Mobile Toggle
btn-shop-fathersourcehomepage-btnbrn-free-resources
rsstwfbenews

The Father Factor

subpage-image

Advocate for Dads in Washington, DC!

capitol building advocate for fatherhoodOne 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.

What is capacity-building? It is what organizations need to be more effective in their service delivery in the present and more viable organizations in the future. Leadership development, organizational development, program development, and community engagement would all qualify as capacity-building services.

That is why we have created an initiative to inform Congress that federal fatherhood grantees should be allowed to use a portion of their funds to procure capacity-building services and training.

While service delivery is the most important use of grant funds, those services need to be delivered by effective organizations – and that is where capacity-building comes in. It will help organizations do a better job serving fathers and ultimately lead to better outcomes for children.

We have set up a page on our website where you and/or your organization can make your voice heard! The grant program for fatherhood programs will be reviewed in Congress later this year, so now is the time to ensure that future grantees will have the flexibility to use some of their grant funds for capacity-building.

Here is what we would like for you to do: 

As an individual – Use our special webpage to send your opinion directly to your members of Congress. The more voices that come on board, the more persuasive we can be!

As an organizationSign on to become an "endorsing organization" of this effort to allow federal fatherhood grantees to use a portion of their funds for capacity-building services. Your organization's name will be listed alongside National Fatherhood Initiative as a supporter or this important advocacy effort.

We will soon inform Congress and the White House of all the people and organizations that are behind this effort. 

Thank you so much in advance for helping us in this important effort. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Vincent DiCaro, NFI’s Congressional liaison at vdicaro@fatherhood.org.

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: 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 second entry is on The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

movies, entertainment, odd life of timothy green, tips, fatherhood, parenting, kids, family

In The Odd Life of Timothy Green we see on the big screen that fathering isn’t about WHAT your child does; but more about WHO your child is.

When Odd Life opened in theaters in August, we wrote Are You Putting Your Kid in a Box? and The Odd Life of Parents. So we've talked about the child's perspective and the overall parental perspective. However, we nominated this film as a finalist for our 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year based on it’s real and genuine depiction of fatherhood – and the lessons we learn about fathering through Jim, Timothy’s Dad. 

The Odd Life makes a dad think about which dreams matter and which dreams don't. Most times, you and I dream the wrong dreams for our kids. When we dream of "the perfect child" we are typically dreaming of WHAT our son or daughter will be instead of WHO they will be as person. These lessons come about through the daily lives of the Green family, below are two such ways us dads are taught what's most important:

1) What Versus Who: Artist or Honest?
Jim and Cindy wish that fateful night—in their wishses for the pefect child—for "Our kid to be Picasso with pencil"! Essentially, Jim and Cindy wish for an artist. They get their wish! But not as they expect. You see, the Green's also wish for their child to be, "honest to a fault". The Green's are granted that wish as well. Timothy draws a beautiful image of his mother's boss at work. But upon review, he draws his beautiful picture a little to accurate, including facial hair for the female subject! The lesson for dads? Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!

2) What Versus Who: Amazing Athlete or Positive Person?  
That same night of wishing for the perfect child, the Green's wish for their kid to, "score the winning goal"! Sounds simple enough, right?! Wrong! Timothy ends the big soccer game by kicking the winning goal—for the other team! Also during the game, we see another wish fulfilled in Timothy, for the Green's had also wished that night for their child to be, "the glass half-full person"! They get the positive child. Timothy is a very positive kid. So positive he sits on the bench most of the soccer game, giving his coach water at one point, totally content with not playing in the game of all games! Again, there's a lesson for dads. Dream and wish all you want, but be careful what you wish for—you just might get it!

The Odd Life serves as a great reminder of what is truly important to instill in our children – that it’s WHO they are that matters more than WHAT they do. Daily, we as dads are to cherish our children, no matter what. The dad in The Odd Life depicts a father who does exactly that.

Dads watching this movie will learn many lessons; but one of the most important lessons is this: don't put your child in a box. Don't dream up skills and things that are seen and can therefore be contained. Instead, dream and model the unseen, like character, values and respect. It's more important to be honest than to be the next Picasso. It's more important to be a positive person than to be an amazing athlete. From NFI’s perspective, this film depicts an active, involved and committed father—and we can’t ask for more than that. For this reason, we nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

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. 

fatherhood,parenting,family,movies,dad,culture,entertainment,oscars, 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. 

But it is in the conflict where the true “fatherhood magic” happens in this film. Early in the film, we see that Wink is very hard on his daughter, Hushpuppy, played brilliantly by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis (also nominated for an Oscar). He yells at her, expects her to fend for herself despite her very young age, and even beats her. In a particularly difficult scene, he slaps her repeatedly to the ground.

It is what Hushpuppy makes of this situation that holds an incredibly valuable lesson for fathers. Despite the mistreatment, Hushpuppy very clearly loves her dad and she knows that he loves her, despite his inability to effectively express it. This is critical for fathers to understand, especially dads who are facing particularly difficult circumstances. 

