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The Father Factor

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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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Fatherhood Supports Strong Moms & National Family Month

nfiWe often say at NFI, we are about the business of "increasing the proportion of children who grow up with 24/7 dads." What does this mean? Well, it means we are happy to align ourselves with people and organizations which work promote protecting children and stengthening families.

It’s not easy to be close as a family today. In today’s world, moms, dads and kids all have things tugging at their calendars. We must work together as families in order to stay close and connect with any true meaning.

In this busy world, moms and dads sense the pressure to make the “perfect” parenting decisions, only to be judged or criticized by other parents. Moms get the attacks of judgement on topics and personal decisions like going back to work and feeding the baby. Dads get judged on things like their position at the company, whether to stay home and/or how their kids act in public. From styles of discipline to 8pm bed times, I'm reminded of the saying, "opinions are like armpits—everyone has one and well...(you may know the rest!)."

Take the StrongMoms Empowerment Pledge

This is why we promote the StrongMoms Empower™ campaign by Similac® (a call-to-action to create a more supportive and less judgmental environment to empower moms to be confident about the decisions they make for their children and their families) and National Family Month (NFM) (which occurs every year between Mother’s and Father’s Day).

National Famliy Month's goal is to "Build a nation of confident kids by growing stronger and healthier families and encouraging families to support one another." Anything we can do to shed light on this movement, we stand ready. 

national family month

We thought it was a perfect time to consider our families and how to make them stronger. Strong families share many of the same qualities. Here are a few examples:.

Build Trust
Strong families build trusting relations by following through with promises.

Show Commitment
Strong families feel like a team. They share traditions like having a family picnic on the Fourth of July or taking walks together after dinner. Family members show commitment to the family by making time for family events and making sacrifices for one another.

Communicate
Members of strong families talk to one another about important decisions and daily plans. They discuss feelings as well as day-to-day activities at school or work. When there are conflicts, strong families take time to cool down before responding. They don't bottle up their anger or let it get out of hand. They talk about possible solutions to problems and work together to carry out the best solution.

Grow Through Crises
All families experience crises. Strong families use these experiences to learn and grow. They know even bad experiences can bring about good changes and help them to become closer. They admit problems instead of hiding them. They seek help when needed.

Spend Time Together
Strong families spend time together, talking, reading, playing games, taking walks, cooking. Some special times involve closeness, like reading a good-night story and tucking children into bed with a kiss.

Have Fun as a Family
Strong families know that having fun is important and make plans to have fun together. They plan family trips or parties. Strong families know that laughter is important and use humor to help reduce stress. Family members laugh with one another, not at one another.

Show Love and Affection
No matter what children say or do, they need to know that their parents love them. Strong families show caring in many ways. Family members say to each other, "I love you" or "I'm happy we're in this family together." They give hugs and show affection in other small ways. They may call each other nicknames and enjoy remembering family stories.

Here are some ideas for how to celebrate the month with family:

  • Take a walk together.
  • Watch a favorite movie.
  • Meet eyes when you speak.
  • Say "please" with your requests.
  • Say "thank you."
  • Discipline in private.
  • Let your "no" mean no.
  • Let your "yes" mean yes.
  • Praise events.
  • Go to a ballgame together.
  • Have family dinner at home at least twice a week.
  • Listen. Listen. Listen.
  • Make free time.
  • Laugh out loud.
  • Say, "I'm proud of you."
  • Smile.
  • Be home when they are home.
  • Hug often.
  • Make "I love you" the last thing you say every night.
  • Say, "Good morning!" cheerfully every morning.
  • Make a dinner date for just you and your child.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Make a campfire and sing songs.
  • Stop what you are doing and listen.
  • Take your child to work.
  • Lie on your backs and look for shooting stars at night.
  • Teach your kids how to save money.
  • Show enthusiasm.
  • Develop a kid's-eye view of the world.
  • Make family traditions.
  • Take a family vacation every year.
  • Go fishing.
  • Sing songs.
  • Show and tell your love for your spouse.
  • Read a best-selling children's book aloud.
  • Listen to music.
  • Share memories.
  • Tell childhood stories.
  • Attend religious services together.
  • Say "I love you."
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Phil Mickelson Skips US Open Practice for Daughter's Graduation

If you follow professional golf, you know the U.S. Open Championship is kind of a big deal. ESPN reports that Phil Mickelson skipped US Open practice to attend his daughter's eigth grade graduation.

