Greetings, Father Factor readers!
To quote a song I Know You Got Soul from legendary 80s rap duo Eric B. & Rakim, Its been a long time, I shouldnt have left you but were back to regularly updating our blog after the holidays shifted everyones schedules around a bit.
Speaking of rap music, have you seen NFIs nifty new Daily Dad News section
? Its the latest feature on our homepage full of daily news bits about dads, families and related stories. One of the news items posted last week
focused on popular Atlanta rapper T.I. and how he balances his career with his family time. During an interview with MTV News, the rapper born Clifford Harris spoke proudly of being a dad but carefully stating that he has to still maintain an edge to his character due to the industrys hes in.
When I go home, that's who I am, what you see on the show. Now, what you're gonna hear through them records is when I hit the streets, when I'm out movin' and groovin' this is the person that must maintain this personality because it's a cold world out here, T.I. offered in the interview.
Now Ill admit that Ive listened to a bit of his T.I.s music in my spare time, and a lot of it isnt family friendly stuff. However, on his cable reality show with his wife, T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle,
T.I. reveals his softer side as a doting and devoted dad. T.I. and his wife have also given to charity, provided scholarships to the Boys and Girls Club and he even famously talked down a suicidal man from committing the fatal act.
The flip to T.I.'s good and giving side is that he raps in songs about his violent past as a former drug dealer nestled deeply "in the trap" what some in Atlanta refer to as the open air drug market. Since having found fame, T.I. has been long removed from the trappings of the streets but his music at times serves as the soundtrack for those still in that lifestyle.
T.I.'s jail record and federal gun charges also haunt him, being sent to prison just after performing a star turn in the Hollywood action flick Takers
alongside another beleaguered male entertainer Chris Brown. He was well on his way to mainstream stardom and chose to "hug the block" (as the kids say) instead of focusing on his budding acting career and music. T.I. has injected positive messages in some of his work, no less energetic and infectious as his normal fare.
The question is, which is really tougher? Is it tougher to still rap about guns and what you'll do to someone if they cross you in the streets? Or, is it tougher to rap about being a devoted husband and father, writing a few lines about how you went to see your sons play Pee Wee football? Is it tougher to rap about how you sold drugs or would it be tougher to drop a few verses about how you love coming home to your wife?
I don't happen to think T.I.'s a bad person, but I do think he's caught up in the hype of being tough when in actuality, he'd be seen as a greater figure if he promoted his family life more. Perhaps his television show is his pathway to doing so, but a man of T.I.'s responsibility and fame would appear tougher to me if he paused to "hit the streets" less often and revealed that there's nothing soft about being a father who loves the family life.
Welcome to the eighth installment of our 10-week podcast series, "Dads Playbook, featuring NFL quarterback Mark Brunell."
We know from research that children do best, on average, when they grow up with two, married parents. We also know that, on average, children with married parents have closer relationships with both their mothers and fathers than children whose parents are not married. In other words, the institution of marriage is pivotal in helping both moms and dads give their children what they need.
Let's hear what Mark has to say about how his marriage has helped him be the best dad he can be for this kids.Click here to download the podcast on Marks game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to making the most of your marriage.
I got coffee last week with a friend of mine – a woman who’s a few years older than me, married, and a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, including a 4-month-old. I love talking with this lady and hearing about her life. As a single working woman, I appreciate getting perspective on a different lifestyle than my own.
My friend asked me to tell her more about what I do with National Fatherhood Initiative
. As I explained our mission and work, she shared that she has recently experienced how much of a difference having an involved father makes for her as a mom.
She said her husband sometimes didn’t seem to know how to be involved with the kids when they first became parents – largely because his own father had not contributed much to housework or childcare – but now that they’re on kid #3, he’s really shown a lot of initiative. Especially during her difficult pregnancy, he had to do pretty much everything in the home and for the two children. His wife expressed how much she appreciated that he has cheerfully taken on extra responsibility.
My friend said that three great things have happened because her husband is helping more with the kids and the housework. #1 Their marriage is stronger. She is more attracted to him and has more energy to spend time with him. #2 Their home is more peaceful. She doesn’t have to constantly be giving directions – “Okay, this needs to be taken care of right now,” “Honey, can you brush the kids’ teeth?” – because he is noticing and doing things that need to be done. #3 The kids have a closer relationship with their dad. Instead of constantly going to Mom for what they want, they have started choosing Dad to help them or play with them.
