn’t work out and he wasn’t the right guy, but I have a hard time understanding how someone wouldn’t want to be the right guy. I co-taught a first grade class and they brought me so much joy! I couldn’t fathom how someone would ever want to miss out on everything you can learn from a child.
The fact that I am becoming the woman God wants me to be and that I am coming out of this situation the way that I am amazes me. I knew that I was in a very vulnerable position as a woman growing up without a father. It made me very cautious when dating. I had a pretty good idea of how I should be treated, but I needed an example from a father. It is so important for a guy to see the relationship you have with your father. I used my relationship with my Heavenly Father to fill that and I wasn’t always a good steward in my relationship with God. God has heard, “you aren’t enough” from me plenty of times. But in the end, He really was and has been. He’s been there through everything: scraped knees, graduations, sick days, performances, and heartbreaks. He’ll be there when I get married and when I have a child one day.
I have no hard feeling towards my dad. I realized that you can’t make someone be a father and everyone isn’t cut out to be one. Who knows, maybe things are better this way. I just really hope that wherever he is, he’s a man and he’s growing. Not for me, but for himself. Though God has done far more than I could ever ask think or imagine, it would have never hurt to have two fathers. My relationship with God is a special one and I couldn’t have asked for a better father.
My poem, "Absence" won first place in the Dudley Randall poetry competition at the University of Detroit Mercy. The poem talks about the struggle and disappointment that comes with the absence of a father. It isn’t about anger; it is about unanswered questions and voids that will linger on. A father will always be thought about and he will always be needed. His absence is more present than anything else in the whole world.
by Lori E. Allan
Empty in the photos
is the shape of a man
who has left a void
The strength of his arms
lifted the glass
apart from the frame
as he climbed out of the situation.
Behind the bars,
I am confined within
the seventy-two percent
of African-American children raised
in single-parent homes.
Struggle is the only thing
that shows up
in the house we live in,
the food we eat,
the look in my mother’s eyes.
Despite the chasm,
I can still hear the way he says my name.
He had a photographer’s urge
to stop and capture a moment
and never developed the photo.
The void is tangible;
I hold it in my hands
and wonder if there is
a significant difference
between who I am
and who I could have been
because of what he could have been—
I house his vacancy in a cautious frame,
passing it by when I have what I need
and climbing inside when I see that I don’t.
It is a black and white photo
that I see in color.
In his absence,
I see it all.