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As We Anticipate the Oscars, Help Choose the 2011 Fatherhood Movie of the Year!

The entertainment industry is eagerly looking forward to the presentation of the Oscars at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday. Meanwhile, National Fatherhood Initiative is looking to you to help us select the 2011 "Fatherhood Movie of Year." As part of our efforts to shine a light on cultural messages that highlight the unique and irreplaceable role that fathers play in their children's lives, we've nominated four movies and are asking the public to vote for the one that best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.

The four nominees are Courageous (Sherwood Pictures), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.), Moneyball (Sony Pictures), and We Bought a Zoo (Twentieth Century Fox). Visit NFI’s official Facebook page to watch the trailers of these four films and vote for your favorite!

Courageous (directed by Alex Kendrick; starring Alex Kendrick and Ken Bevel) tells the story of four police officers struggling with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers. When a tragedy strikes close to home, together they make a decision that will change all of their lives.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (directed by Stephen Daldry; starring Tom Hanks and Thomas Horn) tells the story of a nine-year-old who searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his beloved father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Moneyball (directed by Bennett Miller; starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill) tells the true story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. A divorced father, Beane must balance his love for the game with his love of his daughter.

We Bought a Zoo (directed by Cameron Crowe; starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson) tells the story of a widowed father who moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo. Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo shows how a father learns to embrace his new life with his two children.

Given the power of film in shaping public perceptions, NFI applauds these four films for their efforts to depict fatherhood in a positive and powerful way. Tell us which one you think deserves to be recognized as "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" 2011 by voting on our Facebook page everyday until Sunday, February 26 (the day of the Oscars).

Was Tommy Jordan Out Of Line For Shooting His Daughter’s Laptop?

If you haven’t seen the video of North Carolina dad Tommy Jordan and his gun-toting tirade, the reaction to his daughter’s disrespectful words may seem a bit over the top. However, the IT company owner and proud father has become a YouTube sensation, amassing a whopping 26 million views in just over a week. If you’re in need of a back-story, Mr. Jordan caught wind of his daughter making slanderous remarks about her parents on Facebook.

After reading the unflattering comments left by his daughter, Hannah, on her Facebook wall, Jordan went into his own eight-minute video rant about the things he and his wife have provided for their child, and ended off the video in explosive fashion. Jordan unloads eight shots from a .45 pistol into the laptop, which reportedly gained the man a visit from the authorities, including Child Protective Services. Unapologetic about his reaction and not facing charges, Jordan says the family is closer as a result of what happened although he’s faced a bunch of tough criticism.

On the other side of the negative remarks however, Jordan has amassed a few fans of his version of tough love. While I can appreciate the sentiment behind Jordan’s actions, the use of the gun is where I hop off the train. I can’t endorse using violence to hammer home a point. In a series of news polls done on almost every major media outlet, voters are mostly in approval of Jordan’s actions. Even Dr. Phil himself said he was entertained more than appalled by the video clip.

Disciplining your child is a necessary thing for fathers to administer, although I’d argue that it’s an often difficult thing to do correctly. As children grow older, they have the potential to challenge their parents’ patience in a variety of ways. I don’t imagine I’d ever resort to shooting my daughter’s electronic equipment in order to get her to follow my lead. I hope that my words, steady presence and loving devotion is enough to make sure my child honors not only her parents, but also herself.

How about you, Father Factor readers? What do you think about what Tommy Jordan did? Tell us in the comments below or tweet to us at @FatherFactor. You can also comment on our Facebook page by following this link.

A Hope For Peace Between Whitney Houston And Her Father

Over the weekend, the music world was shaken by the death of celebrated pop and R&B diva Whitney Houston on the eve of the Grammys. I still can’t believe she’s gone, especially after reading she was on her way to performing and recording again. A lot of speculation about Whitney’s death has swirled about, and I’ve largely chosen to ignore what I’ve been hearing simply because I prefer to remember her as being on a triumphant comeback trail.

Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston, a renowned singer in her own right, and Whitney’s famous cousin Dionne Warwick were typically the only family members fans heard about. Little was ever said about Whitney’s late father, John. However, I searched the Web and found that Whitney and John had a much closer relationship than what has been reported in the past. In this undated video clip, Whitney is shown singing to her father on her birthday during a concert sometime in the 1990s. It’s clear in the clip that she loved her father, although alleged legal troubles between the two became tabloid fodder.

