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The Father Factor


NFI's 'Fatherhood Commercial of the Year': And the Winner is...

Each year, we let you pick the "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year". While it's important to point out when culture & media are doing damage to fatherhood through bad depictions of fathers, it is even more important to shine a light on the brands who “get it.” 
nfi's fatherhood commercial of the yearThe following five commercials represent what is “right” about how the culture & the media can build up fatherhood and help us in our work to ensure every child has a 24/7 Dad™. 

You voted for your favorite video from the following brands (keep reading for winner!):

Dove Men Care > "Mission: Care"
Watch as John's family reunite just outside of his U.S. military base. John is one of 300 service men to travel home thanks to the Operation Homefront and Dove Men+Care's "Mission: Care" Campaign.

Craftsman > "Made to Make"
"Surrounding you lies earth, wire, wood, glass, steal, brick and stone, just waiting to be made great. Go ahead and make something of it and inspire the rest of us. We are and always will be…made to make.”

Chevy Trucks > "Strong"

“Everybody knows he ain’t just tough, he’s strong.” Watch the video and see why we fell in love with the commercial.

Tide > "The Princess Dress"
You know that outfit your son or daughter just can't live without? Well this dad has a trick up his sleeve so he can wash his daughter's favorite princess dress. Dads, take note!

And the video with the most votes, and winning NFI's "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year" is...

Extra Gum > "Origami"
Watch this video in a safe place—it will make you cry!


Thank you for voting and congratulations to Extra Gum for winning NFI's "Fatherhood Commercial of the Year". Thank you, Extra Gum, for being a brand who understands the unique and irreplacable role a father plays in a child's life. Thank you for reminding us that fatherhood changes everything. 

"Home Run" on DVD July 23!

"I spent a lifetime looking to replace the love I didn't get from my father." —Cory Brand

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the DVD release of Home Run on July 23.

Can't view the video? Click here.

You may recall, we wrote a blog post for this faith-based film while it was in theaters called The Possibility of Freedom. If you love us, click and read the full post, here's an excerpt from that profound and life-changing blog post:

  • Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull DurhamFor the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements: 1) There's something bigger than yourself for which to live. 2) It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life. In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself.

Want more details on the film? Keep reading...

From the Home Run website:

  • Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control. Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. 
  • Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible. As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future…and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.
What People Have Said After Watching Home Run...
home run the movie dvd
"Home Run is a film of great hope." —Rick Warren, Pastor and Best-Selling Author
"It's a wonderful movie. It touches your heart in a way that will change your life." —Brett Butler, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"Home Run is a powerful parable showing us what God can do for a person who hits bottom. Many who come from dysfunctional homes or deal with addictions will find a ray of hope as they watch this film. This is a tool churches and ministries can use now and for decades to come." —Michael Catt, Best-Selling Author; Senior Pastor, Sherwood Baptist Church; Executive Producer, Fireproof and Courageous
"Home Run is not only a great movie, it's a story of hope that people have to see. " —Dwight Evans, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"It's a powerful movie. I have to be honest it was emotional for me to watch." —Ben Zobrist, All-Star Baseball Player

Follow Home Run via Social...

Home Run DVD releases on July 23. See our Home Run page for more details. 

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6 Summer Reading Tips for You and Your Child

Summer is a great time to slow down and connect with your kids. Stop laughing, I'm serious! You can slow down! Whether it's a vacation or evenings at home, Summer is a great time to connect with your child through reading.

My oldest daughter reads on her own now, so she rarely wants me to read aloud to her. In fact, when I try to read aloud to her, she quickly takes the book and starts reading aloud herself! Realizing how quickly she's growing up, this Summer may be the last one my other daughter (just a little younger) is young enough to need me for reading.


I am determined to make the most of reading to my girls this Summer. Hopefully, they will learn how important reading is from watching me. If you read my list and think of something I missed, tell me in the comment section.

"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." —Mark Twain

Here's my plan for connecting with my kids through reading during the Summer break...

1.  Be the Example.
When your kid sees you reading, he will understand reading is important and fun. The younger your child, the better this works. This doesn't mean you have to be seen walking around the house with an encyclopedia (remember those?). But, be sure you can be found reading the newspaper (remember those?) or a magazine on your iPad. The important thing is to model to your child the importantance of reading.

2. Read Aloud with Your Child.
This probably won't work if you have older kids, but if you have young kids, be sure to red aloud to them. Reading together brings you and your child close and allows for a connection unlike any other. Reading usually opens opportunities for conversation as well. Simply asking questions like, “Why do you think he did that?” or “What else could she have said?” can create meaningful conversation between you and your child. For the older kid, try reading the same book as your teen and seek out ways to talk about the book together. 