For example, in NFI’s work with incarcerated fathers, one of the first obstacles we have to overcome in helping these men reconnect with their children is to convince them that despite what they may have done in the past, their children still need and love them. 

In Hushpuppy’s case, she is willing to go on a long, hard journey to save her father’s life, despite the fact that he is not the Father of the Year. No, but he is her dad, and she desperately loves him.

By no means are we suggesting that dads should be callous in their behavior toward their kids, resting assured that their children will love them anyway. But what Hushpuppy teaches us dads is that we are entrusted with a sacred relationship that is forged in love, and it is up to us to hold up our end of the bargain and give our children the love they so desperately need and want from us.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is by no means a one dimensional film – you will learn a lot by watching it. But from NFI’s perspective, it is, at heart, a movie about why fathers matter. And for that reason, we have nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year.

Have you seen this film? What did you think about it?

 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Most Popular Post of 2012 — The Difference Between a Man and a Boy

The Father Factor Blog closes the year by reposting our most popular blog post of 2012! Thank you for reading and connecting with us this year. We've enjoyed talking parenting tips and tools. Today, without further delay, we give you our most popular blog post of 2012!

Adapted from the original blog: 
You know the guy. He’s a friend of yours. Everyone knows the guy who’d rather play video games 24/7 and live in his parents’ basement. You know, the guy who takes the storyline behind his favorite board game a wee bit too seriously. Yeah, you know the guy, as do I. I think I’ve figured out what makes this guy different from the one not living in his parents’ basement.

difference between man and boy

This difference is explored in Philip G. Zimbardo’s new research and book The Demise of Guys, which reveals things we’ve thought for years, but just haven’t talked about - that guys are “flaming out.”

So what’s behind this research? Zimbardo’s complaining brings great insight into the core issue. Zimbardo says media and education and society at large are the problems. Society is the “major contributor to this demise because [it is] inhibiting guys’ intellectual, creative and social abilities right from the start.” The result is young men with a lack of purpose, basic social skills, who live off of their parents.

While I think Zimbardo’s research does well to reveal the problem, the solution isn’t adapting some societal strategy to make men out of boys by retraining society to not inhibit them. Society has its issues, of course. But the problem, in my eyes, lies with the boy. There’s a difference between a boy and a man. Always has been, always will be. If you have no plan to leave your parents’ house, you’re a boy. If you don’t relate to women as equals, you’re a boy. If you aren’t emotionally able to cherish your wife, you’re a boy. If you play video games 24/7 and you’re not actually designing the games, you’re just a boy without a purpose.

Therefore, I don’t blame media, society or women – I blame father absence.

Boys learn the kinds of behaviors Zimbardo talks about from their fathers. We live in an age of mass father absence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America -- one out of three -- live in biological father-absent homes. Two in three African American children live in father-absent homes. Consequently, there is a "father factor" in nearly all of the social issues facing America today. From poverty, maternal and child health, incarceration, crime, teen pregnancy, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity – fatherhood changes these issues, for good or ill.

Every generation has its things for which to watch out. Sure, this generation has seen a “rise of technology enchantment” as Zimbardo points out. I certainly have more technology-related temptations than my father did. Each generation has its forms of seduction. This generation’s may be video games and online porn. My father’s temptations may have been print magazines and watching too many sports on TV. All I know is that the temptation to live for oneself will always be with us – it is part of the human condition.

The difference, though, today is that fewer and fewer boys have the stabilizing presence of an involved, responsible, and committed father in their lives to help them navigate a world of temptations and make the transition from self-centeredness to other-centeredness – the transition from boyhood to manhood. The “demise of guys” is really, at its root, the absence of fathers.

Read the original blog post: The Difference Between a Man and a Boy

Which blog post was your favorite of 2012?

photo credit: practicalowl 

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Happy Holidays from NFI and The 12 Dads of Christmas!

Happy Holidays from our famlies to yours! We've had a great time sharing stories of our most memorable holidays from across the entire nation. We hope you're taking time to enjoy your famliy and create more memories worth writing about! 

The 12 Dads of ChristmasFind our "12 Dads of Christmas" below and enjoy your holiday. Merry Christmas!

Dad 1: Jeff Land, A Generous Christmas:
“Christmas won’t be as big this year,” my mom’s constant reminder rung out in my mind. She and my dad were terribly afraid my brothers and I would be disappointed. She daily reminded us that this year was going to be different... Read more.

Dad 2: Ricky Choi, Holidays at the Hospital:
As a resident physician I spent a Christmas holiday working in the hospital. Because illness and accidents didn’t take a break during the holidays, someone on the physician staff couldn’t either. But I didn’t mind... Read more.

Dad 3: Madison Cowan, Christmas Every Day:
Christmastime for most of us is full on with memories. Whether of religious observances or the thought of gathering with loved ones to share cheer and compliments of the season. I recall as a child the magic of the holidays: playing in the snow, picking out a tree, the joy brought on by an original Marx Rock`em Sock`em Robots game, or the tantalizing aroma of Christmas lunch wafting throughout the house... Read more.