I won’t bore you with the details over owed money and estates, but rather focus on the fact that at one point, Whitney’s father acted as her mentor and business manager. John even created a company, John Houston Enterprises, to help his daughter maintain her business affairs. The same firm later negotiated a record $100 million dollar, six-album deal in 2001 for Whitney, one of the largest contracts on record.

Whitney was never candid about she and her father’s relationship, but did defend her dad by saying that a $100 million dollar lawsuit in 2002 brought by John Houston Enterprises had nothing to do with him, but rather, a greedy business associate of her father. John, who suffered from diabetes and heart troubles, passed away a year later during the proceedings, and the business partner didn’t win one cent.

I came across a 2002 MTV interview featuring Whitney Houston’s spokesperson Nancy Seltzer that touched on the lawsuit. “When I spoke to John a week and a half ago, he said, 'It's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I couldn't do anything like that, and I didn't,'' Seltzer said. ''It's sad. It's two people who love each other who seem to be dragged into this public situation, which is neither of their own doing.”

It doesn’t comfort me knowing that all her life Whitney Houston has had to live under the glare of the public eye. She never seemed to adjust to fame and money; she was just a girl from New Jersey with a dream, undeniable beauty and a voice from heaven. What does comfort me, is that a genuine love between a father and his daughter existed, no matter the forces that tried to tear them apart.

Reports have come out that Whitney will be laid to rest this weekend in New Jersey, right next to her father as she requested a time ago. Perhaps now, her troubled soul can rest comfortably next to the man who gave her life and love, just as it should be.

A Father’s Last Wish

Childbirth is, without doubt, the most miraculous event of a father’s life. Whether he’s a new dad or experienced papa, being part of helping to create a new life is a tremendous gift and honor for any father. Unfortunately, Mark Aulger won’t be able to experience any more births or spend time with his children as they grow. However, Mr. Aulger was able to see his youngest child come into the world just as his own life was coming to an end.

Texas parents Mark and Diane Aulger had been raising a family of four together while awaiting the birth of the fifth baby. Mark was diagnosed with colon cancer last April, with his health reaching critical levels in last month. After a final diagnosis gave Mark just days to live, the father asked for one last wish to hold his baby. Bravely, his wife underwent C-section surgery in order to honor her husband’s wishes. Baby Savannah was born on January 18, right next to her father.

Weak from the cancer, Mark was only able to hold his child for moments at a time. Just days later, Mark slipped into a coma and eventually passed away on January 23 – fighting for as long as he could to see his baby girl. Mark and Diane’s devotion to each other is touching and while saddened, the family is determined to keep dad’s name alive. “We're living day-to-day as if dad's still here," Diane said. "We know dad is here with us. They [the children] talk to dad. Mark was a very funny, funny dad.”

It is amazing to witness the strength of Diane Aulger, as she has to raise five children on her own. It is equally touching to see that as a father, Mark Aulger left behind a legacy worth upholding. That his family won’t dare forget the man and what he represented speaks volumes to what he meant as a father to his family. One photo (which can be seen here) shows the entire family surrounding their dad as baby Savannah rests on his chest. The photo perfectly captures how much they loved the man.

While his family may wish Mark was still here to continue his duties as a dad, they made his untimely passing as comfortable as they could. Giving Mark his dying wish, the Aulgers can rest well knowing they will continue honor him the best way they know how.

‘Eagle Daddy’ Should Change His Name To ‘Bad Daddy’

Earlier this week, I came across a news item that I am still trying to process days later. A four-year old boy Chinese boy by the name of Ho Yide was videotaped by his father (only known as ‘eagle daddy’) as the child shivered in freezing temperatures in his underwear on Chinese New Year’s Eve. I defy anyone to look at young Ho’s face and not feel sadness for the boy.

The eagle daddy’s assistant referred to this cruel treatment as “training” for the boy as the father claimed was born several months prematurely. Eagle Daddy says he’s making Ho endure these trials in order to build up his physical and mental toughness. To make matters worse, Ho’s mother can be heard laughing in the background as he cries out from doing push-ups in the cold.

To the father, you should be ashamed of yourself. Not only are you crushing your boy’s emotional spirits, you also put him at risk for hypothermia and other illnesses as well. What father would take pride in toughening up their son by making them crawl around on a snow-covered New York street? Even on its cleanest day, no child should be walking on a city street without shoes and socks, no matter the weather. Take into account vermin and trash and whatever else hidden under the snow, it just makes the instance more heinous.

