While you're tracking your March Madness bracket this week, be sure you have the details of March Dadness. We started our bracket with the Sweet 16: Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear and are now moving on to the next round with the "Elite 8". Today we have eight activities every child needs to experience with his or her dad.
At NFI, we say "the smallest moments make the biggest impact in a child's life." While not all "the smallest moments" HAVE to include an activity; in most cases, shared experiences can create times for lasting memories.
Here are eight activities you can use to create memories with your child this week.
- Teach Your Child a Sport: Take an afternoon to teach your son or daughter how to dribble a basketball. If your child can already do a crossover, consider teaching the rules of the game or studying the dimensions of the court. Go on, you don't have to be a pro player, practice that jumper with your child. Remember, the important thing is you're spending time together. Not at all a fan of basketball? Well, you're probably not the greatest dad you can be. However, replace basketball with the sport you like. Play catch with a baseball or better yet, what better reason to get on the golf course than to teach your child about the game?!
- Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike: From first learning to ride or taking the training wheels off, riding a bike is a big deal for kids. I'm thinking now of my three-year-old riding her tricycle all over our house. She gets the biggest kick out of it—especially if she knows I'm watching and interested. Her whole demeanor changes as she pedals. Her eyes light up and her chin raises as she glides through our living room and stops crashing into the kitchen. This may sound like a simple thing—and it is—but be sure not to miss it.
- Go Camping with Your Child: Camping is a great way to connect with your family. Whether it means tent and fire under the stars or on the living room floor with covers and pillows every afternoon like at our house. Use the time to disconnect from work at the office (or around the house) and connect with your child.
- Take Your Child on a Date: Set aside a couple of hours to spend just you and your child. This can be as planned or as cheap as you make it. Go to the playground, stop for lunch or simply take a walk and talk in your neighorhood. By doing this, you connect with your child on a deeper, more meaningful level. If you have more than one child; simply schedule various times for each child. This may not be a weekly occurance for your family. However, it's an invaluable tool that can show how much you cherish your children. Trust me, with two daughters, I speak from experience, this isn't easy to make time for. I don't do this as often as a should, but when I do it, it's some of the most valuable time I spend with my girls.
- Volunteer with Your Child: Whether you're serving at your church or helping at a local homeless shelter, there's great opportunities for you and your child to give your time to a good cause together. Your child will enjoy spending time with you and you'll be setting a good example for a lifelong habit of service.
- Read with Your Child: Your child is never too young (or too old) to read with you. From reading Llama Llama Red Pajama for the hundreth time or The Hobbit with your teen, great books (and the conversion that happens during this time) will last you a lifetime. Make it a regular habit to read aloud with your child.
- Take Your Child to the Bank: Remember real banks? Yeah, I barely can either. While this activity may seem odd. We mention it here because it's a great oppotunity to create a memory with your child. How often do you open a bank account in life? I'm guessing—not very often. Depending on the age of your child, this could be a great time of connecting. The experience of opening an account can be awesome. But also, the whole process of teaching your child about money and responsibility is really where we're going with this idea—an ongoing opportunity of connection! It's a connection point that you and your child will not forget. I remember my mother taking me into our local bank branch when I was young. I haven't forgotten the formal building, the leather chairs, the large desks and me signing my life away for my first acount! The excitement was intense—to see money in my account was unforgettable. Well, perhaps I haven't forgetten about having money in my account because that was the last time I would have money in my account! But I digress...on to the last activity ideas...
- One Last Activity Idea: (for sons) Teach your son to tie a tie and/or shave: Boys need their dads to coach them through these "rites of passage" in manhood. Heck, every time I shave, my daughters "shave" with me. Although time consuming, I often remind myself that there will come a time when my girls no longer care about their dad shaving!
(for daughters): Go dancing. Whether it's a silly dance in the living room or a daddy-daughter dance held locally, girls need their dad to show them how a guy treats a girl.
Question: What would you add to this list?
March Madness officially starts today. While you're flipping channels at home or online to see how your bracket's doing, be sure your using #MarchDadness for all your social media posts. Today, we start our official tournament of tips and tools for fathering. We begin our bracket with the Sweet 16!
The words a coach says from the bench, in time-outs, and pre-game huddles all have a big impact on how players perform on the court. Have you watch a game where the players can't do anything right in the first half; only to come out in the second half and play like champions? Odds are good that the coach gave a great half-time speech and somehow communicated well what his team was doing well and not so well.
