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The Father Factor

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Kerry Cole

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The Telling Side of Parenting Humor

This is a blog post by NFI's Senior Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern. If you would like to guest blog for us please email us.

Just like everyone else I suppose, I love to laugh! I am ever on the lookout for the humor in things especially when they have to do with parenting or dads in particular. 

Recently someone sent me an email. You know the kind, with funny stories and they ask you to pass it on, etc. This one was labeled WHY GOD MADE MOMS.

The answers were given by 2nd grade school children to a number of questions such as:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

You get the picture, and of course they made me laugh, or smile at least and I actually identified with the statements these kids were making.  Here is the link to the entire list.  But as I read through the list, the questions asked about the dads specifically - although funny -are quite telling.  I noticed a bit of a theme like we also see on television today, that mom is smart and the “boss” and dad is a kind of “goof” to quote one of the kids.  There was another statement from one child’s grandma who had something negative to say about dad.

I grew up in the 60’s and in contrast, thought of the old TV shows likeKids Say The Darndest Things KidsSay The Darndest Things(then with Art Linkletterlater with Bill Cosby) it is clear there was a kind of reverence for both parents.  

Now I know I look at things from a fatherhood lens so to speak, because of what I do here at NFI.  For a moment, I thought maybe I was being hypersensitive.  So I read on to the "Mommy Test."

THE MOMMY TEST
I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. "Why?" my daughter asked. "Because it's been laying outside, you don't know where it's been, it's dirty and probably has germs" I replied. At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and asked, "Wow! How do you know all this stuff?"
"Uh," ...I was thinking quickly, “All moms know this stuff. It's on the Mommy Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mommy."
We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently pondering thi
s new information.
"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you have to be the daddy"
"Exactly" I replied back with a big smile on my face and joy in my heart.

When you're finished laughing, send this to a Mom.

I wondered about mom’s comment about having “joy in her heart” to have gotten the message across to her 4 year old daughter.  But was that message actually "moms know everything, and those that don’t pass the test—are those (dumb?) dads"?  And why is it important to send this on to another mom? Because, oh yes, we (moms) all will get it too?  Again, am I being hypersensitive because of the work we do here at NFI?  

In our country, one in three children are growing up in homes without a father.  Why is that bad or even a tragedy?  There are numerous statistics  linking father absence to so many unfunny social issues like teen pregnancy, incarceration, crime, etc. Even more alarming in Research Studies with dads AND moms – shows that more than half of moms and dads believe dads are replaceable!  

As I have learned through experience and the research NFI provides, dads don’t do things the same way we moms do.  Ah hah!  I sadly reflect now on how many times I verbally expressed how dad didn’t do something correctly or “my way” in front of our children. We (moms) want dads interaction with our children --but we want them to interact the same way that we interact.

What the research actually shows is that the wonderful blend of parenting approaches or styles from both parents is beneficial and enriching for children. And involved fathers and involved mothers are beneficial to each other! See our recent Blog Moms Should “Lean In” …to Fatherhood about this very topic.

Which leads me to this: 

While we have developed countless resources for fathers; emails like thePocketbook for Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad one described above illustrate the very real perception a lot of mothers have about the fathers of their children. In case you haven’t heard, NFI recently launched a new series of  Resources for Moms – and yes there are a lot of resources out there for moms.

But what is unique is these are for moms…About Dads! Our new low intensity resources include the Pocketbook for Moms™: A PocketbookPocketbook for New Moms™: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads Full of Ways to Communicate with Dad as well as the Pocketbook for New Moms: A Pocketbook Full of Reasons for New Moms to Involve Dads.These pocketbooks are filled with tips and advice for moms on how to communicate with dads.

I believe that these resources and programs can be a great way for organizations working in our communities to help both parents vastly improve child-rearing skills and expand the enjoyment of their personal relationship as well.  And speaking of personal relationships, I believe humor is a key component to keeping good relationships for sure. It is important to be way more aware of the deeper messages to that humor. 

Now, have you heard the one about

Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Talks Fatherhood Kiosks

The following incorporates a guest post by Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries. If you would like to guest blog for us, email here.

At NFI, we often receive inquiries from organizations asking some of the following questions:

question mark  How can we increase our exposure in the community?

 

question mark How do we get our information and services into the public?

 

question mark How can we make our resources easily accessible?

 

Eli Williams, Director of Fatherhood, Fatherhood Clark County, OH and Urban Light Ministries is using NFI's Fatherhood Kiosks in creative ways, so we asked him to share how he is using them in his community:

Fatherhood Resource Center™

"To be effective, a local fatherhood initiative needs to get information about the resources available to fathers into the hands of those dads.