3. Make Books Easily Available.
No brainer? Not really. Think about this: Are your child's books on the low self where he can reach them? Simply having books around the house with all kinds of topics may help your child get curious about a topic he wouldn't have otherwise considered. Be sure you have several topics of possible interest around the house, from space and flight to geology and geography. In general, the more pictures the better. Remeber, you're developing curiosity for reading, the books need not be all text!

4. Let Your Child Pick the Book.
Ask your child what her favorite topic is; after discussing it, spend some time together shopping for the best book on that topic. You could search and buy online or simply visit your local library. The point here is to be simple and be together. This doesn't have to cost you anything other than time. And I'm pretty sure you won't regret the time spent!

5. Make Reading a Habit.
Depending on your schedule, the best time to read may be morning, evening or at bed time. Whatever time you pick, try and create a routine over the Summer. If you're child is human, he will probably say, "I'm bored!" over the long Summer days. Try setting a daily time to read so you avoid telling your kids, "Oh, you're bored, read a book!" Let's work to not equate boredom with reading! Evening tends to work at my house. Mornings are busy and at night, well, my kids are wild at night. It's often difficult to get my girls settled down before bed enough to pay attention and read a book. However, Kids love routine, even if they hate it at first, trust me!

6. Connect Books to Life. 
Going camping or to the beach this Summer? Find a book that talks about camping or the ocean and read it a few days before traveling. I promise, the book will come alive to your kid. Then, while on the trip, you can refer back to the book to create more interest in reading and learning.

Try these places for age-specific books and activities related to reading:

What are you and your child reading this Summer?

photo credit: Simon Cocks

'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Minion Mayhem & VIP Experience

A three-day weekend that involves flying with your six-year-old daughter to Universal Orlando for a special Despicable Me 2 and VIP Experience weekend is time well spent.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

Bella and I connected over the weekend like never before. We attended a special screening of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 (in theaters July 3!), rode "Minion Mayhem", went on a scavenger hunt across both parks and were given a special VIP Experience of Universal Orlando.

First, there were "Blue Men"... From the paint, colors and audience interaction, I enjoyed seeing Bella's amazement at all the interesting visuals of the show.

After the show, we met one of the "Blue Men." Bella was scared and wasn't excited to have her picture taken with him. Noticing Bella's tentative stares, the Blue Man slowly walked over to us, and without a word, slowly took my iPhone from my hand and proceeded to snap a selfie. This may be something the Blue Men do every night, but for Bella and I, we felt like rockstars as we left the show!

Here's the pic...this Blue Man is not only an on-stage talent, he's pretty good with an iPhone too.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, blue man group,

The Blue Man is actually holding my iPhone for this picture!

Minion Mayhem
This ride starts in Gru’s living room! Gru recruits you for one of his latest villian experiments. This experiment? He wants to turn you into a Minion!

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Here's Bella standing in Gru's living room!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,You wait in line in Gru's living room. The ride hasn't started yet!

After surviving "Minion training" you are now a minion. Margo, Edith and Agnes' Adoption Anniversay is coming up and the girls aren't sure Gru's remembers. I won't give away much of the ride; but know the storyline of Gru adopting the girls plays a major role. As a dad who works for NFI, I was blown away by the creative and powerful adoption theme in this ride.

After the Minion Mayhem ride, Bella fell in love...

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, fluffy unicorn,

Scavenger Hunt
Bella and I were on a mission! We received our clues and with iPhone in hand, we set off to find our treasures. The clues from our hunt took us all across Universal Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.

We gathered clues at Crusty Land, found the Transformers Allspark and much-much-much more across the both theme parks. As you can see, we are quite the dynamic duo!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,

VIP Experience
We were treated like rockstars during the Universal Orlando VIP Experience. We didn't wait in a single line. We were personally escorted with a tour-guide on a walking tour of both parks. And just to brag, we had exclusive backstage access and learned all kinds of interesting stories from our tour guide! Note: this was Bella's first-ever trip to a theme park. She is now spoiled and doesn't yet know about standing and waiting in lines!

On the VIP Experience, we rode Shrek 4-D, where the only thing I remember is getting donkey snot sprayed on three times. Donkey snot is cold, in case you're wondering.

The Spider-Man ride is amazing. All Bella talked about after it was the flames and how she felt the heat from the fire! I honestly raised my 3-D glasses a couple of times during the ride to see what was a screen and what wasn't. 

Our adventure took us through Dr. Seuss Land too! The Cat in the Hat™ ride takes you through the pages of Dr. Seuss's great book. You'll spin like crazy as Thing One and Thing Two make a mess and try to clean up before mom gets home!

