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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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Recent Posts

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.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: A Fatherhood “Review”

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 first entry is on Beasts of the Southern Wild. 

One of the hardest things for many dads to do is express love and reveal their emotions to their children. Often, and unfortunately, anger is the only emotion men are really comfortable expressing. This is true of Wink, the father in the highly-praised film, Beasts of the Southern Wild (it is up for several Oscars, including Best Picture).

If you are looking for a film with a sugar-coated relationship between a father and his daughter, this is not the film for you. It takes a very gritty, sometimes shocking look at what can transpire when people are faced with severe challenges, like isolation, grief and poverty. 

Advocating for Fatherhood Programs in Washington, D.C.

As we detailed in a recent post here on this blog, program sustainability is a critical factor in determining the overall success of fatherhood programs around the country.

NFI Supplies U.S. Military With Fatherhood Resources

Great news! NFI has completed the delivery of over 140,000 fatherhood skill-building resources to 47 Air National Guard Airman and Family Readiness Programs and 71 Army New Parent Support Programs across the United States and around the world.

Good Dads and Bad Dads in TV Ads

My wife hates watching TV with me because whenever I see a commercial depicting fathers in a negative light, I go off on the same rant. So, she hears this rant almost nightly.

NFI Supplies U.S. Military With Fatherhood Resources

Great news! NFI has completed the delivery of over 140,000 fatherhood skill-building resources to 47 Air National Guard Airman and Family Readiness Programs and 71 Army New Parent Support Programs across the United States and around the world.

The Director's Guidance on "Parental Guidance" — Interview with Andy Fickman

Just before Christmas, we had the pleasure of speaking with Andy Fickman, director of the new film Parental Guidance, in theaters now, starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott. Crystal and Midler play Tomei’s character’s parents, and are grandparents to her and her husband’s three children. Mom and dad have to go away for the weekend, and they struggle with leaving the kids with their grandparents. Much intergenerational hilarity ensues, driven by the great comedic acting of Crystal and Midler.

The film does a great job of exploring issues around parenting, grandparents, and marriage. Take a look at what the film’s director had to say about it. We are hopeful his wisdom, insights, and humor will inspire you to go see the film this weekend!

The Spider-Man Sleep Solution

My son has been sleeping in his own bed every night, all night since a new room “opened for business” in our house. Yes – he has his very own Spider-Man room, and it is the greatest solution to toddler sleep issues ever invented by a father, humbly speaking.

He is 3 now. From when he was an infant until about a year ago, he slept in his crib pretty much every night, but he never wanted to fall asleep in his crib. He would have to fall asleep on the couch with mommy and daddy nearby, or in our bed. Then when he fell asleep, we’d whisk him away to his crib. For the last several months, matters had been worse. Not only would he not fall asleep in his own bed, but when we would place him there, he would inevitably wake up in the middle of the night and come to our room, seeking a comfy spot right in the middle of mommy and daddy’s bed.

Is the Sandy Hook Shooting Another Crime of Fatherlessness?

In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, our nation is collectively mourning and trying to figure out how something this terrible could happen. While it is not our job at NFI to figure out how to solve issues around gun control and mental health treatment, we would be remiss not to point out that once again, like in so many tragedies of this nature, there appears to be a significant “father factor” at play.

As we learn more and more about the troubled life of shooter Adam Lanza, it appears that the divorce of his parents had a significant, negative impact on his life.  

It is becoming clear that Adam Lanza suffered from some sort of emotional or psychological disorder that has not yet been specified. It also appears that this mental disorder contributed significantly to the heinous crime he committed. However, we know from research that children from father-absent homes are more likely to have emotional problems and are also more likely to commit crimes.According to this news article, he took the divorce especially hard – “The break up was traumatic, leaving the couple's sons devastated.” His father, Peter Lanza, had moved out and remarried in 2009; and although he had legal access to his child, he had not seen him in 6 months. In other words, there were no legal barriers preventing him from seeing his child, but he had not seen him since June. Adam Lanza was not alone in this – fully one third of children from father-absent homes never see their dads, and another third only see them once per month*. 

This blog has written several times about the father factor in mass murders (the Aurora shooting, the D.C. sniper, and Chardon High School, the Norway terrorist, and Tucson), and the patterns we see in each and every one of these cases is eerily similar. 

Had Peter Lanza been more involved in his son’s life -- helping him deal with the mental anguish it appears he was going through -- would things have turned out differently? Sadly, we will never know.

For now, all we can do is mourn with the families who were affected by this tragedy and start to work together to devise solutions that will reduce the likelihood of this sort of tragedy happening again. And certainly, part of the solution needs to be to ensure that all children have involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives who can help them navigate a difficult world, one that is especially difficult for the mentally ill.