Eagle Daddy seems to care less what the outside world thinks. He’s already relayed a defiant message via his assistant that he ‘doesn’t care what others say.’ As his father, he has a right to voice to the public that what he does with his child is not our business. However, filming your son crying in the cold as part of a regimen to improve the child’s heath makes Eagle Daddy an unfit father.

I happen to think Eagle Daddy is a bad daddy. This is my opinion and one I’m sticking to although I doubt few will disagree with that assertion. This is not fathering, this is pure physical torture. Looking at the body of evidence, what of Ho Yide’s despair caught on tape displays the making of a good father? How does physical and mental abuse inspire greatness in a growing child?

I hope that the Eagle Daddy stops the abuse and realizes he’s doing far more harm than good. For now, I pray that Ho doesn’t grow into becoming a broken young man due to the cruel iron hand of his father. Ho Yide deserves better treatment from his father. It is truly too bad his daddy doesn’t see the error in his actions.

The Tie That Binds

I think most folks who know me wouldn’t dare commend me on my sartorial tastes although I’ve been known to look nice in a suit or two. I always admired watching my grandparents go out on their dates when I was much younger; my grandfather loved nothing more than a crisp button-down shirt and an expertly matched tie. I quietly envied his ability to always look sharp no matter the occasion.

I didn’t know how to put on a tie when I was a kid. For church, my mother gave me a array of clip-on ties to choose from and for a while, that’s all I knew. I didn’t learn how to wear a necktie until I was 22 years of age. I can even tell you the month. It was June of 1995. It was the day of my very first official job interview to work at a mailroom for a large corporation in Washington. I thought that it was time I graduated from clip-on ties to a real one. All of my friends were just as clueless as I was about ties, so I called my father in a long shot to ask for his help.

My father and I, to this day, are not close. We were especially estranged at this point although he lived just 2 miles north from me. I took a chance calling him, after so many disappointing days and nights he would promise to see me and wouldn’t show up. The pain of his absence and the longing for my father still exists today. However on a hot summer day, my father heeded my call.

He came to my mother’s house, beaming. I wanted my dad to be proud of me. I tried to tie the necktie myself, making a mockery of it. My father, with his big laugh, stood in front of me and said, “son, let me show you what to do.” He doesn’t know this but it was like being five years old again. When I was in kindergarten, my dad took me to see the classic Sci-Fi film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. To this day, I’ll watch the movie and I’ll pretend I’m at the Landover Drive-In in his big sedan watching it with him.

Much like that moment, I hold on to the tie lesson because it was one of the few times my father showed he cared about me. He actually was close enough for me to hug him but I feared I would push him away with my emotions. I just held all of those feelings of wanting my dad deep inside. The lesson was a painful reminder of all the things I wish he taught me as a boy that I missed out on in the 17 years he left our home.

It’s been nearly 17 years since that moment. 17 years I’ve been putting on my necktie the same way my dad showed me on that day. I refuse to learn any other method for the most selfish reason in the world. It’s the only thing tangible of my father I have, the only proof that at some point my father may have actually loved me.

It doesn’t hurt as much these days to know all I have are brief memories and small moments with my father. I’m slowly trying to heal from the absence although I’m not out of the woods yet. For now, I find satisfaction in putting on my tie and knowing my dad taught me a skill that I’ll value for life.

2012 Super Bowl Ads Still Not Ready To Grow Up

There are two reasons people watch the Super Bowl every year. Mainly, the championship game is the centerpiece for diehard football fans. For those casual watchers of the sport, the expensive and typically entertaining commercials in between happen to be the draw.

Over the years, some companies have pandered to the mostly male audience with images that gratuitously cater to the oversexed nature of our world today. However, some noble attempts were made to steer away from the typical fare offered on Super Bowl Sunday.

Ronald McDonald House Charities offered a moving commercial centered on a family rallying around a young boy who is suffering with leukemia. With images flashing of the boy’s family members all showing support as he goes through therapy in images, the clip ends sweetly with the young man backed with love, as he should be.

Another great commercial was that of perennial tough guy Clint Eastwood and his classic gruff voice talking about America’s resolve in tough times for Chrysler Auto. One of the longer commercials at just over two minutes, the impression left behind is lasting.