We rode The High in the Sky Suess Trolly Train Ride and the Seuss Caro-Suess-El, too! 

And as you can see from the pictures below, Bella met Big Time Rush!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, vip tour, big time rush,

Transformers: The Ride 3-D
This ride wasn't for Bella...this ride was for me! As a boy who grew up pretending to be Optimus Prime (yes, I just dated myself!). It was awesome to ride with the Autobots against the Decepticons. I was surprised when Universal announced we could have a private ride of this new adventure before it was to open this summer. This ride did not disappoint. I honestly couldn't tell what was real and what was the 3-D screen. And the simulated speed of flying through the air and working with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee was something the 10-year-old boy inside of me wants to do again!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, vip tour, transformers the ride,

I mentioned Miss Bella fell in love after riding Minion Mayhem earlier. Well, The Sanders Family is happy to announce a new member of our family: Fluffy Unicorn Sanders! Please know Fluffy Unicorn is well taken care of! She can been seen below in our return luggage—my bag to be exact, at the hotel for a late night of cards (Despicable Me cards!) and buckled safely for our return flight! 

Since returning from Florida, Fluffy Unicorn has been busy with her new life in DC. She has camped out with Girl Scouts and enjoys multiple snuggles per day and night. Fluffy Unicorn is currently spending the weekend with my parents in Tennessee. Fluffy Unicorn Sanders is a great addition to our family. We need only adopt an additional Fluffy Unicorn for Bella's younger sister, Gabby!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, fluffy unicorn, travel

This three-day daddy-daughter weekend was time well spentBella and I not only have the memories to look back on, but we have the pictures and Despicable Me swag to prove it! I am grateful to Universal for the opportunity to be a rockstar dad for my Bella. Thank you, Universal, for understanding the importance of family and fatherhood. 

Be sure to check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and follow the minions online.

So, how are you and your kids spending the summer?
The Father Factor Blog

This post is part 2 of 2 of my daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Orlando for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covered the movie and special "Despicable" parties. This post covers Minion Mayhem and Universal Orlando VIP Experience. 

Dad Tips from "White House Down" Stars Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum at DC Screening

White House Down reveals what a dad will do to protect his daughter. While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman must take action to save his daughter and protect the president.

white house down poster

As a dad of two young daughters, I can't help but like the stars in this film. This special screening was Channing Tatum's first public apperance since becoming a new dad (to a daughter). Jamie Foxx is a dad of two daughters. So, of course I was excited to attend the special Mamarazzi® event in Washington, DC for their new film White House Down. 

White House Down is a film about a dad trying to save his daughter. As a dad, I enjoyed the film and think it's worth watching for several reasons:

1. It's All Action.
Think Bruce Willis and Die Hard! Enough said. Yeah, that whole "White House Down" thing isn't just a cute title. They mean it.

2. It's Really Funny.
Of course the explosions are amazing. That's why the "total destruction" part made number one on my list. However, the film's comedic delivery, for me, helps make the whole idea and storyline even more believable. If this film didn't include the real-life humor—it wouldn't be half as entertaining.

3. It's All About A Dad Trying to Save His Daughter.
White House Down shows a strong example of fatherhood in John Cale. Cale will stop at nothing to try and save his daughter—all while saving the President.

I enjoyed watching the film and hearing Jamie and Channing talk fatherhood and parenting tips at the special screening was a major bonus. Interested in Channing and Jamie's dad tips? Watch this clip from The Moms and get to the theater June 28!     

Can't view the video? Visit here.

From White House Down: Capitol Policeman John Cale (Channing Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, when the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation's government falling into chaos and time running out, it's up to Cale to save the president, his daughter, and the country.

Watch the official trailer of White House Down:

 Can't see the video? Visit here.

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'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Despicable Me 2 Adventure

When Universal contacted me about flying my daughter and I to Florida, it took me seconds to respond in the affirmative. Once all was squared away and I knew we were flying to Florida, I had to tell my six-year-old daughter. But how much should I tell her?