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ESPN says:
Mickelson was not at Merion Golf Club on Tuesday preparing for the U.S. Open because he headed home to San Diego, where he will attend his daughter's eighth-grade graduation.

Mickelson arrived at Merion on Monday but was unable to get in much practice due to the severe weather conditions that twice caused United States Golf Association officials to close the course.

Mickelson was quoted in a statement released Tuesday he always planned to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. But with the bad weather at Merion, he left early so he could practice at home.

Mickelson said in a statement:

  • I was scheduled to return to San Diego after my 2:30pm press conference Tuesday. I came back Monday...my daughter Amanda is speaking at her 8th grade graduation ceremony and I always planned on being here for that, but since it was raining so much Monday and we didn't know if we'd even be able to play a sloppy course, I came home last night to practice in great weather on my range and greens. I'll be ready to go Thursday.

The ceremony is scheduled to take place in the late afternoon Wednesday in California, and Mickelson plans to return to Merion (in Pennsylvania) sometime overnight. He has a 7:11 a.m. starting time on Thursday off the 11th tee (4:11 a.m. California time)

As CBSSports makes clear: say the graduation ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (8 p.m. in Pennsylvania) -- Mickelson will probably eat a cookie and drink some juice at the after-party and be out the door by 6:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in Pennsylvania). It's a 4 1/2-hour (or so) flight.

Even with a private jet, like I'm sure Mickelson has. He will hit the tee box like any sleepy dad would! To that we say, go Philly Mick, you're doing things #DadsWay!

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photo credit: zzazazz

With T1D Care, #DadsWay is Indispensable

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

dadswayAnd the sad reality is that one of the main reasons for this breakdown is that too many fathers are walking away from difficult situations. My friend’s wife counsels women who are in high-risk pregnancies, and he swears that by the end of their wives’ terms, half the fathers have left. And often, even if they stay, they don’t make the selfless changes necessary to accommodate the special needs of the wife going through the difficult pregnancy.  

Again, this is heart breaking. At their wives’ and children’s most needful hour, their attitude is “this is not what I signed up for; I’m outta here.”  

That is why when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) last June, I knew that I needed to step up in a big way. Responsible fatherhood needed to take on a whole new meaning for me. My son deserved for me to be there for him. My wife deserved for me to be there for her.  

Thankfully, due to incredible medical breakthroughs, T1D has become a manageable disease. But it still takes constant vigilance. You can’t take a day off from managing it. Really, you can’t even take several hours off from managing it. Our son is 3-1/2, so he is not yet at the age where he can tell us when he doesn’t feel quite right. It is up to us to figure it out, which involves checking his blood sugar every few hours (even in the middle of the night). It means making constant adjustments to his insulin pump to ensure that we are keeping his blood sugar under control.  

And none of these actions or decisions is made without my wife and I working together. And what makes it work even better, what gives it that magical synergy, is that my wife and I both approach things differently. Right on par with the research about how moms and dads take different approaches to parenting, my wife and I take different approaches to diabetes management! For example, my wife tends to be much more cautious/worried when it comes to dealing with his high blood sugars, whereas I tend to be a little more laissez faire and patient; what this creates is a perfect balance where we are not overreacting, nor are we standing idly by.  

Aside from the “transactional” part of managing the disease, there is the relational part as well. My wife and I both relate to my son differently, and we can already see how our son reacts and interacts with us differently. He makes it clear that he is happiest when both my wife and I are with him, eating dinner together, watching a movie, whatever. He gets irreplaceable comfort and security from our presence. When he wants to be thrown (high) into the air, he comes to me. When he wants to cuddle he goes to mom (I cuddle him, and my wife throws him (low) in the air, too, but I am talking about “on average” here).  

Short of there being a cure, my son will always have T1D, which means that I will always have to work with my wife to ensure that he grows up as happy, healthy, and normal as possible. This is a team task, and my wife and I are our son’s perfect team.  

Being there for my wife and my son to help him overcome the challenge of T1D – that’s #DadsWay.  