Dad 4: Chris Read, A Canadian Dad's Christmas Story:
If I HAD to pick memorable moments, that I can remember at least, a couple come to mind. The first involves my father and my uncle, who decided to give us kids a Christmas treat by setting up an elaborate scene for us. They set it up so that we all thought Santa had visited while we were there for our annual Christmas dinner. They had set up reindeer prints outside and even created a loud thud on the roof to make us think Santa was there... Read more.

Dad 5: John Wilke, Church, Chocolate and Charlie Brown: How One Dad Makes Christmas Bright:
For many children, the Christmas season is the most special time of year. In their little minds, the holidays brings new toys, candy, cakes, time off from school, parents possibly off from work and maybe even playing in the snow... Read more.

Dad 6: Dave Taylor, Creating Holiday Memories:
I'll be honest. My parents weren't really into holidays, either for themselves or for us kids. We celebrated some American holidays, but as newly minted Americans (I was born in England and didn't become a US citizen until I was 16) a lot of those holidays seemed less than vital. Then there were birthdays, which just weren't much of a big deal, with frankly uninspired present exchanges. Finally, we also celebrated the main Jewish holidays (Passover, Hannukah) but, again, not with great zeal and enthusiasm... Read more.

Dad 7: Jason Bruce, Slowing Down Makes Christmas Memorable:
The Christmas season becomes more hectic as one becomes an adult and a parent. That’s why memories of my childhood always come to my mind first when I reflect on my most memorable Christmases... Read more.

Dad 8: Scott Behson, An Involved Father Shares What's Better Than Being Santa:
Like virtually every child, I LOVED Christmas, especially when I was young enough to believe in Santa. After growing up, Christmas is still special, but it is no longer magic. That is, until you have kids and can now pass the magic along to them- and even better YOU get to be Santa. As a dad, it is never more true than during Christmas that it is better to give than to receive... Read more.

Dad 9: Tim Red, NFI Staff Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions:
One of my most memorable Christmases as a Dad was held on Thanksgiving in 2005 because two days later I was deploying for a year and would miss Christmas with my Family... Read more.

Dad 10: Erik Vecere, NFI Staff Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions:
One of the Christmases that I still laugh about occurred when I was boy back in the early 1980’s. I was so excited to get one of those football fields that you placed the little football players on and plugged it in... Read more.

Dad 11: Chris Delgado, First Comes Pizza, Then Comes Proposal: The Christmas She Said "Yes!":
My favorite Christmas marked a transition and a new meaning in my life. It was the year 2001 and this is when I proposed to my girlfriend who is now my wife... Read more.

Dad 12: Dave Sniadak, Reflecting on Christmas Past, Present:
For me, Christmas was always a magical time of year. Where I lived growing up, we almost always had snow - lots of it - but not bitter biting, freeze your nose off cold that kept you locked up in the house. I would spend hours rolling snowmen and exploring the backwoods behind our house, checking for tracks and remnants of elves sneaking around the yard. And while I never went into the holiday season with a set expectation of what I'd get from Santa, he certainly never disappointed... Read more.

The 12 Dads of ChristmasWhat have you enjoyed most from this holiday season and our 12 Dads of Christmas?

Continue connecting with us by sharing your most memorable holiday. You can record a video, share a picture, or post a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use #12DadsofXmas so we see your message!

Holidays at the Hospital

This is a guest post by Dr. Ricky Choi. Choi is a pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Physicians Alliance and is a national leader of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children. Find him at The Huffington Post and on his blogHe writes this post for NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in guest blogging for us, send an email.

Christmas Memories
xmasnewbornAs a resident physician I spent a Christmas holiday working in the hospital. Because illness and accidents didn’t take a break during the holidays, someone on the physician staff couldn’t either. But I didn’t mind.

One of the many reasons I chose pediatrics as a specialty was the value staff placed on those things that were important to children. And for most kids, Christmas is a big deal. Though the inpatient unit was typically busy during the winter the pediatric staff made every effort to get kids home for Christmas -even if it only meant returning to the hospital 24 hours later.

So the few days before the big day were filled with commotion and hustle in the air. Some of the children required significant accommodations to make sure that they were safe to go home.

My arrival on the pediatric floor Christmas morning was met with silence. Piled high in front of the nurses station were wrapped presents donated by the local fireman which arrived after the mass exodus. Gone was the chorus of monitors beeping and mobs of staff rushing from room to room. The ward was, however, not completely empty.

Scattered throughout the ward were a handful of children who had stayed behind. The children with cancer needed their daily chemo or were too immunologically defenseless to go home. Having endured so much pain and hardship from their illness and the brutal treatment they seemed especially deserving of a holiday. Their families were there bright and smiling, desperate for something to celebrate. They savored each moment knowing that the only Christmas they were certain to have together was that day. The eery quiet in the ward made the laughter seem louder, the wrapping paper shinier, and the celebrations that much more festive. It was a day those children dearly deserved and their parents hoped to never forget. 

New Traditions
After my eldest daughter turned 3 years old, I began taking her to newborn hospital rounds on Christmas morning. After the gifts were opened and the late breakfast eaten we gathered our things, me with my stethoscope, she with her colorful toy doctor’s kit. Then we hopped into the car with the hopes of seeing a Christmas baby at the newborn nursery.