Here in Clark County, Ohio, new Fatherhood Resource Kiosks have been strategically placed around the community to do just that. We have stocked the kiosks with informative tip cards and brochures from National Fatherhood Initiative including: Ten Ways to Be a Better Dad, Ten Tips for New Dads, and Ten Tips to Help Your Child in School. The kiosks and full-color materials are expertly designed and make an excellent first impression.

They also allow us to easily provide information to fathers in the rest of the community. In those kiosks, we’ve also included tip cards and brochures featuring the fatherhood programs and services offered by Urban Light. The five free-standing Fatherhood Resource Kiosks were strategically placed throughout our county at WorkPlus one-stop job center, the county Child Support agency, Children Service agency, Rocking Horse Community Health Center, and Springfield High School. After an undetermined period of time, some of the kiosks may be moved to other locations to increase exposure and access.

Fatherhood Resource Center™

We continue to use the older style tabletop fatherhood kiosk from NFI, as it's being kept on display at Urban Light Fatherhood Resource Center in Springfield, OH. We are planning to also use this as a traveling unit for conferences, community events, and etc.

Fatherhood Clark County is grateful that NFI had the foresight to create these important tools for promoting responsible fatherhood, and healthy fathering practices."

Fatherhood Clark County oversees the county’s Action Plan to Promote Responsible Fatherhood, local Fatherhood Summits, and the annual celebration of fatherhood each Fathers Day weekend.

We hope that hearing from Eli gives your organization some ideas on how to make the most out of your Fatherhood Resource Kiosks™; they are an excellent way to engage the community and expand your efforts.

Learn more about the Kiosks by downloading the information sheet below!

3 Popular Questions When Working With Fathers

At NFI we recieve many questions asking how organizations can better reach and help the fathers going through our fatherhood programs they run. The following are three popular - but tough - questions that are important to wrestle with as individuals and organizations seek to provide greater support to fathers and their respective families.

person stands thinking beside questionmarkHow do we reach dads that are not interested in being involved in their children's lives?

This is a question that we receive often.  It’s important to acknowledge on the front end that despite our best efforts, some dads will be very challenging to reach.  While many dads have a strong interest in their children, some fathers are apathetic towards their role.  The key in reaching these fathers is to not write them off, but to always make them feel welcome and to try to understand why they feel that way.  Also, discern whether someone else is in a better position to speak to them about the importance of their role.  Do not feel like you have to carry the burden alone.  And remember, it’s important not to divert too much time and energy away from the dads that are ready and willing to increase and improve their involvement with their children.  In an effort to connect with the hard to reach dads, we don’t want to lose sight of the ones that are showing an interest in their children. 

For more suggestions on Recruiting and Retaining Fathers, contact NFI’s Program Support Team.

describe the imageHow can I help a father who is having significant issues with the mother of his children?

This too is a great question.  There are several principles to keep in mind here.  First, it’s important to start small.  The common principle in paying off credit card debt is to pay off the smallest debt first and then work towards the larger debts.  The same principle applies to relationships.  Remember to first focus on the issues that you have the best chance of resolving.  Once you see success in those areas, mutual respect and confidence in the relationship will grow.  Then it becomes more likely that you’ll see success with the more significant and complex issues.  But, remember to coach the dads to focus on what they have contributed to the conflict, rather than on what “she” needs to do differently.  By taking greater ownership of the situation, dads will be putting themselves in the best possible position to reconcile with the mother of their children.

For more information on working with dads and moms on resolving conflicts, please download our Talking with Mom and Mom as Gateway workshops. 

man standing by question markWhat advice can I give a non-residential father who is trying to communicate with his children, but is not hearing anything back?

This is indeed a tough scenario.  First, it’s important for dads to separate their efforts from the results.  Certainly, the goal of communication is for it to be a two way street. But in some cases, letters and phone calls (and other means of communication) will go unanswered. The reasons why are as complex as the relationships themselves.  But here’s what dads need to remember: the more sincere and consistent communication you have with your children, the more likely you will eventually see results. This may take days, months, and even years.  It will be critical for dads to have a resolve to stay consistent in their communication efforts, even if they never hear back.  That will give dads the peace knowing that they did what they could to move beyond the past and heal their relationship.  NFI has heard many stories of reconciliation taking place after countless years of separation and silence.  You too can see that result!  Remember, two keys to reconciliation are owning what you did wrong and forgiving the other person for their mistakes. 

Want to help fathers connect with their children? Download NFI's "The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child"

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