You may be wondering why we are using the hashtag #DadsWay. From now until June 23, every time you Tweet using the hashtag #DadsWay, Tide and Downy will donate $1 to National Fatherhood Initiative! So, if you are on Twitter, sign in and tell us what #DadsWay means to you.   

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3 Super Simple Ways to Support Fathers this Father's Day

As you can imagine, June is quite a special month for NFI. As we serve fathers, we thought we should remind you of three ways you can support our aim of creating better dads and give you extraordinary ideas for gifts. Here are three ways you can support fathers this Father's Day: 

1. Join NFI's Dads Club™
DadsClub RotatorWith a one-time $20 membership fee (Now through Father's Day—regularly $35), you get:

  • awesome set of Dads Club™ swag - including a set of men's grooming products from Dove® Men+Care™ 
  • connect with other Dads Club™ members who care about fatherhood.

Plus, your membership fee supports National Fatherhood Initiative's mission to create a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad℠! Join now!

2. Donate in Honor of Dad for Father's Day
Give $25 or more between now and Father's Day and we will send you a customizable, framable certificate you can present to your dad! Donate now!

Fathers Day LDD Rotator

3. Tweet Using #DadsWay Hashtag
Here is the easiest $1 you will ever donate to National Fatherhood Initiative. If you are on Twitter, every time you use the hashtag #dadsway, Tide/Downy will donate $1 to NFI. Talk about the dad in your life or share something unique about your dad. Dads, you can tweet about being a dad. We will make it even easier for you. Here is an example tweet:

  • For every tweet using #DadsWay @Tide & @Downy will donate $1 to National Fatherhood Initiative @thefatherfactor. Have at it!

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Just Be a Dad

This is a guest post by Clay Brizendine. Clay is a CPT, a personal and corporate trainer, father of two daughters and author of Shoebox Letters – Daughters to Dads. Follow Clay on the web and Twitter. Interested in guest blogging for NFI? Send us an email.

Screen Shot 2013 06 05 at 8.06.24 PMA good friend of mine, Kash Shaikh, is starting a movement called #besomebody. What is it? In his words, ‘whatever you want it to be.’ He’s starting to get good momentum, and as I see and hear more about it, it got me to thinking about the ways in which I want to #besomebody. One of the biggest? In my role as dad to my 2 daughters. In Shoebox Letters – Daughters to Dads, I point out nine key themes that can direct you to being the best dad you can be. The question is – how will you use these to #besomebody? Use Father’s Day as a time to reflect on what it means to you to be Dad.  

Love Unconditionally
I am very much a believer that strong foundations are what make the impossible possible. Loving your daughter unconditionally turns dreams to realities. It unlocks potential. It makes trying new things without fear-of-failure something that your daughter does rather than just thinking about. Loving unconditionally sets the strongest foundation for a unique bond between dad and daughter.  

Be Patient
How can any of us grow if we’re not stretched beyond what we’re capable of today? Patience is truly a virtue, and as a parent, it’s tested. It’s downright hard sometimes to be patient with your daughter when your job, others in your family, and other priorities all comingle. Patience is further tested when it’s hard to see an end in sight. But the bigger picture tells us to have faith, to be patient, and to recognize the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as far away as we think.  

Be Mindful
Being your daughter’s dad is an art, not a science. With no manual, we test some things, see if they work, and then try again. Sometimes we work so hard over here… that we forget about what’s over there. Sometimes it’s by choice, and sometimes by accident. But in either case, as a dad, it’s our job to be mindful of our actions and the consequences that can come from them. 

Be Amazing
A dad is human. A dad is a person. You’re not just a dad. You have interests & hobbies, likes & dislikes. Some of those revolve around your daughter, and some of those were formed long before she came along. Letters in the book tell the stories of dads who played what is sometimes the hardest role to play as a dad – themselves. What came from that was… well, amazing.  

Be THE Example
Hundreds of books have argued over what the exact traits are of great leaders. Parents are the leaders of their family, and what has shown to be true through countless generations of these leaders is that setting the right example is critically important. Walking the talk, living your ideals, and recognizing that actions speak louder than words is a sure-fire way for you to have a profound influence on your daughter.  

Be There and Be Accountable
Themes that naturally arose from these letters – unconditional love, patience, being amazing, and setting the right examples – are all challenging enough for a dad. They’re even harder to do when dad isn’t around.  