During the ride we talked about caring for babies: washing hands and gentle touching. I described the joy that this family must be feeling to have such a special gift during the holidays. I recalled the immense joy I felt when she was born only a few years before.

This new tradition is a chance for my daughter to build a sense of connectedness with the lives of others. The most amazing part of being a physician is the privilege to be a part of peoples lives at the most meaningful of moments. Hopefully my children too will make caring for others inform their life choices. I can’t think of a better way to plant this seed than bringing her to a celebration for a new life on Christmas morning.

What's your most memorable Christmas and why?

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: brooklyn

Christmas Every Day with Chef Madison Cowan

This is a guest post by Chef Madison Cowan. Madison is a dad, husband, CEO of Madison Cowan LLC, author, producer, Food Network's Iron Chef America & Chopped Grand Champion. Find him at Madison Cowan, follow him on Twitter @Madisons_Ave and on Facebook. He writes this post for NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in guest blogging for us, send an email.

madison cowanChristmastime for most of us is full on with memories. Whether of religious observances or the thought of gathering with loved ones to share cheer and compliments of the season. I recall as a child the magic of the holidays: playing in the snow, picking out a tree, the joy brought on by an original Marx Rock`em Sock`em Robots game, or the tantalizing aroma of Christmas lunch wafting throughout the house.

These are just a few traditions I’ve held onto and now share with my own family. It is equally important we not forget all those less fortunate children and families, struggling daily to make ends meet or put food on the table, or who won’t have a Christmas…again. From the age of 2 I’ve exposed my daughter to a life of volunteering and service to others as the spirit of giving extends well beyond this time of year.  

That said, one of my favourite holiday memories is making a large batch of my mum’s 7UP pound cake with my daughter a few years back to donate to a food pantry in London. Buttery, crunchy topping and feather light texture, her secret was to weigh or measure the flour again after sifting then mix everything together at once. Swans Down cake flour, a vintage metal crank sifter and an egg cracking munchkin evoked warmth of Christmases past.

The power is in the present moment, so pop in that Rudolph or Frosty DVD, put on Nat King Cole’s "The Christmas Song" and get stuck in creating new traditions with your lil’ ones…this Christmas and always.  

Jean Bean’s 7UP Pound Cake
 
Unbleached cake flour 3 cups, sifted
Unrefined cane sugar 2 cups
Unsalted butter 1 lb., softened at room temperature
Eggs 6, room temperature
Pure vanilla extract 1 tsp.
Lemon extract 2 tsp.
7up lemon soda ¾ cup, room temperature   

Heat the oven to 375F. Place the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients and blend with an electric hand mixer until smooth. DO NOT OVERMIX.  

Butter and lightly dust with flour a fluted cake tin or 2 to 3 loaf tins. Carefully pour the mixture into the tins as not to pack tight and bake mid-oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted table knife comes out clean.  

Another tip is to keep the oven door closed and check doneness only after the first 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes and remove from tins. Serve simply with fresh seasonal fruit or berries, whipped cream or icing sugar. Serves 12 to 15    

12 dadasWhat family recipe makes the holiday special for you?

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

An Involved Father Shares What's Better Than Being Santa

This is a guest post by Scott Behson. Scott runs Fathers Work and Family. He is an Associate Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and writes this post for NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." He lives with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick, in Nyack, NY. If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.

Santa 12 Dads of Christmas

Like virtually every child, I LOVED Christmas, especially when I was young enough to believe in Santa. After growing up, Christmas is still special, but it is no longer magic. That is, until you have kids and can now pass the magic along to them- and even better YOU get to be Santa. As a dad, it is never more true than during Christmas that it is better to give than to receive.

However, my favorite Christmas fatherhood moment came not when I gave, but when it became clear to me that my son, Nick, learned the joy of giving. Two Christmases ago, when he was 5, I had taken Nick to an art center a few weeks before Christmas—you know the kind, where kids can paint ceramics or make mosaics. He chose to make a small mosaic for his mother. I helped only a little bit, and the mosaic turned out great. Both the woman at the art center and I complimented his work quite a bit. He was very proud.

As Christmas approached, Nick kept talking about what he made for mom, and became increasingly excited about giving it to her. I had to keep reminding him not to ruin the surprise. Of course, he was excited about presents, too, but he was really focused on giving the mosaic to mom.

On Christmas morning, Nick wakes up, gets us out of bed and runs downstairs to the tree. There’s a tree full of presents, including some big impressive-looking boxes and a bike with a bow. But Nick hardly even noticed. He dug through the presents to find his gift for mom, and proudly gave it to her.

For me, this was a precious fatherhood moment, and was even better than getting to be Santa. At such a young age, my son learned the true meaning of Christmas. 

I hope all you fellow Santas out there have joyous holidays! 

Scott is running a promotion at his Fathers, Work and Family blog. He is donating $2 to the National Fatherhood Initiative for every new person who follows his blog by the end of the year. Please click here for details.