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

After announcing plans for our Despicable Me 2 weekend at a hotel—I realized I needed to be careful so as not to give too many details. To keep the surprises, I decided to give Bella one clue per day leading up to our big weekend. Her questions clearly reveal what was on her six-year-old mind that particular day. My answers are in parenthesis:

  1. How are we getting there? Car or plane? (Plane)
  2. What state is it in? (Florida) 
  3. Do they have oranges there? Maybe like, an orange tree?! (Yes)
  4. Can I take golf clubs and tennis racquet? (No) 
  5. Does Florida have plant & coconut trees?! Can we make a coconut drink?! (Yes)
  6. Will there be tv in our hotel? (Yes)
  7. Can we stay up all night? (Yes) 
  8. Will there be soda? (Yes)
  9. May I drink soda while there? (Yes) 
  10. Does Florida have poison ivy? (Yes)
  11. Does Florida have blue skies? Is it rainy? (Yes)
  12. Does Florida have Popsicles? (Yes)
  13. Does Florida have spooky houses? (Yes, probably.)
  14. Does Florida have Despicable Me costumes or statues? (Yes) 
  15. Does Florida have showers? (Yes)
  16. Does Florida have toilets? (Yes)
  17. Does Florida have any flowers? (Yes)
  18. Does Florida have any pizza? (Yes)
  19. Does Florida have any birthstone stores? (I'm not sure—probably.)
  20. Does Florida have any palm trees? (Yes) 
  21. Does Florida have any water? (Yes, most likely.)
  22. Does Florida have dirt? (Yes)
  23. Does Florida have any leaves? (Yes, bunches of them.)
  24. Does Florida have any big leaves? (Yes, lots.)
  25. Does Florida have people? (Yes, lots.)
  26. Does Florida have water bottles? (Yes)
As you can see, this "26 Questions" game was the perfect plan! I was able to give her some information, but the entire weekend was still a surprise to Bella. She simply knew we were flying in a plane to Florida, watching Despicable Me 2 and staying in a hotel. That's pretty much it. Everything that follows was a surprise! Yay for parenting secrets!

We first found Florida on our map, Orlando to be exact:
IMG 4670 resized 600Then, we packed. Ever packed with a six-year-old? Yeah, it's fun. Bell packed as if she wanted daddy to get frisked. She wanted to take her collection of 50 state quarters and upward of 15 fluffy bears. I managed to get the fluffy bear count to three. :
despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru
We arrived in Florida at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (only the best for us!). This "Minion Basket" greeted us in our room and we were handed these (VIP badges):
despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gruThen, we were whisked away to the Despicable Me 2 premiere at Universal Studios where very large popcorns and sodas awaited. We enjoyed the film. I've never seen a human consume so much popcorn and drink without using the restroom... Bell had lots of soda too!
After the show, it was the after party. The Minion Party:
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We partied with characters from the film:

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The next morning, we had a sensible, Despicable Breakfast:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

We enjoyed a full day at Universal Studios, including a scavenger hunt and VIP Tour on Saturday (stay tuned for blog post 2!). Then, we attended a special reception...Despicable Dessert:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal

Our daddy-daughter weekend was an absolute blast. The opportunity to hop on a plane and fly to Florida with Bella (not her first flight—but her first time traveling to Florida!) and spend quality time creating memories, just us two, was an experience Bella may never forget—I know I won't. Every time we see the "Universal" branding at the start of a film or advertisement; we will both be reminded of our 'despicable' trip. Thank you, Universal, for making me look like the best dad ever to my Bella.

Check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and be sure to follow all the "despicable" social online.

Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Despicable Me 2 Clip: Never Get Older 


About Despicable Me 2
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions...and a host of new and outrageously funny characters. Release Date: July 3, 2013 Genre: 3D-CG comedy adventure Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias Directed by: Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin Written by: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

The Father Factor Blog

Follow Despicable Me 2

This post is part 1 of 2 of a daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Studios Florida for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covers the movie and the "Despicable" parties at Universal Studios. Post 2 covers the "Minion Mayhem" ride and the Universal Studios Florida VIP experience

Ever Wonder What The Sims™ has to Say about Marriage, Fatherhood & Children?

The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Email here.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog—heck, if you know anything about NFI—you know that we’re not shy about sharing the research on the importance of marriage to responsible, involved, committed fatherhood. Just in case you aren’t aware of this compelling research, children raised in a home with their two biological, married parents do better, on average, on measures of physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being compared to children who grow up in single-parent homes. Moreover, marriage is the primary institution in all cultures that connects fathers to their children.  

photo[3]While growing up in a home with a single parent doesn’t doom a child to a life that lacks any semblance of well-being (I am the child of divorced parents), the evidence for the increased risk is overwhelming. And yet popular culture continues to send messages that it’s no big deal for unmarried couples to have children. So it wasn’t a surprise to me when my wife shared a sponsored ad that appeared on one of my daughter’s Facebook account for a relatively new game in The Sims family of games called The Sims™ FreePlay. (Yes, we have access to and monitor our kids’ social-media accounts.)    