Be Dependable
de·pend·a·ble. Adjective: Trustworthy and reliable. Synonyms: reliable – trustworthy – trusty – sure – certain – safe. Being dependable is more than just showing up… it’s being there when it counts to your daughter, creating a sense of security. When she can’t count on anything else, as will happen on occasion, she needs to know she can count on you.  

Be Their Hero
Being a hero to your daughter takes everything you have as a dad. But how would you know if you lived up to that billing? You’re on the right path if your daughter describes you like some of the ones from the book describe their dads.  

Love Forever
Love Unconditionally. Be Patient. Be Mindful. Be Amazing. Be THE Example. Be There and Be Accountable. Be Dependable. Be Their Hero. Why? So that when you’re gone, you can Love Forever.

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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 NFI’s blog, The Father Factor, 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.

andyfickmanvdwithaward resized 600

This award ceremony also marks the first event hosted by the newly established partnership between Los Angeles-based Life of Dad and Washington, DC-based National Fatherhood Initiative. The organizations will help promote entertainment media productions to their large audiences of fathers, families, and family-serving organizations through events in Los Angeles and Washington, DC; social media promotions; and audio and video production.

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The Precipitous Drop in Teen Birth Rates & What it Means for Dads

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

Last week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released astounding data on the precipitous decline in the teen birth rate. The birth rate for teens 15-19 years of age fell 25 percent from 2007-2011 to an all-time low. The most significant drop, 34 percent, occurred among Hispanic teens.  

medium 5549214174Dr. Howard Koh, the Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notes in the Huffington Post that this is an acceleration of the decline we’ve witnessed for more than two decades. Dr. Koh points to a number of key factors that have led to this decline that include stronger pregnancy-prevention efforts (e.g. most notably those spearheaded by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy), teens choosing to delay sex (i.e. abstinence), and contraceptive use among sexually-active teens. The good news from NFI’s perspective is that this decline helps prevent father absence in the lives of children and the range of poor outcomes that these children experience, on average.  

As I reflected on these data and read Dr. Koh’s article, I couldn’t help but wonder why, despite this long-term trend, we see rates of unwed childbearing at an all-time high. The reason is that, more than ever, women in their twenties are having children out-of-wedlock. As I pointed out in an earlier post, nearly half of all births to twentysomethings (48 percent) occur outside of marriage. Coupled with the increase in age among women marrying for the first time exceeding the age at which they give birth to their first child, fathers should be very concerned about the prospects of our grandchildren growing up without involved, responsible, committed fathers in their lives.  

So what are fathers to make of all this good and not-so-good news? One thing for certain is that fathers can breathe a little easier knowing that their teens are less likely to become pregnant or get someone pregnant than when they (fathers) were teenagers. (Can you hear a big “Whew!” coming from this father of two teenage daughters?) But none of us should be under any illusion that there aren’t the same temptations for teens today to have sex than when we were in their shoes. In other words, don’t let any grass grow under your feet as you consider when to send your daughters or sons the message to not have sex until, ideally, they are married.  

What these data reinforce for every father is that the job of a father never ceases. When it comes to ensuring that our grandchildren grow up in homes with involved, responsible, committed fathers—regardless of whether we have daughters or sons—our work extends beyond adolescence and into our children’s twenties. We can’t breathe easy when we realize that so many children in our country are still at risk of growing up without involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives because of trends to which many Americans are oblivious. 

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photo credit: imagineerz

Google Doodle Literally Draws Attention to Fatherhood

Have you Googled anything today?! If you visit Google today, you'll notice a special drawing from a high school teen. The doodle is literally drawing attention to fatherhood!
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Sabrina Brady of Sparta, Wisc. was selected to be featured on Google for her doodle, “Coming Home.” 

Students in all 50 states doodled for the Google contest. This year’s theme was, “My Best Day Ever...” Sabrina’s doodle was picked because as Google says, "it tells the story of her reunion with her father as he returned from an 18 month deployment in Iraq. Her creative use of the Google letters to illustrate this heartfelt moment clearly resonated with voters across the country and all of us at Google."