In the same way, what you say to your children each day has influence on your child—for good or for ill. Your child should receive continual encouragement and affirmation. Don't assume that hearing praise from teachers, Mom or other people is enough—your child needs to hear from YOU. You can live out and model love all you want, but saying the words below are crucial to helping your child develop confidence and character. It's up to you, dad.
Be intentional about saying these affirming phrases frequently to your kids. I would challenge you to stop, get your child's attention, look them in the eye and tell them convincingly the following phrases. These aren't in order of importance.
- I'm so proud to be your dad!
- Good job!
- You are beautiful/handsome.
- You are so sweet/smart/brave/creative.
- It's wonderful how you demonstrate kindness/thoughtfulness/compassion.
- Thank you for helping.
- You are very good at _______.
- I believe in you.
- You can do it!
- No matter what happens, you can always come to me.
- I will always be there for you, no matter what.
- You are unique and special.
- I'm glad you are my son/daughter.
- I appreciate you so much.
- The day you were born was one of the best days of my life.
- I LOVE YOU!
Question: What's missing from our list?
Happy Throwback Thursday! Today's reminder: Take time to be a dad! Enjoy!
Question: How will you "take time to be a dad" today?
King, Jackson, Howard, Rose, Webber…these names conjure up lessons and memories for the sports fan—lessons in greatness and defeat. The names collectlively were "The Fab Five," which was the nickname for the 1991 University of Michigan men's basketball team. They were and still are considered by most to be "the greatest class ever recruited." The team reached two championship games in the early nineties while freshmen and sophomores, which was unheard of before they did it.
Perhaps bigger than the team playing in championships, they brought the intimidation factor to college sports in a way not previously seen. They were known as a team who changed the style of basketball. They wore their shorts longer than everyone else and wore black shoes with black socks.
I must confess as a 12- or 13-year-old playing public school basketball, our all-caucasian team in the mountains of Tennessee intentionally stole the Fab Five's style. Yes, our game suits may have been purple and white and said “Eagles” instead the blue and gold of the “Wolverines”; but you couldn’t tell us we weren’t cool enough to wear our shorts below our knees, with black Nike shoes and black socks purchased by our moms.
This is the magic of March Madness: whether you're a sports fanatic, proudly wearing your team colors and never missing a game, or prefer to spend your time doing other things, there's memories wrapped up in these college basketball games. If you don’t enjoy the games, perhaps your child will. The games can be a great time to connect with your kids and family.
As a dad, you're the coach of your own team and your "players" are looking to you for the strategies and techniques that will help them win in the game. This month, as TVs, computers and mobile devices across the nation tune to the NCAA college basketball tournament, we're getting in on "March Madness" too by bringing you March Dadness!
Tips for Coach Dad
As you're filling out your bracket and gearing up for the tournament, use our bracket of tips and strategies to build your game plan for fathering.
During the month of March, our Dad Email will follow the March Madness tournament schedule:
- Sweet Sixteen: 16 Words Your Kid Should Hear from You
- Elite Eight: 8 Activities Your Kid Should Experience with You
- Final Four: 4 Character Traits Your Kid Should Get from You
- The Championship: The Legacy You Pass to Your Kid
Tools for Coach Dad
Dad Email and The Father Factor Blog: Stay tuned to The Father Factor Blog for stories related to the college basketball season, from stories and memories to tips, tools and advice related to our kids and family.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine: We'll be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine with our opinions and pics about March Madness. Whether you’re watching the game alone with a bucket of wings or with your child teaching her how to shoot free-throws, be sure to connect with us using #MarchDadness as the hashtag.
Speaking of bracketology, you can join National Fatherhood Initiative’s Fantasy League by signing up today (Group Password: Fatherhood).
Visit our Fatherhood March Dadness Page for more information.
Let the 'Dadness' begin!
Question: Which team do you think will win it all this year?
Aside from all the great stories that come out of the Super Bowl from each team, let's talk the important stuff — the commercials! Since my teams are rarely in the big game, the commercials are my favorite part of the night. That said, if you follow me on twitter you know I found the Tide/Joe Montana commercial
about "no stain being sacred" to be my favorite of the night.
While I'm certain my "fatherhood radar" is working at peak levels considering my working at NFI; I'm finding it more and more interesting how a brand not only spends it's money to be funny and memorable, but how much a brand perpetuates stereotypes of fatherhood in the process.