If you haven’t already examined the screen shot in this post, do so now. (Please pardon the poor quality of the image.) What did you notice? That’s right! Baby is already here—before dad pops the question. In defense of the creator of The Sims™ franchise, Electronic Arts (EA), part of the description of the game indicates that marriage should come before having children: “Create up to 31 customized Sims from head to toe. Let your Sims get married, make babies, and then watch them grow into toddlers and pre-teens.” Even the text at the top of the screenshot mentions marriage before children. Still, a picture says a thousand words and burns a message in people’s minds much more effectively than does the written word.  

Being the curious guy that I am, I wondered whether I might be missing something given the disconnect between the image in the screenshot and the accompanying text. That’s because The Sims™ franchise is known the world over. It is, dare I say it, the most successful group of family-themed video games in history. Look at the screenshot again. Did you notice that 1 million people play The Sims™ FreePlay?! And it just came out this year, so that number is likely to grow into a much larger player base. The image indicates that players can create babies before their characters marry and do so “wherever they go.” (What a frightening thought! A baby here, a baby there, a baby everywhere! Oh look, honey. Remember when we created this one? I completely forgot about him!)  

I did some searching through Google and found that EA installed a “governor” in this new game that prevents players from having babies before their characters marry! How cool is that?! In fact, players must proceed through a series of goals before they reach the “Get Engaged” goal. They must attain the engagement goal before they can choose the “Propose Marriage” option at which time the proposing “Sim” presents a ring. The romantic partner must accept the proposal, of course, and then the couple can marry. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the chance of the partner saying “yes” increases with the cost/expensiveness of the ring—not exactly a positive message, but that’s fodder for another post.) Only after they marry can the player choose the “Crib” option to create a crib for the couple’s home. The player can then create the baby. And apparently, the player has to have saved enough money for the couple to have a baby, thus sending the message that kids are expensive, so be prepared.  

With the ubiquity of consumer products in our culture, the ads and images from companies—indeed, the products themselves—send critical messages about what’s acceptable in our culture. That’s why NFI partners with companies, such as Dove® Men+Care™ sponsor our NFI’s Dads Club™, to send positive, constructive messages about responsible fatherhood.

We also work with movie-production companies, such as 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures, to engage the culture by discussing fatherhood in movies. (For information on our work with companies, click here.) Unfortunately, some companies aren't concerned about the messages they send related to fatherhood. That’s why we applaud when companies like EA create products that send constructive messages that benefit our nation’s children and, in this case, children the world over. I still haven’t figured out how the couple can have babies “wherever they go,” but in the interest of time, I’ll leave that research for another day.

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"Man of Steel" and Fatherhood

"You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive towards, they will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall, but in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders." —Jor-El

man of steelAs a guy who grew up watching Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain fly through the air as Superman, I was excited to see the new Man of Steel that was released Friday.

Fans of Superman will love the film. The film has been ridiculed for the seemingly extra 45 minutes of excess explosions — of which I can't disagree. But all in all, the film is better than any previous Superman and places the franchise firmly in same line with other great superhero films of the last few years.

Aside from all the lengthly explosions, there's a real story that sticks with how Superman was originally conceived. We learn the "Man of Steel" was born on Krypton to Jor-El (Russell Crowe), has an adoptive earthly dad (Kevin Costner), and must save the planet all while figuring out whether to use the gifts he has to help people or not.

When I watched the previous Superman movies, I was not a father myself. Now that I'm a dad, I watched Man of Steel through the eyes of Jor-El and Jonathan Clark. Watching as a dad, I was reminded of two things.

1)  Great Fathers Guide Their Kids.
Throughout the film, Superman has flashbacks to Smallville, Kansas and in doing so, he finds his true self. Meanwhile, the audience gathers information to aid in understanding the depth of his “Man of Steel” character.

We watch as Clark finds his “Fortress of Solitude”. It is there he finds his suit and learns the crest on the suit is a symbol of hope. In this same scene, Jor-El explains exactly how Clark has been given certain powers. It is only after this moment that Clark begins to push his own limits—eventually learning to fly. Without such guiding from Jor-El, it's debatable that Superman would ever learn to fly, literally and figuratively. 

"Every person can be a force for good, free to forge his own destiny."  —Jor-El

In another flashback, Clark talks with his earthly father, Jonathan. Jonathan, in explaining how he came to live with "The Kents", says to Clark, “I have to believe you were sent here for a reason…Even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out why that is.” In a great father-son moment, Jonathan says to Clark, “You have to decide what kind of man you want to be. Good character or bad, that man will change the world.”