I know, theoretically, that all of those things happen when dads are more involved. Everything my friend said was in synch with what NFI’s research
has shown. And, as a daughter, I know that having an involved dad made a huge impact in my life. But it was really neat to hear a first-hand perspective from a mom/wife on how much she values the support she has from her husband and how their family benefits from his involvement as a dad.Moms, how has your husband made a difference in your family by becoming more involved in helping around the house and taking care of the kids? What do you appreciate most about him?
From Renae Smith, NFI's Special Assistant to the President.
magazines recent cover article
titled "Marriage: What's It Good For?"
poses an interesting question. In an age when marriage has become much less important for both men and women to have companionship, security, professional success, respect, sex, or to conceive children, then who needs it?
The article, citing a new Time
/Pew Research Center poll, reported that 39% of people think that marriage is becoming obsolete. That seems a little contradictory to their strong opinions about the importance of marriage to parenting.
- 69% said its bad for society that more single women are having children without a male partner. (Only 4% said it was good.)
- 43% said its bad that more unmarried couples are raising children (compared to 10% who thought this trend was good.)
- 77% think its easier for married people to raise a family than single people.
People also think that the link between marriage and parenting is important for them personally.
- 90% of men think that being a good mother is an important quality for a good wife; 93% of women think that being a good father is an important part of being a good husband.
- 74% of men think that a good wife should put family before anything else; 82% of women think that a good husband should prioritize family first.
This is encouraging news, but forget, for a moment, about what the adults think is good for society or good for them personally. Lets talk about whats good for the ones who are affected most by the presence or absence of marriage children.
Research clearly shows that children who live with married parents fare better, on average, than children in other family structures on measures of child well-being academically, financially, emotionally, physically, and socially. Why? The data on the impact of father involvement on the well-being of children
holds part of the answer. The number one way to guarantee that a father will be consistently present in his childrens lives is for him to be married to their mother.
Jennifer Bracerass response in the Boston Herald
to Times question What is marriage good for? tells us that we have forgotten that marriage is not just about adult happiness, but also about the responsibilities of parenthood and preparing future generations to thrive and succeed.
Roland C. Warren, president of National Fatherhood Initiative, answers a similar question, "Are fathers necessary?"
, by saying ask the kids.
Before dismissing marriage as obsolete, we need to ask who needs it most. The answer: children. Childrens profound need for the daily, long-term presence of their own mothers and fathers in their lives will never become obsolete.
My father turned 50 at the beginning of this summer. He’s in great health, but I got a little worried when I noticed that he kept having doctor’s appointments recently. I asked him last week what was going on. He assured me that he was just getting his 50-year check-ups… physical, colonoscopy, prostate exam, cardio test, etc. And everything is fine!
I asked Dad why he thought it was important that he get these check-ups now that he’s 50. I expected him to say something about keeping up with his kids (there’s seven of us – the younger ones are still in high school or elementary school!) and being active for the many grandkids that we’ll be giving him in the future. (My dad figures that since he had seven kids, he should expect to have 49 grandkids. In his dreams, I say!)
I was a bit surprised by his answer to why he’s getting these check-ups. “So I can make sure I have many years to enjoy with your mom after you kids leave.” But when I thought about it, that makes sense. He is in good health now, so no cause for worry, and he is an active and involved father – going to my siblings’ sports games, helping them with homework, guiding them through the teen and young adult years. Parenting consumes an incredible amount of my mom and dad’s time and energy right now.
But eventually those responsibilities will be over. My youngest sisters will move out in about 10 years, and then it’ll be just Mom and Dad. Sure, they’ll always be there for us as adults. But they will only have to worry about taking care of themselves. Dad is taking steps today to make sure that those empty-nest years will be healthy and full of life, just like the parenting years. It will be a different kind of vibrant life, though – hopefully much calmer and less busy without a van-full of kids to cart around!
I’m glad that my dad is taking care of himself physically. But I also appreciate his motive for doing that – his commitment to Mom for life. Dad has every intention of staying healthy so he can enjoy a much-earned retirement and spend it with my mother. As their daughter, that gives me a great sense of security and a good example to follow.
This is a guest post from author Angu
s Nelson about a topic many fathers struggle with, but few talk about.