A nice change of pace was Kia Optima’s “Dream Car For Real Life” spot in where the mythical sandman comes in to sprinkle dream dust on a sleeping couple. While the figure douses the wife just a dab of the magic powder, an accident has the sandman dumping half a bucket on her husband. The result: the husband’s macho dreams are amped up to ridiculous levels while his wife’s dreams are sweet and simple. A neat twist was at the end; the husband breaks past his dreams to crash his wife’s serene party and whisks her off into the sunset – all while driving the Kia, naturally.

According to Boston ad agency Mullen and their fourth annual Brand Bowl, Go Daddy was the least liked brand shown during the Super Bowl. The Internet domain name provider applied its typical lowbrow antics, employing longtime spokesperson Danica Patrick scantily clad in a version of heaven most likely conjured by the dream of high school aged boys. Once again using sex to sell its product, Go Daddy saw a huge number of negative tweets with replies growing tired of the company’s shtick.

Go Daddy has the dubious distinction of using a word in their company name – “daddy’ – and cheapening it to the point that it nearly derails the power of the title. Real daddies don’t sit around objectifying women at every turn or are consumed by lust. Some daddies are content to save that energy for the woman they love and to share only his best for his children. Instead of “Go Daddy,” perhaps more “Stay daddy” in the mainstream could help eliminate some of the negative connotation that the company applies to the word.

Let’s hope next year that companies like Go Daddy realize fathers are at home watching the game with their families, and perhaps use their platform for something other than cheap visual gags and silly humor.

It Must Be Tough Being A Military Dad

In my previous job, I traveled around the country quite a bit by airplane. I got a kick out of seeing military personnel returning home to loved ones at some of the international airports I visited, and I loved seeing families and friends hugging and crying with one another after reuniting. I always imagined what a deep feeling of relief it was for families, especially fathers, who were deployed abroad to come back home to loving arms.

This week, a little girl in Utah got the surprise of her life during a show-and-tell in her elementary school class. Five-year-old Baylee was speaking in front of her kindergarten class talking about the things she loves. As her teacher helps her with the presentation, she then points to a photo of her father, which makes Baylee perk up a bit. The teacher then points to the left and her dad walks in with little Baylee leaping into her dad’s arms – so excited, the cute kid loses a shoe!

I defy anyone, no matter how tough they are, to hold back tears of joy after hearing Baylee excitedly wrap her arms around her father Sgt. Adam Page. “How did you ever make it,” said Baylee repeatedly as dad was overcome with emotion. Watching Sgt. Page hold his daughter was a priceless moment that none will ever forget.

Sgt. Page had been deployed to Afghanistan, and has since returned to his native Utah. It will be the first time he’s lived with his family since the birth of his little one. One must wonder, how tough was it on this dad while he was away from his family. I was away from my daughter for just 8 months once for work, and I was so sad without her. I can’t imagine the weight dads who serve in the name of our country have to carry.

Thankfully, there are resources and other helpful things that can assist military fathers while they’re deployed abroad. Video chats, email, letters and even simple phone calls can help ease the pangs caused by the distance. The rewards, if dads and families can be patient and loving, are moments like we saw between Baylee and Adam. It is beyond obvious that as much as he could be, Sgt. Page was a solid fixture in his child’s life.

For military dads soon to be deployed or already serving abroad, NFI offers a handy resource called Deployed Fathers & Families: Guide For Military Personnel. This guide provides fathers with great tips such as managing money, taking care of medical needs, and also covers legal matters as well. Click here to learn more about our offerings for military dads.

And don’t forget there’s just a few days left to nominate a military dad for NFI’s annual Military Fatherhood Award! Click here to nominate a military dad today! Voting ends this Sunday, February 5 at 11:59 PM EST!

Lessons From My Grandfather

I joined the National Fatherhood Initiative in early December as a recently married man of five months. Coming to work for NFI as a newlywed has given me a pretty unique experience. Before getting married, my wife and I had talked about our hopes for a family and being parents. Working in an environment that affirms and builds up the role of the father, I’ve had time to “think ahead” and prepare for my hopefully growing family.

Hearing and sharing stories in the NFI office of our experiences at home, and also of our fathers, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my youth and childhood. I had a very happy childhood and am blessed with the parents I have. But there is one thing that I keep to myself mostly—how much I wish I could have known my grandfather better.