“You have to decide what kind of man you want to be. Good character or bad, that man will change the world.” —Jonathan Clark

2)  Great Fathers Put Their Kids First.
Superman had a great biological father in Jor-El and a great adoptive father in Jonathan Kent. Superman/Clark Kent struggles to live as a human/super-human throughout the film. This tension unfolds in the two fatherly relationships of the film.

With Jor-El, the idea of living and using super powers is a given. In stark contrast, Jonathan struggles to keep his son's powers from the scrutiny of public for fear of misunderstanding or unneeded attention. Living in that tension between being human and super-human is where Man of Steel wins.

In the end, Man of Steel depicts a man whose biological father and adoptive father sacrifice themselves to save their son. It's a film that depicts sacrificial love and selflessness as the true nature of fatherhood, making it a movie worth watching...dare I say...a "symbol of hope" for our generation.

“Man of Steel" is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). 

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NFI and Life of Dad Present Fatherhood Movie of the Year Award™

"The Fatherhood Movie of the Year Award is given each year to the film that “best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood in children’s lives."

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 31, 2013—At a ceremony yesterday at Ulysses S. Grant High School, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and Life of Dad (LOD) presented the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year Award™ to director Andy Fickman for his work on Parental Guidance.

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The public chose Parental Guidance -- via a contest on NFI’s Facebook page -- to receive the Award, which is given each year to the film that “best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood in children’s lives.”

NFI nominated Parental Guidance (directed by Fickman; starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott) for its realistic depiction of the generational struggles of a pair of loving grandparents, for its positive portrayal of the importance of marriage, and for the important roles the father and grandfather play in their families’ lives.

On The Father Factor Blog, Fickman said that the takeaway for dads from the film is twofold: “One is a reminder to dads that we do play a part, we do have a role, and that role never changes. It’s easy to say, let your mom handle that, but it’s important that we’re handling that as well,” said Fickman.

Fickman also said, “I think it’s also that we have different experiences that we are bringing to the table, and a child lucky enough to have both a mother and father can give them different pieces of wisdom.”

After accepting the Award, Fickman took questions from Grant High School students interested in pursuing careers in entertainment.

andyfickmanstudents resized 600Throughout the month of February, voters were able to watch the trailers of the four nominated films and vote for their favorite once per day through Oscar night. The contest is part of NFI's efforts to shine a light on cultural messages that highlight the unique and irreplaceable role that fathers play in their children's lives. Given the power of film in shaping public perceptions, NFI applauds the makers of Parental Guidance for their efforts in depicting fatherhood in a realistic, positive, and powerful way. NFI started the Fatherhood Movie of the Year™ contest in 2012, when Courageous was selected by the public as the winner for the 2011 movie year.

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What Kind of Dad Are You?

“He does not need a commanding officer; he needs a father.” —Faia Raige, Wife of Cypher Raige, Mom of Kitai Raige in the new film, After Earth.

At NFI, we often talk about discipline. It comes with the territory. It’s worth pointing out that “discipline” comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “to teach; to guide.” Dads often mistake “discipline” for “punishment”, which means to “penalize” for doing something wrong. In the new film After Earth, we get a glimpse of what happens when a dad must learn how to connect with his son.


In the film, under Cypher Raige’s (Will Smith) command is a young recruit named Kitai (Jaden Smith), a rebellious teen. Kitai is also Cypher's son, and the father is frustrated at what he thinks is a lack of discipline.  

Cypher's wife, Faia, urges Cypher to see Kitai's behavior as a plea for his father's love and attention. At her request, Cypher takes Kitai along with him on a mission, but an asteroid storm interrupts their course and a crash landing leaves teenage Kitai and his legendary father stuck on earth.  But “Earth” isn’t as you may think. This is Earth 1,000 years after cataclysmic events have forced humanity’s escape.  

This film forced us to think about what kind of fathers we are and what kind we should be. If we’re being honest, most dads think that discipline means “to control” rather than “to teach or to guide.”

As a result, we use fear when we punish. Our role as a dad is to be a model. Modeling is one of the most important ways we dads teach our children. Dads who say one thing but do another confuse their children because they don’t “walk the walk.” Dads, we must understand what kind of parent we are so we can make the correct adjustments. Chances are, you’ll fall into one of five fathering styles:

1. The Dictator.
This Dad is always strict and never nurtures. He leads with control and enforces rules with an iron hand. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, but rarely what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “My way or the highway.”

2. The King.
This Dad is strict and nurtures when needed. He leads by example. His children know what he doesn’t want them to do, as well as what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let me show you the way.”

3. The Joker.
This Dad is never strict and rarely nurtures. He jokes a lot and makes fun of his children. His children don’t know what he doesn’t want them to do or what he wants them to do. This Dad says, “Let’s just have fun.”

