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.
My son was sitting in his car seat as we drove home from day care at the end of a long day. He was holding his lunch bag in his hand. He always has to have something in this hand… Then, something about the lunch bag suddenly annoyed him, so he frantically threw it down, it landed on his legs, and he kicked vigorously to make sure it ended up on the floor of the car. Then he was quiet. We listened to music in silence for the rest of the 15-minute drive home.
This happens a lot with Little Vinny. He is a bundle of emotions, needing only the slightest prompt for him to erupt into an emotional – happy, sad, angry, annoyed – storm for the next… 5 seconds.
Yes, it is true. My son has the shortest emotional outbursts I have ever seen in a human being. He is a “match.” Doesn’t take much to light it, it burns bright and hot for a few seconds, and then it is out, with little sign that anything ever happened.
I have only had one two-year-old son in my life, and I have never spent more than a few minutes with any other two-year-old, so I am certainly not an expert on toddler temperaments. But my guess is that there are lots of two-year-olds like mine.
But I have also heard stories of two-year-olds who are not matches, but “torches.” They are not set off too easily, but when they are, they burn for a long time. They stew and fuss and are moody and unbearable for minutes or hours.
I am not sure what is “better,” a match or a torch. The good thing about my son is that he rarely is in a bad mood for more than a few minutes. But he can go from being in a good mood to a bad mood so quickly and for the silliest reasons. On the other hand, he can go from bad mood to good mood quickly, too.
A torch on the other hand would be “easier” in that his or her moods would be more stable. No emotional roller coasters from minute to minute. “Oh, Johnny is in a good mood today. Great.” At our house, it’s, “Vinny is in a good mood right now. Great.” But with torches, I would imagine it could be stressful to know that your child is in “one of his moods” that may last for hours. We never have that problem with Vinny.
What is your child – a match or a torch? What do you think is easier to handle for parents?
This post was authored by Chris Brown, NFI's Executive Vice President.
I’ve been involved in promoting involved, responsible, committed fatherhood for more than a decade in my role at NFI (and for several years prior to that with the Texas Department of State Health). Although I’ve seen a lot of movement in this country in general and among service providers specifically to recognize the indispensable role fathers play in raising healthy children, I am still amazed when I see evidence of how much more work we still have to do to help people realize that we must "call out" dads specifically rather than simply as part of the monolithic group of parents.
I am even more amazed when I see that some of the most well-known icons in our culture treat dads as second-class parents and, worse, incompetent parents as you might have read recently in this blog about the dad-bashing Huggies® commercials
that were revised by the company only after backlash from dads and NFI
. But I digress.
One of the most successful parenting programs in the world is called Triple-P Positive Parenting®. Developed by a group of researchers in Australia more than 30 years ago, the program has ample evidence that it helps parents to be, well, better parents. Based on this evidence, the program has expanded across the globe with offices in several countries that are dedicated to spreading the program in those domestic markets. Only recently, however, has the program been examined for separate affects on mothers and fathers, and this is where the story becomes interesting.
Researchers in Australia published a study in a recent edition of the American journal, Fathering
, that found that Triple-P is—surprise, surprise—more effective with mothers than fathers. This study of nearly 5,000 parents who participated in the program found a large, positive effect on mothers’ parenting and a much smaller albeit positive effect on fathers’ parenting.
What struck me most, however, was the following finding: only 14 percent of the participating parents were fathers. The real problem here is not so much with the program or its impact—although I would certainly like to see it have the same degree of impact on fathers—it is with the lack of outreach and promotion to get fathers in the door. The Australian government spent more than $5 million to train facilitators in the program to, basically, train moms under the illusion that it would reach both sets of parents.
To be fair, the study found that even when the dad didn’t participate and the mom did, the program reduced the conflict between the couple which, no doubt, improved their parenting. And I have no doubt that the facilitators and the organizations they work for made some attempt to recruit dads into the program. But this is the same problem I see over and over again—a lack of commitment in our culture generally and among service providers specifically to call out dads as dads and not as parents.
Trust me when I say, “Parenting is a code word for ‘mothering.’” Until recently, Parenting
magazine's tagline was “What Matters to Moms” (they changed the tagline but not the emphasis on moms). The New York Times
parenting blog is called Motherlode.
One of the best ways to make this call to dads is with marketing strategies and materials designed specifically to reach fathers about programs specifically designed for fathers, such as NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ program
. Simply making parenting programs “father-friendly” won’t do. I realize that statement might make some folks wriggle in their chair and, perhaps, stand up and shake their finger in disapproval. But also trust me when I say that based on nearly 20 years experience in helping organizations to make this call that it makes a huge difference in showing dads they matter as first-class parents, that they are competent parents.
Dads absolutely appreciate a program that addresses their unique needs because it makes them a better parent. Moreover, it helps service providers to recruit and retain fathers in programs specifically designed to help them be better dads, which, ultimately, helps us to achieve our ultimate goal of improving the lives of children.
Isn’t that what parenting is all about?