I only had the privilege of seeing my grandfather a couple times before he passed away. He was, as I remember, a quiet man. Not serious, but quiet. He had experienced a lot in his life. In hindsight, what I thought was a serious grandfather was more a man, who in seeing his son happy with his children, found peace in reflecting on his own life.

Perhaps he found consolation or healing in seeing his son carry on a tradition. I think he found joy and was proud of my dad for all that he had accomplished. He was a man who knew that it was not the material things that make a man wealthy, but the richness in his love for and from his family. I’m sure my grandpa was proud of my dad.

I owe a lot to my grandfather. Listening to my dad talk about him, I can see that he showed my father how to be a man, how to be a father, and how to love. My grandfather taught my dad everything that my father has passed on to me. Because of my father's example and his daily service to his children, I learned what fatherhood is. My father laid down his wants, desires, needs, and sacrificed his own life for us. I hope I can be the same kind of father to my children as my dad was to my brothers and I.

The most important thing my father taught me was how to love my wife. Yes, like all families, my parents disagree from time to time. But there has never been a doubt about just how much my father loves my mother. I’ve heard it said, "The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." I believe that to be true. My dad showed me how to love my wife by his loving and steady example. And again, I hope I can love my wife, Lacy, as well as my dad has loved my mom.

While I give great thanks to my dad and grandpa, I also am deeply grateful to my mother. Witnessing her gentleness, mercy, and care for my father, I have learned how to be loved. My mother "completed the picture" and witnessed to me how I should accept love from my wife. I saw how happy she made my dad, and she showed me that as a husband, I too one day deserved to be loved in the same fashion.

I am excited for what lies ahead. With the great examples my parents have given me and by God’s will, I feel that I will be ready and prepared to be a father for a growing and loving family.

Fathering For A Lifetime

Last week, NFI’s Director of Military Program Support Services Tim Red sent out an email to our staff in where he bravely and candidly spoke of a moment shared with his oldest son, Travis. After attending the funeral of his son’s good friend, it gave Tim and Travis a moment to reflect and reconnect the bond between father and son. Inspired by his bravery, I too shared a bit of my own fears and concerns regarding fatherhood with the staff and felt enlightened by Tim’s ability to open up about such a private matter.

When I think of devoted dads like Tim, I always imagine they have all the answers and because of his background, I expected that he handled tough times with flair. With 30 years of military service, I was certain Tim had seen it all. I originally asked Tim if I could share his story on our blog and he was gracious enough to allow me to do so. I called Tim last evening and what was initially meant to be a quick phone call turned into a 30-minute conversation that changed my life.

Tim and I had an honest and open discussion, which allowed me to learn that part of being a father is also realizing your shortcomings and showing vulnerability. To hear from Tim that raising his oldest child had been difficult for him just astounded me. I was listening to this strong man admitting that even after being a dad of 21 years, he’s continuing to learn lessons about fatherhood.

I had to fight back my emotions hearing Tim tell his story of the trials he faced with Travis although I hung on to every word. Tim’s fearlessness inspired me to devote myself to what I do here at NFI, and to also apply the lessons he shared with me in my own life. Being an involved, responsible and committed father became an even greater responsibility to me by way of our chat.

Although tragedy had to happen in order for Tim and Travis to find a new way to reconnect, stories like this are precisely why I’m proud to be a part of the National Fatherhood Initiative family. As I grow as a father and as a man, I can always look back fondly to the chat Tim and I had, realizing that you can never learn it all in one lifetime. Dealing with the ups and downs of fathering can make even the mightiest of us feel stretched thin. However, it’s good to know that we have an entire lifetime to get it right.

Cute Baby Videos And Cruel Comments Don’t Go Well Together

The Internet, especially the fast moving realm of social media, has given thousands of people a voice they once never had. The Web grants us access into a person’s life by way of keeping tabs on the various social media tools, to homepages, and the ever-present pool of words known as blogs. The voiceless can now be heard or seen without fear of censorship or retribution. In the case of folks leaving comments on blogs and YouTube sites, this could be seen as both a gift and a curse.

Daddy blogs, such as the clever Fatherhood Is, clearly knows how to poke fun at the learning curve of a new dad with comedic flair. The man behind the blog, Adam Brown, is a new dad of twins Greyson and Charlotte. His blog is possibly my favorite of the many daddy blogs around.