Question: What's one thing that makes the holiday season special for you?

Join in and share your most memorable holiday by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

photo credit: JKleeman

NFI Staff Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions

NFI staff were asked to share answers to two questions as part of "The 12 Dads of Christmas: 12 Dads. 12 Stories. 12 Memories" campaign. 

  1. What was your favorite Christmas (either as a child or as a parent)?
  2. What makes Christmas meaningful to your family today?
12 Dads of Christmas

Tim Red
Senior Program Support Consultant, Military
One of my most memorable Christmases as a Dad was held on Thanksgiving in 2005 because two days later I was deploying for a year and would miss Christmas with my Family. As I reflect, I remember how happy my oldest son was with his new laptop. And I got a laptop so I would be able to communicate with them—he then spent the rest of the day setting it up for me. It was a very happy day considering the circumstances.

One of my most memorable Christmases as a kid was the Christmas I got Major Matt Mason (an astronaut), his space station and his moon rover. I played with those toys forever.

And last but not least was the first Christmas after I got a full-time job. I had just turned nineteen and I surprised my family with some special gifts. My Family had lived in an apartment since I was in the fifth grade. The Summer after I graduated they bought a home. We had never had pets as kids but now we could and I got my Sister a puppy for one of the special gifts. She was so excited. I also got all of my family tickets to go to the Cotton Bowl. We were big fans of UT and they were getting ready to play Notre Dame for the National Championship on January 1, 1978. Just looking at my their faces was priceless when they saw those tickets.

What makes Christmas memorable for my own children? They cannot come into the living room on Christmas morning until their Mother and I are awake and ready. Then they have to line up in the hallway by age and then I “release the hounds, I mean kids” so they can charge into the living room to see what Santa has brought them. And those moments have been very frustrating for them sometimes as I tease them about when I will release them.

Erik Vecere
Vice President, Project Design & Consulting
One of the Christmases that I still laugh about occurred when I was boy back in the early 1980’s. I was so excited to get one of those football fields that you placed the little football players on and plugged it in. I don’t know what I expected, but I thought the players would do more than just vibrate aimlessly around. I remember trying to have a thankful heart, but that made it really hard!

In my family now, we always go to church on Christmas Eve and then read the Christmas story from the Bible after we get back. We then open most of our gifts on Christmas Eve, but save a few gifts for Christmas morning.

Visit our "12 Dads of Christmas" and join in to share your most memorable Christmas by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #12DadsofXmas to connect!

First Comes Pizza, Then Comes Proposal: The Christmas She Said "Yes!"

This is a guest post from Chris Delgado. Chris is a facilitator in the Family Wellness Program through the New Mexico State University Strengthening Families Initiative. He lives in Las Cruces, NM with his wife and young daughter. Chris writes this story as part of NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas." If you are interested in writing for us, send an email.

12 dads

My favorite Christmas marked a transition and a new meaning in my life. It was the year 2001 and this is when I proposed to my girlfriend who is now my wife.

We had been high school sweethearts since the 10thgrade and we were going to the same college. It was our first semester in college that fall—so talk about a major transition in moving away from home, being the first to go to college in my family, and deciding to spend my life with the most important person I know. 

But first, I had to get her parent’s permission before I asked for her hand in marriage.  

It wasn’t the most optimal way to ask her mom and dad but I did it over the phone. I was so nervous! My wife is their eldest daughter so knowing that added even more pressure. 

It was done, however, and I got approval albeit with some awkward pauses in between the conversation.

So that Christmas Eve along with a large pizza, a movie and the ring hidden under our couch,  I got on one knee, said how much she meant to me and the journey I wanted to share together and popped the question...she said yes! One of the best presents ever! We’ve been married eight years now and it’s still one of the most memorable moments in my life.

I think the most memorable thing we do as a family is order pizza (we have since 2001) and watch random movies along with Christmas movies. Some families may have Christmas dinner but we have pizza. It’s great. You should try it once. You don’t have to mess with cooking or cleaning.

This tradition for us has special meaning. The reason this started was because my wife and I were poor college students that couldn’t make the almost four-hour trip back home for Christmas. We had to do something. Since pizza was cheap and we could “rent” movies at our apartment for free, this became our thing to do.

Since 2001, you’ll find a pizza to eat and a movie with us. As it turned out, the pizza idea has worked and now we include our family back home now that mange to visit our family more often. Pizza is not yet as popular as the traditional dinner; but at least we have a small part of what my wife and I started back in 2001. 

Lastly, our 6-year-old daughter loves this idea! In her eyes, pizza trumps ham and stuffing any day of the week—especially during Christmas.

Question: What one thing makes the holiday season special for you?

Visit our "12 Dads of Christmas" and join in to share your most memorable Christmas by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #12DadsofXmas to connect!


Reflecting on Christmas Past, Present

The following is a post from Dave Sniadak, Minnesota-based award winning video and PR guy by trade and NFL videographer for fun, Dave is Creative Director at Axiom and writes at his blog HDHubby. Follow him on Twitter @DaveSniadak. Dave writes this story as part of NFI's "The 12 Dads of Christmas: 12 Dads. 12 Stories. 12 Memories." If you are interested in writing about your most memorable Christmas, send us an email.