Sabrina was awarded a $30,000 college scholarship and Google will also give her school a $50,000 technology grant. Congratulations, Sabrina...welcome home, dad...and nice work, Google! 

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Help Families in Oklahoma: Give to the Red Cross Now

"...As a father it's humbling...it's heartbreaking...to know that we still may have kids over there that's possibly alive..." —Volunteer with search & rescue post-tornado last night

Our thoughts and prayers are and will continue to be with the families involved in this storm. Please take time to help to the people of Oklahoma. Below are a couple of videos from CNN.com that tell the story on the ground in Oklahoma. Please consider giving to the Red Cross—they are on the ground now helping Oklahoma with food, shelter and support [details below.] 

Can see the video? Visit CNN.com for more details.

This video from CNN.com shows moments after the storm in Moore, Oklahoma...

The American Red Cross issued this statement following the tornado in Oklahoma yesterday afternoon, excerpts below: 

People in Oklahoma near the tornado area are encouraged to connect with one another and let loved ones know that they are safe. This can be done through the I’m Safe feature of the free Red Cross tornado app. In addition, if you have access to a computer, go to redcross.org/safeandwell to list yourself as safe. If not, you can text loved ones or call a family member and ask them to register you on the site.

This has been a major disaster, and the Red Cross will be there for the people in this state and this community. People who wish to make a donation can support American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma and Texas as well as disasters big and small throughout the United States by visiting redcross.org, dialing 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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

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

after earth danger is real fear is a choice will smith jaden smith

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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NFI Honors Military Dads! Vote Before Midnight May 17th!

NFI's Vince DiCaro talks about how you can pick the winner of the 2013 Military Fatherhood Award. Vote for your favorite finalist before Friday, May 17!

 Can't view the video? Visit Fox News Live for full video

Vince DiCaro was interviewed yesterday on Fox News Live and discussed our 2013 Military Fatherhood Award Finalists. As Vince points out, we have four amazing finalists: 

mondragonChief Petty Officer Patrick Mondragon, U.S. Navy.

  • Currently serving at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  • Father of two kids, daughter age 9 and son age 8

His wife became very ill recently. He became a sole parent for their children. He took care of his wife and children all while serving our country. Get parenting tips from CPO Mondragon here.
 

romanStaff Sergeant Jorge Roman, U.S. Army.

  • Currently serving at Fort Stewart, Georgia
  • Father of two daughters, ages 9 and 8, and expecting another

He is a first-generation immigrant. His parents worked hard to see their son build a life here and he is a great example of service. Get parenting tips from SSgt Roman here



 

linvilleStaff Sergeant Charlie Linville, U.S. Marine Corps.

  • Currently serving at Balboa Naval Medical Center Wounded Warrior Battalion in San Diego, CA
  • Father of two daughters, ages 5 and 2

He's a wounded warrier. Within 36 hours of having his leg amputated, we was cheering his daughter on at her karate class. Get parenting tips from SSgt Linville here.

billupsMajor Kevin Billups, U.S. Air Force.

  • Currently serving at Tyndale AFB, FL
  • Father of three children

He recorded himself reading to his children so that when he was deployed his children would know how much he loved them. Get parenting tips from Major Billups here


Pick your favorite finalist and vote before tomorrow at midnight!

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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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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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King's Faith in Theaters 4/26: Watch the Trailer!

King's Faith is about second chances. It's about the potential each of us has to change a life. Brendan is a teen who's had a difficult past. He's a kid struggling with life. He's a guy searching for whether he is better than his failures. Enter Mike; who works in the school where Brendan enrolls. Mike and his wife become the foster family for Brendan. They take him in and, through them, he discovers the courage to face his past and try to do what is right.

Watch the Official Trailer [www.kingsfaith.com]

King’s Faith is the story of a troubled, fatherless young man named Brendan, who is trying to make his life better—but his past keeps trying to get in the way. With the help of strong foster parents, especially his new foster father, Brendan works through his issues. 

The foster father, Mike (played by James McDaniel), is a great example of how a strong father can build confidence and resilience in his children. He shows the unique and irreplaceable traits a father can bring to the parenting equation. Mike hasn't had it easy either. We see in this film that everyone has a story and most people have struggles and hardships in life. This film does well to depict the old saying, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." King's Faith opens in theaters this Friday, April 26.  

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