Here are four examples of commercials from the Super Bowl that are funny and/or thought-provoking, but most of them simply leave us wanting more from brands and fatherhood.
The Protective Dad | Got Milk?
This commercial was probably one of the stronger showings of fatherhood I witnessed with the Superdome lights going out! Depicting a dad who will do anything and that nothing is more important than his girls' milk for breakfast. Nice work!
The Fashionista Dad | Doritos
Right before this dad's about to say "no" to his daughter about having tea time because he's going out to play football with his friends, he realizes she has Doritos. He's all in. Cute and funny, but still conveys the stereotype that a dad only cares about himself and is the unresponsible parent. Place a mom in the role of the father in this commercial and see if Doritos is in business by today.
The Servant Dad | Jeep | USO
This Jeep | USO commercial shows the sacrifice of all military families and does well to include dads. Nice work Jeep | USO and Oprah!
The Avoidance Dad | Kia "Space Babies"
While I am no stranger to making up answers as a dad, and I also laughed at this commercial when it aired live, it's funny but not. When one considers that what we celebrate we replicate -- do we really want to celebrate a dad making up where babies come from and avoiding the question until his son gets the info somewhere else? What's easier to say, a story about "space babies" or that babies come from a man and woman who are married to each other, like the characters in the commercial? Just a thought...
How do you think dads were portrayed in the Super Bowl commercials?
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photo credit: marsmet481
The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). If you would like to blog for us, email here.
If you’re as avid of a sports fan as I am, you undoubtedly heard that no one will become enshrined this year in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. The uproar among a large segment of the sports community has been interesting to say the least. In fact, it’s been rather myopic.
Cries that the voting system is broken have been emanating from the mouths of sports pundits since the voting results were announced on January 9th, loudly enough to make someone think that the baseball world has been turned upside down by this “travesty.” Moreover, it could lead a reasonable person to wonder whether this “no vote” has ever occurred. The reality is that this isn’t the first time the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA)—the body of well-known and respected writers on America’s pastime that gives the thumbs up or down on inductions into the hall—has voted to not allow anyone in. Indeed, it’s happened no less than 8 times (the most recent time in 1996). But in our sound-bite world with its focus on the present to the exclusion of history (and its lessons), these pundits of the diamond have no doubt poisoned the well for so many Americans, especially young ones, who love the game.
From a historical perspective, I can think of no other game that better symbolizes the joy that fathers and children experience together within the context of sports. Images come readily to mind of fathers and sons and fathers and daughters playing catch, of children opening Christmas presents to find a brand new glove (and its wonderful smell), and of families spending an afternoon or evening at the ballpark eating hotdogs, nachos, and burgers. Some of the fondest memories I have of high school and college include cramming into the car with my buddies and driving to Texas Rangers games and sitting in the outfield for less than $10 a ticket. I didn’t care whether the Rangers won or lost (primarily because they usually lost) because I was there to watch the stars. (One of my fondest memories is of Bo Jackson hammering a fastball from Nolan Ryan that landed just a few rows out of my reach.)
Coming back down to earth for a moment, if you’re not familiar with the specifics of the vote, there were several former players eligible for induction for the first time who are, based on almost every statistical measure associated with their primary role as a player, some of the greatest to play the game. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mike Piazza were chief among them. (Other lesser-known but fantastic players eligible for the first time included Craig Biggio who, incidentally, received the highest number of votes.) Players on previous ballots included Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGuire, and Jack Morris. Does anything jump out at you about most of these players? If you said that most of them have been accused or admitted (in the case of Bonds) to using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), you win a prize.
Most of the players on this year’s ballot played in the “steroid era.” That fact alone doomed their candidacies this year and, possibly, forever. To qualify for induction, at least 75 percent of voters must select a former player for induction. None of the players associated with steroid use even came close despite their gaudy numbers. (Clemens at 37.6 percent received the most votes of these players). Players remain on the ballot for 15 years, a fairly short window in which to gain induction. With so many of these players’ vote totals being so low, there’s a possibility that they’ll never get their busts into Cooperstown.
