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The Father Factor

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Vincent DiCaro

Vince is NFI's Vice President of Communication and Development. He is married to Claudia, has one son with another son on the way and lives in Maryland.
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Father Facts are Pesky Things

We get a lot of inquiries here at NFI about “trends in fatherhood.” One of the most common “trends” people want to know about is the rising number of single fathers in the country. I hear this inquiry so often that I started to believe it was true, until I actually looked at the data.  

According to the US Census Bureau, 4.2 percent of children lived in “father only” homes in 2000. In 2012, that number dropped, yes dropped, to 3.96 percent. Not a huge drop, but a drop nonetheless.  

Top 5 Reasons to Donate to NFI

NFI’s new fiscal year starts on October 1, so we are already planning for “2014.” Here is how you can help us (with a tax deductible donation!) make it a banner year for educating, equipping, and engaging our nation about responsible fatherhood.

1)    Fund the next Father Facts
2)    Reunite military fathers with their children
3)    Help incarcerated fathers become better dads
4)    Be the voice for fatherhood
5)    Develop the next generation of fatherhood education

1)    Fund the next Father Facts
Every few years, NFI produces the industry-standard research compilation on the causes and consequences of father absence. We call it Father Facts; we will produce Father Facts 7 in 2014. A donation of just $10 will go towards helping us compile and produce the book that media, government, nonprofits, and every day parents use to get the latest data and research on fatherhood.

Fund the next Father Facts!

When Moms Mark Their Territory

Over the last four decades, men have had to give up their “territory” in the workplace to make room for women. Culturally, we’ve gone from Mad Men to the Working Mother 100 Best Companies list. But has the same change happened at home? Have moms given up their “territory” to make rooms for dads? 

While a definitive answer to such a complex question is hard to come by, we occasionally come across evidence that the answer is “not yet.” Take the incident outlined in this segment that aired yesterday on Good Morning America. 

With T1D Care, #DadsWay is Indispensable

One of the saddest statistics I have seen is that divorce rates among couples with special needs children are higher than among the general population. This breaks my heart. In situations where it is most critical for a couple to stay together so they can work together for the good of their children, there is even more family breakdown.

The Heart of NFI’s Work

As NFI adds more and more followers, blog readers, and “fans” via our social media tools, it often occurs to me that many of you may only have a very vague idea of what constitutes the core of NFI’s work as a nonprofit organization. Many of you may simply think of us as "those folks who write stuff online about fatherhood."

So, this morning, I headed over to the local hotel’s meeting room to gather some physical evidence of the “real” grassroots work we do to strengthen fatherhood across the country.

This morning, NFI’s Senior Director of Program Support Services, Mike Yudt, is delivering a full-day training session on our InsideOut Dad® program for incarcerated fathers. The folks we are training are a dedicated group of professionals who work in communities around the country (we even have a guest from Hawaii!) and are striving to ensure that their agencies offer programs for fathers.

Great Commercial. Bad tagline.

I love the pro-fatherhood imagery in this commercial. Take a look:

(Video) Oprah Talks Fatherhood, Plans to Talk Single Mothers

“Part of [the problem is in] our culture. We talk about fathers almost solely as providers. If you look at the way the government treats fathers, we have the child support system for dads who aren't married to mom and the tax code for the rest of us.” —Roland C. Warren, Board Member, National Fatherhood Initiative   

That is how Roland explained, on Oprah’s LifeClass this past Sunday, why so many fathers in our nation walk away from their kids. Too many men, for a variety of reasons, including insufficient cultural norms, think that all they can contribute to their children is their wallets. So, when their “economics” aren’t right, they feel they have nothing to offer.  

But as Roland says in the below video, “good dads, provide, nurture, and guide.”  

Oprah, NFI, and Fatherhood

Oprah Winfrey remains one of the most influential people in the country. The fact that she is using her influence to highlight the crisis of father absence in America is remarkable.  

Moms Should “Lean In” …to Fatherhood

The mommy wars continue. Should today’s women dedicate themselves more to their careers so they can “catch up” to men – to “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg suggests – or should they dedicate themselves more to motherhood because their kids need them?  

How about a third way?  

I propose that if moms want to do better at both parenting and work, they have to “lean in” to fatherhood.  

The Croods and “Leaning In”

It seems that strong women beget strong women. However, research also shows that involved fathers beget strong women. Let me explain...  

PA is 25th State to Standardize NFI's InsideOut Dad®

National Fatherhood Initiative Trains Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on Delivering Fatherhood Programming to Inmates Across the State

What Makes Girls “Brave”?

Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our fourth and final entry is on Brave. Reminder: Vote daily through midnight, February 24th.

I can’t say that I have read a ton of articles about women in business or sports, but many of the ones that I have read have a common thread running through them – successful women in business and sports had great dads.  

I am not sure what the conventional wisdom is on this topic, but from the various public education campaigns I have seen, and the mentoring programs that businesses run, it seems that the attitude is that women need to see other strong women in order to become strong themselves. This may very well be the case, but it appears to only be part of the story.  

Moreover, the research on the unique effects that fathers have on their children consistently shows that fathers, more than mothers, instill a sense of adventure in their children, encourage safe risk taking, and help them see beyond narrow definitions of what is “expected” of each gender.  

If you apply that research to what it takes to thrive in the business or sports worlds (or anywhere), there is a very strong case for the importance of fathers in helping their children, including girls, become successful.  

What does this have to do with the movie Brave? While Brave is a decidedly mother-daughter story, it was actually the father, Fergus, who, from the very beginning of the story, encouraged his daughter Merida’s adventurous spirit. It was mom who had to “come around” to the idea of her daughter wanting to delay marriage, ride horses, and become an expert archer. Dad “got it” all along.  

While the good folks at Pixar may not have realized it, they were tapping into the truths unearthed in the research I mentioned above (all of which can be found in our Father Facts publications).  

This is why we have nominated Brave for the Fatherhood Movie of the Year. There have certainly been criticisms of the treatment of men and boys in the film. Many of the male characters are childish, violent, immature, and stupid. Even Fergus has moments like that. But at the heart of the father’s character is his love for his daughter and the unyielding support he gives her, even as she makes “unconventional” decisions. Moreover, he has a very loving and affectionate relationship with his wife, to the point where he embarrasses Merida with his public displays of affection.

So, for depicting a loving father and husband who encourages his daughter’s adventurous spirit and unashamedly loves his wife, Brave is up for Fatherhood Movie of the Year.

Vote for Your Favorite Movie Daily!

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Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance

At NFI, one of the most common questions we get is “So, what do you guys do?” This question often follows a long explanation of what we do. That was a joke…  

But the question is a fair one, because we are not a “direct service” organization that can simply show you our office’s “underwater fathering” workshop. Instead, we enable direct service organizations to work with fathers. Therefore, it is always a bit harder for the public to visualize how we are strengthening fatherhood across the country.  

State of the Union Address: Fatherhood on the Agenda

“And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one. Stronger families.  Stronger communities.  A stronger America.  It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home.” -- President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 2/12/13

Not for the first time, President Barack Obama urged the nation to strengthen the institution of fatherhood. He also made the important connection between marriage and fatherhood; two forces that work together to strengthen families and the economy. 

Advocate for Dads in Washington, DC!

One of NFI’s goals is to be a voice for fatherhood on Capitol Hill. Over the years, for example, we have helped push through funding that supports organizations seeking to equip dads.

So, while there is funding for programs providing needed services to fathers, there is a general lack of funding available for organizations to obtain the “capacity-building” training and services they need to build long-term sustainability.

The Father Factor Blog > Where Fatherhood Leaders Go To Learn.

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