4. The Follower.
This Dad is sometimes strict and sometimes nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and backs her up when needed. His children know some of things he doesn’t want them to do and some of the things he does want them to do. This Dad says, “Do whatever Mom says.”

5. The Dreamer.
This Dad is never strict and never nurtures. He lets Mom take the lead on discipline and doesn’t get involved with it. His children don’t know what he wants them to do or what he doesn’t want them to do. This Dad says, “Whatever. Just leave me alone.”  

When considering which discipline style you most associate with, ask yourself, “Is this the best style for my children/my family/my involvement?”  

In After Earth, we see a glimpse of a “dictator” dad who learns to be a “king”. We are reminded that even if we aren’t perfect fathers, we can be better.  

Question: What style of discipline did your father use? What style do you use? Why? 

Visit NFI’s After Earth page for the trailer and more information. See the new film in theaters May 31.

New Father-Son Adventure: "After Earth" Opens May 31

"Danger is real. Fear is a choice." —Cyper Raige (Will Smith), father in After Earth

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National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the upcoming father-son adventure, After Earth, opening May 31. 

A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

Facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash, father and son must learn to work together and trust one another if they want any chance of returning home. 

Although the film is set in a future world filled with evolved creatures and alien enemies, at its core is the relationship between a father and son whose bond has been strained by past trauma.

The film is set at that inevitable time when a father has to let his child go, and watch them live out the lessons they’ve been taught.

Fathers will leave the theater with a better understanding of the pressures of being a son, and sons will empathize with just how trying it can be for a parent to watch their child come of age. Stay tuned to our After Earth page for more details on the upcoming film.

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Mayweather Calls Guerrero "A True Warrior" After Fight

This past Saturday night, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero entered the ring with Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr who then stood undefeated at 43-0. After the fight, Mayweather stands undefeated at 44-0.

Guerrero ShotWe at NFI followed this fight because everything we knew of Robert Guerrero pointed to him being a great example of an involved, responsible and committed husband and father. Anytime we can highlight great examples from sports and entertainment, we will. We think dads and husbands can learn by seeing real examples within others' life stories.

As someone who hasn't really followed boxing since Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!, I found Guerrero's story to be inspiring. He made me think about what "a true warrior" really looks like today. He reminded me of three things that make a true warrior—lessons I hope to live by as a husband and father. Here they are... 

1.  A True Warrier Isn't Defined By His Day Job.
No matter the stage of life, your job shouldn't define you. This is especially true if you have a job you love; it's much easier to define yourself by your job if you like it. That's a problem. Watching Guerrero's interviews over the last few weeks reminded me as he said himself, "Boxing is what I do, not who I am." Dads, are you defining yourself with your position at the company? In a day when I've heard marketing heads at brands say repeatedly, "Men don't define themselves by being fathers and husbands", Guerrero seems to live by a different, better standard. 

2. A True Warrior Keeps His Family Close.
It's undeniable from seeing Guerrero's story that he was and is a good husband and father. From sacrificing his career in order to take care of his wife to being involved with his children, Guerrero could easily distance himself from family given his talent as a boxer. He could spend a fortune on a different team that isn't family. For instance, his dad is his trainer. I'm fairly certain Guerrero can afford to have other trainers. But he understands that his father is the best for him. Guerrero picked his team with family in mind. Dads, have you picked your job or lifestyle with your family in mind? 

3. A True Warrior Hates Losing More than He Loves Winning.
I saw a postfight interview where Guerrero, tired and drained from just finishing 12 rounds with Mayweather says, and I'm paraphrasing, "I'd like to get in the ring with Mayweather again. I hear he has a contract for five more fights!" That's a fighter right there. Guerrero likes to win, but he hates to lose. Dads, do you hate to lose? "Losing" for dads could mean a number of things, but might I suggest, we lose if we aren't being 24/7 dads for our kids. In order to be involved, we must hate not being involved so much that we actually plan and do things to be involved.  

I learned these three things and more from covering Guerrero the last few weeks. There's a lot to learn from his life. Which begs the question: what if someone followed you around for weeks? Would they learn anything? Would they learn the importance of being a husband and father? Would they learn the above lessons by watching you? Said differently, would they see you as "a true warrior"?

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Robert Guerrero: Husband. Father. Fighter.

Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero fights Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr on Saturday, May 4 at 9pm ET. Mayweather is undefeated at 43-0.  

Guerrero Training ShotYou may be wondering why NFI is talking so much about this fight. The reason we're so interested in this fight is because everything we know of Robert Guerrero points to him being a great example of an involved, responsible and committed husband and father. We dads and husbands can learn a lot by watching and listening to him, so we are encouraging everyone to watch the fight if they can. Here's why...