As I watched a roundtable of BBWAA voters on ESPN discuss the results of the vote and its implications, one of the reporters said that he voted for many of the purported steroid users because “I vote in context.” He explained that because these specific candidates played in an era when many players (allegedly) used PEDs, voters shouldn’t discriminate against them. After all, he said, everyone was using them. He then proceeded to support his argument by drawing on a standard practice of many voters throughout the years—vote for players based on the era in which they played and not across eras (i.e. comparing the numbers from a player in 1920 with one in 1980 given changes in the game over that time). Moreover, the widespread use of PEDs created a “level playing field”; consequently, the numbers of these great players speak for themselves. Interesting as this argument might be, it misses the broader issue.
These players are accused—rightly or wrongly—of cheating, pure and simple. While most of these players haven’t been convicted in a court of law, they certainly have in the court of public opinion. (And, unfortunately, this era has painted such a broad stroke of PED use that some players who might be deserving of induction might not get in as a result of playing during that time.) That’s why so many voters didn’t vote for Bonds, arguably the best hitter in baseball history, and Clemens, arguably the best pitcher. Regardless of era, cheaters have not been allowed into the hall. (Do I hear a “Pete Rose” or “Shoeless Joe Jackson?”)
Herein lies the lesson for fathers. (Yes. I finally got around to it.) Fair play is baseball’s hallmark—an immutable law. That’s why cheaters, whether convicted or not in a court of law, don’t get into the hall. I surmise that many voters would rather keep a possible cheater out of the hall and let him into it later after his name is cleared than to allow a possible cheater into the hall and later learn that he did, in fact, cheat. Fair play is baseball’s moral center. As its moral center, it spans the chasm of time. It does not change regardless of era. As fathers, we must give our children a moral center to guide their behavior—a set of immutable laws that don’t change with the seasons. While the specific morals of this center might differ from culture to culture, the fact remains that giving it to our children is our most critical role as fathers. Fair play is one moral that I have tried to imbue in my daughters. Is it one of yours?
Today, you probably know Tony Dungy as the anaylst on NBC's "Football Night in America". But Dungy retired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after making the playoffs in each of his last 10 seasons (7 with Indianapolis; 3 with Tampa Bay). With his win of Super Bowl XLI, he became the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl as the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears.
In 2002, National Fatherhood Initiative awarded Tony with a Fatherhood Award in San Antonio, TX. Long before Tony won the Super Bowl, NFI knew he was a Super Dad. Watch this clip of Tony receiving his 2002 Fatherhood Award and let Tony's words inspire and challenge you about the importance of being an involved dad today.
Tony’s recalls upon receving the Fatherhood Award:
In 1997 I got an award for NFL Coach of the Year. Five years later, receiving this award is really no comparison. This certainly means a lot more to me and it’s quite a honor and so humbling to be here with other dads recognized tonight. Watching these ads (tv ads were shown at the event) it's touching and every single one you can relate to probably the one for me that I relate to the most is the first one “Catch” with the little boy playing ball because we have a 10-year-old and yesterday he wanted to play baseball. We’re up in Indianapolis, we’re moving up there, and we don’t have all of our stuff, we had to go find a stick and we made a little taped-up ball and he beat me 23-2 with a stick ball.
So as we were talking about coming down here, I said (to my son), “What’s the most fun you’ve ever had with me?” And he’s got to do a lot of things, he’s been on the floor of the Metrodome, he’s went with me to the NFC Championship Game and stayed in the Ritz-Carlton and held my cord on the sideline, he’s been to Hawaii to the Pro Bowl and held my cord on the sideline, and he said, “Well, the most fun I’ve had was beating you in stickball!” And his reasoning was something that really touches this, I said “How can that be the most fun with all the things you’ve done?” And he said, “Because that’s what we did TODAY!” That’s what it is in a kids’ mind, it’s not what you do, it’s if you’re there to do it with them and I would encourage you to be there to do things with your kids.
Visit our Fatherhood Award page to see a full list of Fatherhood Award recipients through the years.
On this Friday, unlike any other time in history, the wide world of sports and the world of fathers comes together!
Dove®Men+Care® and Dad 2.0 Summit are partnering for "The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood with Doug Flutie" and we couldn't be more excited to be a part of an event that will advance the public dialogue on responsible fatherhood.
As Dad 2.0 writes on a recent blog post:
"For football fans, you know Doug Flutie from the Hail Mary pass that beat Miami on national TV in 1984. You know about his subsequent 20-year career in the NFL, CFL, and USFL, despite the prevailing wisdom that he was too short to make it as a pro quarterback. You know about Flutie Flakes. What you may not know, however, is that Doug’s son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, and since 2000 the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation has raised more than $13 million to help improve the quality of life for people and families affected by autism. Doug is also part of Dove®Men+Care®’s latest “Journey to Comfort” campaign, which touches on fatherhood as never before. He’s amassed a lot of specific insights about how fatherhood changed his life, as it changes every man’s. And on October 26, he’s going to sit down with us and talk about them."