Can you imagine sitting across from your children telling them youd failed them and mommy because of the fantasies youd concocted while getting carpal tunnel in front of the blue glow of a computer monitor?
These are the things no man would ever wish to endure... yet, that doesnt stop us from contributing to a $13 billion dollar enterprise called porn.
Its everywhere isnt it? No matter where you go, youre susceptible to viewing images that stimulate a very real and human nature. Worse yet, were designed to respond to it. How are we supposed to resist something so very... normal? Well, thats the problem. There are people in the world that thrive on manipulating you to fill their wallet.
If youre addicted to porn, heres what I know about you: You dont like yourself. You struggle with relationships. You have issues with stress, shame, and/or false expectations placed upon yourself or by others.
Im here to tell you, YOURE NOT THE ONLY ONE.
Porn cost me everything. I lost my marriage, my business, my passion, and drive due to this corrosive habit. I know what its like to struggle and fail... time and time again. Porn is a crappy habit to kick.
But here's the deal - the real question is not, "How do I stop?" The gut level question is, "What am I willing to do to stop?"
How you answer that question will determine how successful you'll be at quitting.
Here are some steps to consider for recovery:1. TALK about it with someone you trust
The more you can talk about it, the more you can heal. Just like a mold, if its left in the dark it will grow. Get this poison out into the light and address your need for accountability, confession, and forgiveness of self. Whether it's a friend, mentor, Pastor, or addiction group, find what you're comfortable with.2. Cut it off/Stop the bleeding
You can get as extreme as trashing your TV or computer. You can install software that filters web surfing or blocks images completely. You can dump your cable. Only you know whats going to work for you... but you HAVE TO BE REALLY HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Stop procrastinating and turn it off.3. Pound your brain with good stuff
So many times, our self-worth is turned to mush in the abuses of porn. We feel bad, do bad, then feel worse only to do worse... a never-ending cycle. This is an opportunity for you to dive in headlong into reading self-help type books. Exclude the entertainment that only serves to aggravate you: news, talk radio, or horror flicks - KEEP POSITIVE STUFF ON THE BRAIN.4. Search out your spiritual center
For me, my Christian faith helped me understand what God says about me, and I let that marinate in my brain. Since God loves me, I should love myself. Find the spiritual discipline that will help you understand your worth.
Keep it easy and achievable until youre ready for the next level. Once youre ready for that, there are resources you can explore - the internet is filled with help you can access.
You can start here with my story: http://angusnelson.com/2010/08/18/porn-recovery-my-part/The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of National Fatherhood Initiative.
A few days ago, I asked my father-in-law how he met his wife. He told me that he was in the Air Force stationed in San Antonio and a buddy invited him to go to dance. His wife, who was in nursing school, attended the dance as well along with some of her friends. He saw her. They danced. They talked. And, he was smitten instantly and they started dating.
He also offered that soon thereafter she finished nursing school and moved back home to live with her parents in a little south Texas town called Mission. Since he was still stationed in San Antonio, he would make the long ride to see her every weekend that he could. Well, after a few trips to her home, he received a long letter from her father, who he called, the Old Spaniard. Interestingly, the letter was written in Castilian, which is formal Spanish and, although my father-in-law was fluent in Spanish, he needed help to translate it. In any case, he told me that the letterdespite its lengthasked him a simple question: What are your intentions with my daughter?
He told me that he was not surprised by the question and, actually, he expected to be asked it at some point. Therefore, he knew that he needed to answer this important question well and quickly if he was to continue to see his beloved. So, on his next trip to Mission, he was on a mission, and he sat down with the Old Spaniard and told him that he planned to marry his daughter. And, he did.
Since this conversation with my father-in-law, I have thought often about the power and the purpose of the Old Spaniards question and how it forced my father-in-law to be publicly accountable for his intentions. The Old Spaniard wanted to make sure early that my father-in-law didnt think that his daughter was an amusement park and he had a free ticket to ride. Nope, there were not going to be any unintended consequences because admission to his daughters heart came with a specific price the needed to be paid in advance.
Sadly, today too many fathers arent Old Spaniards and I believe that their daughters and their sons are worse off for it. Consequently, if you ask dating couples about their relationships and intentions, they tend to use terms like were hanging out, chillin, or just kickin it. Or, they will say that we are just friends with benefits. One of the problems is that these benefits too often turn into children who need good parents with firm intentions about raising them. Just imagine how few unintended pregnancies and unloved children there would be if more fathers asked the simple question that the Old Spaniard did.