Guerrero as Husband
Guerrero vacated his title and turned down three major championship fights to be his wife's caretaker as she battled cander. The video below tells the story of his wife getting diagnosed and having to get a bone marrow transplant. Guerrero was recently asked about this process and he replied, "Boxing is what I do, not who I am." I love that. He gets it.

Can't view the video? Click here to watch Robert Guerrero on taking care of his wife.

Guerrero as Father
Guerrero understands the importance of being a dad. I've watched several videos and interviews from Guerrero. I recently heard him say, "My goal is to be an example to the youth." He says after his matches are over, he plans to work with children to pass on the lessons his father taught (is teaching) him. You see, Guerrero's father is his trainer.

Can't view the video? Click here to see Robert Guerrero discuss his father as trainer.

Guerrero as Fighter
Guerrero recently said, "Styles makes fights. I have the style to beat Mayweather." His nickname is "The Ghost" because, as he puts it, "You can't hit what you can't see." From being a husband through trials to being an involved father and family man, we see that Guerrero is a fighter both inside the ring and outside of it. Guerrero says he has the style to beat Mayweather:

  • height
  • left handed
  • fast hands
  • good footwork
  • can fight inside and outside
  • has power in both hands

Guerrero talked about having a legacy in one interview. He remarked, "You want to fight the best fighters out there..." Come Saturday night, Guerrero gets his chance. See Guerrero and Mayweather's first encounter here...

Can't view the video? Click here to see Mayweather/Guerrero first encounter.

You don't need to care about boxing to learn lessons from Guerrero's life. He has been tested and found capable. Being a man means being a fighter. A man must fight to cherish his wife. He must fight to balance work and be attentive to his children's needs. Are you a fighter for your family? It seems to me, the world may need more Robert Guerrero's. Get more details on Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Tune in for the fight: Saturday, May 4 at 9pm ET.

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You Can Win $200+ Prize Pack for "Mayweather VS Guerrero"!

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is excited to partner and promote the upcoming boxing match, Mayweather vs Guerreroon Saturday May 4 at 9pm ET.

Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero takes on Floyd “Money” Mayweather JR for the WBC Welterweight Championship Saturday, May 4 9pm ET/ 6pm PT.

You can watch the fight for free from your sofa! Order pizza and invite some friends over for a watch party. You'll have no traffic, no parking, no lines, no crowds, fight is broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Showtime PPV directly to your tv! 

What You Can Win:

  • 5 T-shirts
  • 5 Posters
  • $200 Visa Gift Card (Winner can order the Pay-Per-View fight and buy food/drink for Watch Party)

Here's How You Win:

  1. LIKE National Fatherhood Initiative on Facebook.
  2. Follow @TheFatherFactor on Twitter.
  3. Tweet this message on Twitter: I'm watching the #MayDay fight Saturday 5/4 at 9pmET with @TheFatherFactor. Who's with me? #DadsClub
  4. Do all three (3) things by tomorrow (Thursday May 2nd) at 10am ET for your chance to win the prize pack. One winner to be chosen. We have to pick quick—so we have time to mail prize pack to the winner's house before the fight!

Visit our MayDay page for more details on the fight!

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The Possibility of Freedom

At NFI, we like to say dads should be "involved, responsible and committed." In the new movie Home Run, we see what happens when someone isn't "involved, responisble or committed."

If you can't see the video above, visit our Home Run page for details.

Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements:

  1. There's something bigger than yourself for which to live.
  2. It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life.

In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself. While Home Run doesn't have Kevin Costner, I decided to break from watching The Bodyguard and review this film. As I watched, I was reminded of several life lessons. Here are two lessons that stuck out with me:

  1. Change Takes Work...
    Cory Brand, the big league baseball star in this film, makes his share of mistakes. In one game, he skips the third base when running bases and this sets everything in motion for a big crash in Cory's life. The interesting thing is, as Cory struggles to recover from his mistakes, he is given the job of overseeing the third base duties of a local little league team. Cory learns that to right his wrongs, he'll need to be ready to work. 
  2. ...But You Can Change.
    As long as we are living, there's time to change, to make things right. As long as you have time, change is possible. Cory goes from playing in the big leagues to overseeing a little league team. In this film, we see a real picture of struggle against past and years of mistakes. 

This film is full of important messages. Sometimes, like in real life, the mistakes in this film aren't easy to watch. But if you watch closely, you'll leave the theater reminded that there are things bigger than yourself for which to live, that purpose takes sacrifice, that change isn't easy, but change is possible. 

In your opinion, what's the greatest sports movie ever made?

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