*See: 

  • Stewart, Susan D. “Nonresident Parenting and Adolescent Adjustment: The Quality of Nonresident Father-Child Interaction.” Journal of Family Issues, 24 (March 2003): 217-244 
  • Aquilino, W.S. (2006). The noncustodial father-child relationship from adolescence into young adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 929-946

    photo credit: Rickydavid

March of Dimes’ Big Miss

Very good news was just released about the United States’ preterm birthrate: in 2011, for the fifth consecutive year, it decreased. The rate now stands at a 10-year low of 11.7%.

This news was rightfully celebrated by the organization that is probably the single biggest advocate for maternal and infant health in the U.S., March of Dimes. That admirable organization has set a goal of a 9.6% rate by 2020.

A Focus on Fatherhood is Coming to New Jersey

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has been awarded a contract from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJDCF) to strengthen the state’s services to fathers.

Through the provision of training and technical assistance on its flagship 24/7 Dad® program, NFI will help the state’s 175 NJDCF-funded agencies deliver standardized, high-quality services to fathers across the state. This 18-month process will give NJDCF the ability to more effectively measure the impact of fatherhood programming on pro-fathering skills, attitudes, and knowledge in New Jersey.

A New Season for NFI

Roland C. Warren, who has served as president of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) since 2001, will be leaving the organization to pursue a personal passion, but will join the board to continue guiding our important mission. NFI’s board of directors has created an executive search committee that is engaged in the search process to find the next president.  

While the board conducts the executive search process, the chairman of NFI, Carlos Alcazar, will be interim CEO with the support of executive vice president Christopher Brown. Roland has done an excellent job of building a superb senior management team in Christopher Brown, Paul Byus, Erik Vecere, Vincent DiCaro, and Melissa Steward, who will continue to manage NFI on a day-to-day basis.

During Roland’s time at NFI, the organization has become the nation’s #1 provider of fatherhood resources in the nation and the most quoted authority on fatherhood in the national media and on Capitol Hill. NFI has turned into an organization that not only inspires the culture about the importance of fathers, but also provides dads and organizations with high-quality skill-building materials to move people from “inspiration to implementation.” In the coming months, NFI will be releasing new tip cards, pocket guides, and Spanish translations of various resources for dads, and even some new resources for moms. There are also exciting partnerships with corporations and entertainment media companies that will advance the public dialogue on responsible fatherhood.

Roland said, “NFI's story is my story and its mission remains my mission. That's why I am so pleased to continue to be involved on NFI's board, and I look forward to continuing to support NFI's compelling and urgent mission to ensure that all children have involved, responsible and committed fathers who will connect with them heart to heart.”

“Both the staff of NFI and the board are eternally grateful for the inspirational leadership that Roland has provided NFI during his nearly 11 years of service”, said board chairman and interim CEO, Carlos Alcazar. “And at this pivotal moment, I’m very inspired about the release of our best work ever in the coming months, as well as the partnerships with organizations and media companies that will amplify our mission and impact,“ added Alcazar.

Roland departs NFI to become the leader of another non-profit organization whose mission he cares about deeply. We wish Roland all the best in his new role.

We are excited about NFI’s future, and we look forward to the new season we are entering under new leadership. In the meantime, we are delighted to continue providing you with the same level of inspiration, resources, and services around fatherhood. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact NFI’s Vice President of Development and Communication, Vincent DiCaro at 301-948-0599 or vdicaro@fatherhood.org.

If you would like to share your appreciation of Roland for his 11+ years of service at NFI, send us an email at president@fatherhood.org.

Please continue to check in with us at our website, www.fatherhood.org, for the latest news and announcements from NFI.

Thank you.

NFI Launches Update of InsideOut Dad

National Fatherhood Initiative annouces the release of an updated version of InsideOut Dad®, the nation’s only evidence-based program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers.

NFI’s team of fatherhood experts incorporated practitioner feedback and evaluation data from around the country to refresh the program, which is already standardized programming in 24 states and New York City.

When Daddy Isn't in the "Family" Picture

For all the talk we hear these days about how “families can take many forms,” it seems there is one particular form that, if there was a popularity contest for family types, would be losing. It’s the one where dad is involved.

Every time I think NFI is in danger of exaggerating our claims around the prevalence of father absence and the lack of respect for the institution of fatherhood, a good reminder of our pinpoint accuracy smacks me right in the face.

Fatherhood’s In the Genes

A recent op-ed in The New York Times provides dads with more evidence of why they are important to their children.

The article is written from a health perspective – and the science of genetics and epigenetics can be very complex – but the takeaway for dads is this: your behavior and lifestyle choices over the course of your life become “imprinted” on your genes, and, consequently, are passed down to your children and grandchildren.

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