12 Dads of Christmas

For me, Christmas was always a magical time of year. Where I lived growing up, we almost always had snow - lots of it - but not bitter biting, freeze your nose off cold that kept you locked up in the house. I would spend hours rolling snowmen and exploring the backwoods behind our house, checking for tracks and remnants of elves sneaking around the yard. And while I never went into the holiday season with a set expectation of what I'd get from Santa, he certainly never disappointed. 

My favorite Christmas was the year I got two of my most memorable gifts - cross country skis, and a Nintendo Entertainment System. While most of my friends would have holed themselves up in their rooms playing Super Mario Brothers, I strapped on my skis and explored the great outdoors. This took my winter treks to a whole new level. That said, I did spend a lot of time playing Tecmo Bowl over the next twelve months.

The one thing that was missing during all this self-exploration and technological enrichment? My dad. He was around, don't get me wrong, and as I learned later in life, he was pretty much responsible for making sure Santa took care of me. But at 11, 12, 13, who wanted to play Duck Hunt with your dad? And when it came to carving out tracks in the yard with my new skis, well, that was a solo adventure all the way. For my father, I believe, seeing the excitement and joy we had in playing with the presents "Santa" left under the tree was all he needed. Or was it? I haven't broached the subject with him out of fear of what he might actually say - that I turned him away from opportunities to play with me because I was so absorbed in my own world that I couldn't let him in.

Now, as a father myself, I see the same joy and exuberance in my own children's eyes when they tear into a new present. But as my kids celebrate the carnage that ensues during Christmas Morning, I feel a longing to play, just as much as they do. I actively participate in the building of Lego sets, toast to the holidays during tiny tot tea parties, and race toy cars along the table top. During all of this, I can't help but think, "Should I take a step back? Do I need to lessen my role in their role playing to encourage self-confidence and spur imagination?"

The holiday cliche says 'tis better to give than to receive. Can this be applied to our interactions with our kids on this most magical of mornings? The memories we receive by giving our time to our kids should be a two-fold reward - good for us, but great for them, as it hopefully sets a standard for parent-child engagement. When it comes to Christmas, I don't ever want to grow too old to play - hopefully you won't either.

Happy holidays to you and yours! 

Question: What makes Christmas special for you?

Visit our "12 Dads of Christmas" page for more on connecting with your family and other dads like you! Join in and share your most memorable Christmas by recording a video, sharing a picture, or posting a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter @TheFatherFactor. Use the hashtag #12DadsofXmas to connect!

New Tool Makes Parenting Easier

If you are reading this, chances are good that you are already involved in your child’s life. Knowing this, we want to help make it easier for you to be involved and educated about the ages and stages of your child's development. We received such great feedback on our Ages and Stages Charts in the 24/7 Dad® curriculum - developed with contributions from Dr. Kyle Pruett and Dr. Yvette Warren - we decided to bring it you in a FREE online version!


The Countdown to Growing Up tool helps dads (and moms!) know about what to expect and not to expect in terms of child growth over the months and years.

Countdown to Growing Up

You can also use the tool to make notes and save or print out your child's chart to take with you to a pediatrician visit for discussion if desired. 
Be sure to click on the Complete Survey button once you have finished using the tool to give us your feedback. We'd GREATLY appreciate it! 

To begin, simply enter the name of your child, then select his/her gender and age. If you have more than one child, we will provide you with an opportunity to enter his/her/their name(s) and age(s) after entering the information for your first child.

Depending on your child’s age, you will be taken through statements to answer Yes or No/Unsure for three targets: Physical Growth, Mental/Emotional Growth and Social Growth.

Please note, this tool is customized to track ages from birth to 18+ years and older.

Countdown to Growing Up

For example, I chose to test "Fred," a five-year-old male for purposes of this review. For a five-year-old male, the Physical Growth milestone has statements like:

  • Grows 2-3 inches but gains as little as 2-4 pounds a year. Children grow and gain weight at very different rates.
  • Clearly right or left-handed.
  • Learns to tie shoes.

You as the parent simply clicks YES or NO/Unsure box for each statement.

Using "Fred" as the example, the Mental/Emotional Growth milestone asks:

  • Uses complete sentences with many words.
  • Learns to name coins, colors, days of week, months.
  • Takes basic care of self (dress, brush teeth).
  • Helps with simple chores.

For the Social Growth milestone, statements such as:

  • More settled and focused when with others.
  • Begins to notice the outside world and where/how belongs.
  • Enjoys doing things with parent of same sex.

Again, for you the mom and dad, it’s simple to click Yes or NO/Unsure for each item.

There is a section for "Additional Notes," which is optional for placing notes to yourself that will save and/or print with the PDF of the report.

Once you have chosen YES or NO/Unsure on each statement, you are taken to a list that reads: Milestones (Your Child) Has Reached. Below is an example from our test. Your report will be customized to your child's name, gender and age.

 

Countdown to Growing Up

Additionally, a section is automatically created for your customized report that reads Milestones (Your Child) Has Not Reach, your additional notes from the previous page have now been added to the report.