One particular funny video Brown placed on his site features his baby girl Charlotte. In the video, Brown makes a razzing noise that frightens little Charlotte, thus causing her eyes to cutely and comically widen. In just a scant two weeks since the video’s release, it has garnered over a million and a half views on YouTube (the clip is definitely a family favorite in my home).

While nothing more than a harmless game of dad being silly with his baby (which some dads do), it appears that the Internet-famous and now-viral clip is subject to mean critics who seem to relish in levying nasty and offensive comments. Using the cover of the keyboard, these individuals have heaped on opinions about Brown’s parenting style and even resorted to calling his baby unattractive.

Brown doesn’t seem bothered by the comments, but was self-aware enough to put up a following post that highlighted some of the mean remarks people made. Sidestepping the negativity, Brown even pondered on his post whether or not Charlotte’s twin brother would be jealous of his sister’s growing fame. Humor is a great shield for one to wield in this world we live in. Learning how to laugh when most would resort to defensive anger diffuses negativity much easier than meeting it head on.

I love a cute baby video just as much as anyone else. I really enjoyed this video of the babies tasting lemons for the first time. However, it pains me to witness people using words to hurt a dad who simply wanted to share the world a precious and cute moment between he and his newborn. Cute baby videos and cruel comments don’t go together and if you can’t say something nice, to borrow from the old adage, try not saying anything at all.

Cecil and Prince Fielder Have Long Road In Rebuilding Their Bond

While Detroit Tigers fans are no doubt celebrating the signing of All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder, the slugger returns to the place where his father Cecil won a World Series Championship – a father that he’s been at odds with for quite some time over reasons only known to them. Prince Fielder will undoubtedly face dozens of questions regarding the estranged relationship between him and his dad, although the elder Fielder has said the he’s been in brief contact with Prince.

“Well, we're having a few chats. We're doing a lot better than we were,” said Cecil Fielder Tuesday (January 24) on MLB Network Radio. “Time heals all wounds, man. Everybody has to come back together at some point. Number one thing, I'm just happy for him.”

Those words were a far cry from the violent talk from Fielder’s dad from last summer. Cecil told the Yuma Sun that he “wanted to drop a right on him instead of talking” to his son. In what should have been the feel-good story of the upcoming Major League Baseball season, the feud between the Fielders is still a prominent and tense issue.

Cecil Fielder and Prince’s mother Stacy underwent a tough divorce, which some writers say led to the split between father and son. Others have alleged that Cecil spent part of his son’s signing bonus without permission, and was embroiled in battling gambling and property debt issues as well.

Prince Fielder has never publicly addressed the split at length but the married father of two could possibly benefit in rebuilding the connection with the man he joined on the baseball field during spring training in 1994. News alternative Detroit Free Press even reprinted an old 1992 article featuring a story on Cecil Fielder and his baseball prodigy son, where young Prince even said his dad was the best homerun hitter in the game. Cleary at one point, they were inseparable and loving towards one another.

If Cecil’s words are true, perhaps they can reform their bond and give sons like myself and countless others hope. Hope that even those of us who don’t have our fathers in our lives that one day, we can try to rebuild the bonds. As Duk of the Big League Stew said eloquently of the Fielders’ situation in his column: fathers shouldn’t be apart from their sons.

Is Hollywood Helping Or Hurting The Case For Fatherhood?

I came across an article some days ago in the Los Angeles Times that reported on a rise in Hollywood films that featured parents in situations that led the moms and dads in the film to be stressed or anxious. Featured in the piece was Golden Globe Award-nominated film The Descendants starring Globe Best Actor winner George Clooney. In the film, Clooney plays a dad going through a tough time with a dying wife, betrayal, and attempting to get closer to his two daughters.

The film (which is excellent) takes the viewers through a lot of emotional ups and downs as Clooney exhibits the fear of having to raise his daughters without his spouse by his side. In the family film We Bought A Zoo, Matt Damon plays a widower with two young children struggling to stay close while Damon’s character navigates opening a zoo.

Another movie that was up for a few Golden Globe Awards, Carnage, also featured parents who argued with other parents over how to best deal with their fighting children’s issues. Although the film is billed as a black comedy, the core of the movie centers on how parents all have their own way of dealing with their children. The all-star cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz delight in their roles, but the ugly war of words become the centerpiece instead of these adults finding a way to cope with one another.

