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The Father Factor

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(Video) Dying Father and His Last, First Dance with Daughter

"Each and every day, we have a choice. We have a choice to either love that person that's in front of us or not. It's the relationships that you build over the years that is the most important thing in life. It's the only real thing in life. Everything else is just an illusion." —Dr. James Wolf, father of two daughters

Reporting on The Today Show,

My Biggest Fear As My Daughter Starts Kindergarten

I didn’t cry at school this morning. Nope, I did great. But today is still not a normal Tuesday for me. As my wife and I dropped our firstborn at her class and turned away, there were no visible tears from me. I saved my tears for the drive to my office.

Introducing NFI’s newest staff member: Ryan Sanders

Nothing prepares you for fatherhood. When I say nothing, I mean nothing.

Guest Post: How I Taught My Daughter To Fight

This is a guest blog post by best-selling author Brad Meltzer on his just-released book, Heroes for My Daughter.

I was sleeping. Soundly. And then my pregnant wife shook me awake.

“I think the baby’s coming,” she told me.
It was four in the morning. 
“Go back to bed,” I pleaded. “It’s too early.” 
God bless my wife, she actually tried to go back to bed.
 But my little unborn daughter had her own ideas. 
Believe me when I say, that wouldn’t be the last time.

At the hospital, the instant I saw my daughter for the first time, my heart doubled in size. My own mother told me at the time, “Now you’ll understand how I love you.”

After giving us a few moments with her, the nurses did their usual weighing and measuring, and then said they wanted to whisk her off for her first bath.
 “I’m coming with you,” I told them, determined to protect her.
 They smiled that smile they save for new parents and reassured me, “She’ll be fine. We have her.”

But as I looked down at my beautiful, teeny, amazing daughter…c’mon… No way was I ever letting her out of my sight. Thankfully, the nurses put up with me, and let me pretend I was some old parental veteran as I helped give my daughter her first bath. Later, as I sat there, rocking in the rocking chair they gave me and holding her close, I still remember all the dreams I was dreaming for her.

I didn’t want just one thing for my daughter. I wanted everything. If she needed strength, I wanted her to be strong. If she saw someone hurting, I wanted her to find the compassion to help. If there was a problem, big or small, that no one could solve, I wanted her to have every available skill - ingenuity, empathy, creativity, perseverance - so she could attack that problem in a way that no one else on this entire planet had ever fathomed. And that would be her greatest gift: That no one - and I mean no one - would ever be exactly like my Lila.

I still believe that. I do. I’m a mushy dad. And it was in those first moments of blind idealism and unbridled naïveté that I resolved to write a book for her.

Yes, I’d been down this road before. I started a similar book on the night my son was born. The goal was to write this book over the course of my children’s lives - that I’d fill it with all the advice they needed to be good people. I began that night:
1. Love God.

2. Help the kids who need it.

My plan was to add more ideas as she grew older, and eventually, on the day when I presented this book to her, she’d realize I was indeed the greatest father of all time (I had a parade planned for myself as well).

Thankfully, during your first few years, I realized my cliché, self-important plan was just that. It hit me after thinking about my own life and after my friend Simon Sinek told me this amazing story about the Wright Brothers: Every time Orville and Wilbur Wright went out to fly their plane, they would bring extra materials for multiple crashes. That way, when they crashed, they could rebuild the plane and try again. Think of that for a moment: every time they went out - every time - they knew they were going to fail. But that’s what they did: Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. And that’s why they finally took off.

I love that story. I wanted my daughter to hear that story. I wanted my sons to hear that story. I wanted everyone in this world to know that if you dream big…and work hard…and have a good side-order of stubbornness…you can do anything in this world.

Soon after, my new plan was born. I wouldn’t give my kids a book of rules. I’d give them a book of heroes. And in that, I’d give them absolute proof that anything is possible.

Following birth order, I first wrote Heroes for My Son, which was published two years ago. At the time, I was simultaneously writing the book for my daughter, and not just because my daughter kept coming up to my office and demanding, “Where’s my book?” (which she did). Over the past six years, as I began my collection of heroes, I always knew I’d have to split them between a book for my sons and a book for my daughter.

For that reason, I worked hard to divide the heroes equally. My son got more male heroes; my daughter got more female (in the exact same ratio, down to the exact percentage, so there’d be no arguing about which “side” was better).

Think I’m nuts? Wait till you have more than one kid. Like Switzerland, my parental goal was to keep all parties neutral, so all my children would feel equal love, equal respect, equal life lessons. Am I insane? I have three kids. Of course I’m insane. But (to steal my mother’s phrase), for those three little blessings, I’d saw off my own arm. And so, feeling like a 21st-century parent (so progressive I couldn’t even see, much less acknowledge, gender differences), I began to write these two equal books filled with equally amazing heroes.

But here’s the thing. Along the way, something happened.

When I handed in the manuscript for my daughter’s book, the editor came back with a surprising reply. She noticed that I kept overusing one word throughout the manuscript.

What word?

Fighter.

By her count, fourteen of the fifty profiles had the word “fight” or “fighter” in it.

As she pointed out, “Some of them, like Abigail Adams, Winston Churchill, Hannah Senesh, Thurgood Marshall, were literally fighters, so of course the term should stay there.” But I also used it with Audrey Hepburn, Helen Keller, Teddy Roosevelt, Nancy Brinker…even with Lisa Simpson and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama! Even in the pacifist, I sought a fighter. And yes, that probably highlights my lack of descriptive ability. But it also raises a vital question.