Lastly, on the same report is invaluable “Tips to Help (Your Child’s Name) Grow" from physicians. This is free expert advice targeted directly at your child's gender and aged based on the information you provided in answering the statements. These tips from physicians offer you expert advice for what to watch for in your child's development as well as tips to help you grow your child. 

Countdown to Growing Up

Notice at the bottom of the above image, you have four options for what you can do with the customized report of your child:

1) View PDF
2) Save as PDF
3) Track Another Child
4) Complete a Brief Survey 

Choosing “Save as PDF” will allow you to email it to yourself and then use it on your mobile device. For instance, if you have an iPhone or iPad, the PDF from your email can be saved in iBooks on your phone or iPad for easy, mobile and paperless reference at your child’s next doctor appointment.

There are two additional options, which are Track Another Child and Complete a Brief Survey. Please feel free to use this new and free tool for all of your children. Please also take a moment and complete our survey. We would love to hear feedback from you once you use the tool.

We know parents do not have a lot of time to study their children. We hope you this tool makes your life easier. Track your child’s growth today. Believe us, you will be prepared for your child's next visit to the doctor; and your doctor will never know how simple and easy it was for you!

Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.

Learning From A Kindergartner

Writing in the Huffington Post, Dr. Ricky Choi tells of an "interview" he had with his daughter about starting kindergarten. Turns out, there was a big difference between his answers and his daugthers. Reading the conversation between Dr. Choi and his daugther may remind us dads to be more perceptive and listen to our child more intentionally. Whether your child is entering kindergarten or college, the lesson this parent learned is worth memorizing. 

sfo terminal 2Dr. Choi writes his most recent column that he learned some things on his "last-hurrah-before-kindergarten-daddy-daughter trip." After waiting in Terminal 2 of the San Francisco Airport on a flight delay and knowing that kindergarten was fast-approaching, he was filled with new thoughts and emotions. He puts in words what so many have gone through or are going through as parents, the idea of "coming to terms with seeing my daughter as a more independent person." Choi then decides to take a break in the airport terminal and ask his daughter some questions about starting school. 

Dr. Choi is not only a dad, he is a pediatrician. He spends his day tossing out parenting advice and telling parents to listen to their children. But Choi is honest and says, as a father, "his assumptions about his daughter's capabilities and view of what is best for her can put me out of touch with her actual day-to-day concerns." Isn't this true dads? Don't we often get sidetracked into what we THINK we know rather than what we really know about our kids.

Take time and read Dr. Choi's dialogue with his daughter. Choi asks his daughter honest questions about her feelings of starting school. He asks questions like:

What are you most excited to learn about?
What is the most important thing to remember in order to do well in kindergarten?

Read Choi's article and see how different each perspective is in the answers. For each question, Choi offers what he thought his daughter would say and what his daughter actually said. Armed with this new perspecitve, dads may learn to gain insight by listening first, then offering whatever is best needed; whether it be comfort or praise. This sounds elementary doens't it dads? But oh how difficult it is to listen!

For instance, Dr Choi asks his daughter, "What will be the hardest thing about going to kindergarten?" He expected her to say something like, "Challenging school lessons, homework, missing my family and the demands to be independent." Instead, her answer was, "Figuring out who will be my best friend."

Choi reveals a "telling difference" between what he expected to hear and what his daughter actually said. He observes, "I'm focused on her academic performance and meeting expectations. She is concerned about relationships with her friends and teacher."
He describes his conversation as a "humbling reminder to really pay attention -- and address what she cares about especially if I want to effectively impress on her the things I view as important." If we are honest as dads, we think we know what we are doing sometimes by offering advice or trying to "fix" things. The best approach may be offered after listening to what our child's actual concerns really are. Thanks, Dr. Choi, for making us dads see from a different angle...the angle of our child. We need this reminder in our busy lives.
We agree with Dr. Choi, parenting may have its ups and downs, but in the midst of all the emotions and expectations of a new school year; slow down, relax and listen to your child.

Parents: Where do you go to "get away" from everything, and listen to your son or daughter?  

Read Dr. Choi's full daddy-daughter interview
 
Connect with The Father Factor by RSSFacebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
photo credit: Marcin Wichary

Gold Medal Dads...Balance Work and Family

Week three of The Dad Games of 2012 is complete. Let week four begin!

The Dad Games challenges you to be “Gold Medal Dad.” Each week we provide you with a checklist of seven actions to use in connecting with your family. This week's challenge is Gold Medal Dads...Balance Work and Family.

Dad Games

Let’s face it, dad. Work has its responsibilities and so does family. Do you often feel like when you are doing well at work your familly is left to wait on you? Or if all is right on the homefront, then something at work needs attention? It can be difficult juggling all the responsibilites we dads have.

However, an important part of being a Gold Medal Dad is learning to manage the responsibilities of work and family. We will use the word “balance” this week; but we are really working to help you "manage" your responsibilities as leaders in the workplace and at home.