Parents going through times in film, especially dads, is not a brand new concept although the recent slate of films would suggest this is the case. There is something about watching angst unfold onscreen that captivates and infuriates all at once; there’s always an end to the movie but never to the realities that exist outside of the theater.

As said by Dr. Alexandra Barvi of New York University, “In the past, people parented based on instincts and how they were raised, but now with technology and the ease of transmittable information, we know so much more about parenting. We do so much more thinking about parenting. You can't turn on a morning show without an expert talking about college anxiety, how to keep your kids busier.”

Is Hollywood and television making it so that fathers new and old are overloaded with what can be seen as poor parenting tactics? Is the portrayal of parents in harrowing situations inspiring to dads who want to combat the anxiety that goes along with raising their children? Are fathers and mothers looking for ways to stave off the sometimes bleak imagery of parenthood and offer a reversal of sorts?

A good number of films with these sorts of plot tie-ins end with a happy moment of closure or triumph. There are even several films over the years that tell great stories about devoted dads who go through a lot of turmoil (and eventually joy) such as Big Fish and Finding Nemo. What we should focus on while viewing movies that feature dads and moms under duress is to make sure we’re talking about ways to avoid that struggle in our real lives.

Perhaps then, Hollywood can begin to tell a different story showing the endless possibilities of a blissful union between fathers, mothers, and their children.

Cleveland Indians Player Chris Perez Is Lucky To Have His Dad

It seems par for the course that fathers seek to bond with their kids – especially boys – playing the age-old game of catch, whether with a football or baseball. There’s something innate about that activity between fathers and sons; perhaps it’s an instinctive reminder for Dad that he once did this with his own dad – or at least wished he had. It’s something I definitely wished I shared with my own dad.

When I read the tale of MLB All-Star pitcher Chris Perez, and how he and his dad Tim bonded over Chris’ inclusion in the big name lineup last year, I confess I felt a tinge of envy. However, I’m glad to see that there are sons who look up to and value their dads even as they trudge along into adulthood and families of their own.

Perez shared with sports website The Bleacher Report on how he gifted his father with his 2011 All-Star ring, making it five sizes larger so that his dad could wear it.

Perez on the trying to surprise his father with the ring:

“Before entering the brunch, they handed out All-Star rings. When I picked mine up, they asked me to try it on. (I already had planned to give the ring to my Dad, so I had told them to make the ring 5 sizes too big for me.) My Dad was right next to me and noticed how big it was on me. I tried to play it off, but he kept making a deal about it.

Flash forward to after the game, my family and I are relaxing back in the hotel, and I pulled out the ring and gave it to him. He was shocked/surprised/happy/speechless. I couldn't think of anyone else that deserved the ring more than him; he's the reason I love the game, and the reason I became an All-Star.”

Chris Perez didn’t enter the game last year at the Midsummer Classic, but it’s a neat story showing that no matter how old you are as a son, you always want to please and gain the respect of your dad. Sometimes it’s tough to show our dads how much we love and adore them as adults, but I know as I speak for myself and other fathers that it never gets redundant to know that your children love you.

Tim Perez summed up his feelings about getting the ring from his son in a quick interview last summer. “I wasn't expecting it. We were in the room, and Chris just said 'I want to give you something,'" Tim Perez said to the Bradenton Herald. "My first reaction was, 'Son this is your ring. And he says 'No, dad, I wouldn't here without you.' I wasn't expecting anything. I was just a dad supporting his son.”

Tim Perez and his amazing humility is the very reason why fatherhood has to return to the forefront of the conversation when talking about combating societal ills. When a father does the right thing for his children, they become adults who respect the value and importance of what it means to be a dad when their time comes to be handed the torch.

Sure, I may pine for a time for my dad and I to have a similar bonding experience and I still have my baseball glove and ball from when I was 12 years old at the ready. Hopefully one day soon, my dad and I will have a moment to share and call our own just like Tim and Chris Perez.

Until then, I can only admire them from afar.

Being A Dad Is Just As Tough As Anything Else

Greetings, Father Factor readers!

To quote a song “I Know You Got Soul” from legendary 80s rap duo Eric B. & Rakim, “It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you” – but we’re back to regularly updating our blog after the holidays shifted everyone’s schedules around a bit.

Speaking of rap music, have you seen NFI’s nifty new Daily Dad News section? It’s 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 industry’s he’s 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 I’ll admit that I’ve listened to a bit of his T.I.’s music in my spare time, and a lot of it isn’t 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.

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