National Fatherhood Initiative has been invited to “The Play-By-Play on Fatherhood,” along with several dads who will explore, promote and champion fatherhood.
Join National Fatherhood Initiative and many other dads for the live-streamed broadcast on the Dove®Men+Care®Facebook page on Friday, October 26, at 10am Eastern. During the live-stream connect with the host and attendees by commenting on Facebook and tweeting to @DoveMenCare, @dad2summit and of course @TheFatherFactor!
The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). If you would like to blog for us, email here.
As we hurtle into yet another post-season for baseball that, once again, involves the love ‘em or hate ‘em New York Yankees, I reflect on America’s pastime and the toll it can take on the players and managers who are fathers.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that loves a juicy story about fallen athletes. It can be hard to find an uplifting story about athletes who rise above the stresses and temptations of their sport, including those that affect the ability of athletes to be involved, responsible, committed fathers.
But look no further than Joe Girardi who, by all accounts, has been a fantastic father and husband during a playing and managing career that spans some 25 years. What has accounted for Joe’s success at home and on the field? A loving father and mother who were committed to their children and each other.
According to Gay Talese in “The Crisis Manager,” an article that appears in a recent edition of The New Yorker magazine, Joe grew up near Chicago, the son and grandson of bricklayers. He learned about competitiveness and self-discipline from his father. He learned about perseverance from his mother who battled cancer during Joe’s teenage and early adult years, only to eventually succumb to it when Joe was in college. Each of these qualities are essential to managerial success in a sport that has baseball’s ups and downs.
What struck me most in reading this article is what Joe said to Talese as they drove to visit Joe’s father, Gerald, who, now stricken with Alzheimer’s, lives in a nursing home. “My dad was always there for me…He’s the one who played catch with me, he was the one who took me to Cubs games where I could see my favorite players, like Ron Santo and José Cardenal, in action.”
The time that fathers spend with their children is so precious, and so valuable. Something for all of us dads to bear in mind as we, too, fight the temptations and stresses that our careers and lives place before and upon us.
Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
National Fatherhood Initiative recently launched March Dadness: Tips for Coach Dad on Leading Your Team to Victory, inspired, of course, by the March Madness NCAA tournament. Here at the NFI office, we'll be turning in our brackets for the office pool. At home, my dad and three brothers are finalizing their brackets. I asked my dad (father of seven) to share some fathering perspectives on this annual event. Here's his thoughts...
March Madness is one of our favorite times of the sports year because it affords three weeks of friendly competition between my three sons and I. We're a basketball family - all my kids play it, I coach it, and we follow it on ESPN. From the Jeremy Lin sensation to Duke's buzzer beater over North Carolina to sitting in the stands watching my ten-year-old twin daughters compete on Saturday afternoons, to say we like basketball would be an understatement. This March, like every other March, we'll be filling out brackets and tracking teams en route to the Final Four and National Championship.
As a dad, I've found this to be one of the ways to connect with my kids in a friendly, competitive environment. This works for both the teenagers still at home and those who are far from home - my 23-year-old son serving in the Air Force in Utah emails his bracket to us and calls home to join the pre- and post-game commentary. My sons are pretty competitive when it comes to researching teams as they fill out their bracket. The Monday morning USA Today
newspaper with the full section on March Madness is passed around among the boys. My daughters, on the other hand, are more interested in watching the teams they like than in the bracket competition and will join their brothers around the TV at game time. (My 18-year-old daughter, however, did secretly make her own bracket last year.)
The lesson I've learned through this is that opportunities to have positive experiences with my kids, instead of always being in the mode of correcting attitudes and behavior, are valuable. Finding common interests and spending time together is important to building relationships, communicating love and value, and balancing the times when discipline and correction are required as a parent. It doesn't have to be basketball to successfully build an enjoyable experience between father and sons and daughters, but events that can be looked forward to and reoccur on a periodic basis (like March Madness) become a lifelong memory and something that both dads and kids can anticipate.Dads, if you want to institute a family March Madness competition with your kids, download a bracket here. Sign-up for the Dad E-mail to get our latest March Dadness updates!