Case and point, a few years ago, I counseled a couple who had gotten pregnant as college seniors. They were having big problems because the father was essentially abandoning his responsibilities and moving on with his life, while the mother was at risk to not graduate. Not surprisingly, the mother was furious.
As I began having conversations with them separately, it quickly became apparent that there was not, and never been, an Old Spaniard involved. You see, they were having premarital sex. However, she always believed that the father was the kind of guy who would marry her and build a family if they got pregnant, but this was never his intention. And, he thought that she was the kind of girl who would quickly get an abortion if she got pregnant, but this was never her intention. Now, they were both in a difficult long-term parenting relationship that neither wanted--whether they intended to have it or not.
In 1970, the buzz in Hollywood was about the romantic movie Love Story
. The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made stars and household names of the young actors Ryan ONeal and Ali MacGraw. Even if you havent seen the movie or dont have it in your Netflix queue, you have most likely heard the famous line that MacGraws character uttered early in the film: Love means never having to say youre sorry.
Now, I was preteen when I first heard this line and even then it didnt sound quite right. Granted, I didnt know much about relationships and romance but I had done enough wrong to those that I loved to detect a flaw in the logicdespite the poetry of the line. Sadly, I must dispute the words of philosopher William James who once said: Theres nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it. Unfortunately, given the power of pop culture and pop psychology, I think that many have embraced this absurd and convenient retort, especially those who have trouble with mea culpa.
I was reminded again of this line a few days ago when I came across a book by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas called: The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationship
. You may be familiar with Chapman from his many books on the five love languages where he asserts that we generally like to receive love in one of five ways: acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical touch. The problem is that we usually give love in the manner that we like to receive it and this may not be the right love language for one that we are seeking to love. In short, its the receiver, not the giver, who determines if an act is loving.
In any case, Chapman and Thomas have developed a similar model for the language of apology. They argue, rather convincingly, that an apology, just like giving love, is not really effective unless its expressed in terms appropriate for the receiver. Below are the languages of apology that they have discovered:
- Expressing regret: Im sorry may be the first words expressed in this apology language but you will need to clearly express what you are sorry for. For example, if you inappropriately spoke harshly to one of your kids and this is their language, you will need to be specific and say, I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice at you.
- Accepting responsibility: This apology begins with the words I was wrong and then explains what was wrong with your behavior. For example, you would say to your spouse that you were wrong for not planning well enough to get home in time to pick up your children from school.
- Making restitution: This apology language is focused on making it right. So, if you forget someones birthday, and this is his or her language, you cant just say that youre sorry. With a person who speaks this language, what they really want to know is Do you still love me? and making restitution helps assure them that you do.
- Genuinely expressing a desire to change your behavior: This apology needs to be linked to a plan to keep the behavior from occurring again. If this is a loved ones apology language, in their world, apologizing without a sincere desire and demonstrated behavior to change is not apologizing at all.
- Requesting forgiveness: For someone who speaks this language, the words Will you please forgive me? are critical. In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask to be forgiven.
I really believe that Chapman and Thomas are on to something here. A love story without apologies only happens in the movies. Indeed, love means always
having to say you are sorry. Ironically, the title of the Love Story
theme song, which won an Academy Award for best musical score, is Where Do I Begin? If you want to restore and/or maintain relationships with your spouse, the mother of your child, or your children, I suggest that you begin with an apology.
In Roland's latest Washington Times column
, he explores the idea that "a good father helps his daughter find her prince without kissing all the frogs" and how this is played out in Disney's upcoming movie, "The Princess and The Frog
He also points out the father factor in the President and First Lady Obama's strong marriage.You can read the full article here!
Fathers have long complained that the post-divorce custody decision was slanted against them because they spent (or appeared to spend) more time working than actively parenting. In this recession, however, it seems that some working moms are experiencing the same phenomenon. A Working Mother magazine article
profiled some working mothers who did not get as much custody as they had expected, and the New York Times
followed up with another viewpoint.
Obviously custody battles often produce Pyrrhic victories, and one wishes they never had to occur. However, to make a fair decision about co-parenting responsibilities, judges need to consider a wide variety of factors about both mom and dad. Having moms get less custody time in some situations does not, by definition, mean the wrong decision has been made. What do you think?