This week you will be challenged to be intentional about how you are prioritizing your work responsibilities alongside your family's needs. We can do a better job of working hard AND still show our families we love and value them.

Warning: this may be the most difficult week of challenges for you. This week may also be the most important and life-changing week for you as a leader. It's vital your co-workers, your wife/ex-wife and your children see you as the person who "has it together." Let's up our game, gentleman! Take the challenge and be a Gold Medal Dad!

Question: What’s the one thing you find most difficult about “balancing” work and family responsibilities?

To honor your efforts, we're giving away prizes including sports memorabilia signed by celebrity athletes and free gift packs of men's skin care products. Learn more about the prizes here. 

How can you win?!
 Enter to win by sharing your experiences and connecting with other dads in The Dad Games on FacebookTwitter, and commenting on our blog (Get more info on how to enter here!).

Subscribe to the Dad Email™ and get The Dad Games weekly checklist in your inbox.

Dad Games

Visit Gold Medal Dads…Balance Work and Family for tips on how to rethink your priorities this week. Stay tuned during the week for more.

Share and connect with other dads this week on our blog, Facebook and Twitter (#DadGames12).

Co-Parenting Through Thick and Thin

This is a guest post by Dave Taylor. If you would like to guest post on this blog, email us here

The “fantasy divorce” is that you and your partner come to a point in your lives when you realize you're just not happy, things just aren't going very well, and it would be in the best interest of your spouse and child(ren) to get a divorce and split into two separate households. In this “fantasy divorce” you'll still remain friends because you have this big life-long job of parenting that's not going to stop just because one of you leaves the house. As the years go by, you find there are things about the other person you remember you like and admire, and even when there are new partners added, you're all one big happy extended family and the kids grow up surrounded by peace, love and harmony…

…on the other hand, my experience has definitely not fit that “fantasy divorce” image…

divorceblog073012 resized 600 

By the time my wife and I decided to divorce, we'd been separated for almost a year. We then went through an incredibly difficult and contentious divorce where she had my business audited, we accused each other of being poor parents and various other things that demonstrate just how much we were both hurting -- things that were quite the opposite of the halcyon image suggested above. Mediators threw up their hands and quit on us, lawyers resigned after documents were signed, but we struggled through, trying to convince ourselves that it wasn't going too badly and since we both had the best interests of the children in mind, after all, somehow it would all end well.

Zoom forward three more years and I'm the statistically unlikely divorced dad who is highly involved with my children and we've settled on a schedule where our three kids are with me more than they are with their mom. There's still a lot of water flowing under the bridge, and there are still things we dislike about each other both as people and as parents, but we're trying to make it work.

So how the heck do we co-parent, and how do we keep the lines of communication open so we can have important discussions about our teen daughter, or our tween son's desire to be treated as if he's a high school senior, or our youngest (almost 9) and her fears around bedtime, not to mention the million day-to-day issues that crop up?

For us, it's worked out that we rarely if ever talk face-to-face, even at pick up/drop off, but instead use text messaging for immediate logistics -- "be there in five!" "do you know where their bike helmets are?" -- and email for more involved discussions, trying our very best to not judge each other, not criticize each other, and just stay focused on the topic at hand.

The myth of "walking away" from a relationship and moving to the next one, the lovely image of "turning a page" to a "new chapter" in your life, is great intention, but the reality is there are a lot of shared experiences with your former spouse, experiences that are expanded each and every time you have to communicate about your children and your co-parenting strategy, something that for us happens about every 2-3 days, and even more frequently during the school year.

With that much communication, I have no expectation that it'll be perfect and I'm not surprised when snark or petty criticism creeps in the messages I get from my ex. I expect I do the same. We're getting better, almost five years after we went our separate ways, but it's a long journey and I think it's important to recognize that our all-too-human foibles and weaknesses are just part of being an adult, a parent, and that if we have best intention and can endeavor to forgive the other person for being who they are - for better or worse - then we can proceed with the incredibly important job of co-parenting our beautiful children and making new lives for ourselves, without the ex being an invisible ball and chain around our ankles.

I don't have a perfect solution for communicating with your ex about your children; or how to create a healthy and mature arms-length partnership with them. There are reasons you got divorced, after all, and there's nothing more difficult than parenting, except perhaps parenting when the kids bounce between two households that are inevitably going to be different in rules, schedules and expectations. 

Perhaps the real secret? Keep your attention on your children and keep a sense of humor about everything. Those wee ones are surprisingly resilient and odds are very good they'll grow up to be lovely adults so long as they grow up with an involved father.

What’s the best advice you ever received about communicating with your spouse/former spouse about parenting?

 

Dad Games 12Visit Gold Medal Dads…Communicate with Mom for tips on how you can connect with your wife and/or the mother of your children. Remember to share and connect with other dads this week of The Dad Games on the blog, Facebook and Twitter (#DadGames12).

 

This is a guest post by Dave Taylor. Dave writes about life as a single father when he's not mired in the chaotic lives of his three children. Read Dave’s blog and follow him on Twitter. If you would like to guest post on this blog, email us here.

photo credit: Manu gomi


The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

Search Our Blog

Topics