Why?

After years of trying to keep this book for my daughter perfectly equal to the book for my sons - after years of trying to teach them the exact same lessons - why did I focus so intently on making sure that my daughter knew how to fight? Why did I keep using that word? Why, subconsciously or not, was that the lesson I kept coming back to?

It’s not a complex answer. Part of it’s because I’m still trying to protect her (even if I don’t like to admit it). Indeed, when my daughter was three, and first learning to swim, she used to jump in the pool, sink down to the bottom, and then pop up and shout, with a huge grin on her face, “I’m okay!” We used to laugh at it, especially as it became her personal catchphrase every time she went underwater: I’m okay! I’m okay! I’m okay!

But looking back, why did Lila keep yelling, I’m okay? Because someone (read: me) kept asking, “Are you okay?”

Yet the other part of the answer is because my dreams for my daughter today are different than the ones on the day she was born. Sure, I still want everything for her. I always will. But - and I’m just being honest here - I do want my daughter to learn how to fight.

It’s the dream that links every single hero I picked out. In this book for my daughter, every hero is a fighter. And as I tell my daughter, no matter what stage of life you’re in, when you want something - no matter how impossible it seems - you need to fight for it. When you believe in something, fight for it. And when you see injustice, fight harder than you’ve ever fought before.

To see the results, I picked out the story of Marie Curie, who never stopped pushing science forward, even when she was dying from the radiation she was studying…or the Three Stooges (yes, laugh if you want), who were the first ones to make fun of Adolf Hitler onscreen, nearly two years before Pearl Harbor…or the story of Billie Jean King, who challenged (and beat!) the pig-headed man who told her that women were weaker than men.

Women are not weaker. It was perhaps the most important lesson in there. I needed my daughter to hear that: Women are not weaker. They are just as strong, just as resolute, just as creative, and are filled with just as much potential as any man. Yes, as her father, my instinct is to protect her (like that first day with the nurses). Other people will want to protect her too. But she needs to know that she is not a damsel in distress, waiting for some prince to rescue her. Forget the prince. With her brain and her resourcefulness, she can rescue herself. And when she has her doubts - as we all inevitably do - she’d have this book, full of people who were wracked with just as much fear, but who also found the internal strength to overcome it.

From Amelia Earhart, to Teddy Roosevelt, to every person I picked, she’d have the stories of women and men who were no different from any of us. We may lionize them and put them on pedestals. But never forget this: No one is born a hero. Every person I picked for my daughter had moments where they were scared and terrified. Like you. Like me. So how did they achieve what they achieved? Because whatever their dreams were, big or small - for their country, for their family, or even for themselves - they never stopped fighting for what they loved.

We all are who we are, until that moment when we strive for something greater.

Is that schmaltzy and naïve? I hope so. Because I wanted my daughter to learn those things too.

As for the most important hero in the book, yes, I included my wife. And my grandmother. But for me, the most vital hero is my mother, Teri Meltzer, who died from breast cancer three years ago. On the day my publisher was shutting down, and no one was there to take over my contract, I thought I was watching my career deteriorate. So I called my Mom and told her how scared I was. She told me, “I'd love you if you were a garbage man.” It wasn't anything she practiced. Those were just her honest feelings in that moment. And to this day, every day I sit down to write, I say those words to myself, soaking in the purity of my Mom's love. I’d love you if you were a garbage man. My hero.

Yet for you, dear reader, the most important page in my daughter’s book is the last one, because it's blank. It says “Your Hero’s Photo Here” and “Your Hero’s Story Here.” And I promise you, you take a photo of your Mom, or Grandparent, or teacher, or a military member of your family, and you put their picture in there, and write one sentence of what they mean to you; that will be the most beautiful page in Heroes For My Daughter. And the best present we can give all our children: the reminder that it is indeed ordinary people who change the world. That’s way stronger than any upper-cut.

Today, my gift is complete. I’ve finished my daughter’s book. The book is my dream for her. And when my daughter has doubts, there is strength in the book. When she’s ready to give up, there’s motivation inside. And when she has questions, there are answers inside. But I hope, as every hero proves, the best answers will always come from what’s within herself.

Brad Meltzer is the #1 bestselling author of The Inner Circle and the host of “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” on the History Channel. Heroes For My Daughter will be published April 10th. This article originally appeared in Spirit Magazine by Southwest Airlines.

No Child Beauty Pageants For My Daughter, Please

Reality television is literally like a train wreck. On some shows, one can witness the worst in human behavior, yet people still watch faithfully. There have even been “viewing parties” held during some of the more popular programs, a fact that still baffles me to this day.

One such program I had the displeasure of watching was controversial TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which profiles child beauty pageant contestants and their families. Already in its fifth season since premiering in 2009, the show is popular for all the wrong reasons.

The mothers of the young pageant contestants all push their girls, some young as two, to emotional and physical limits. They parade the little girls around in makeup, big hairdos, and even bathing suits. In the few times I’ve watched the show, I’ve never seen a father be involved in the shenanigans. As a father of a daughter, it troubles me to see little girls be put through the rigors of a pageant. I wondered often if the fathers are in the lives of the girls and how they felt about seeing their child in that light.

Perhaps I have a narrow male perspective but there is something limiting in this preemie beauty pageant nonsense that suggests the only goals these mothers have for their little girls is a life of preening and primping. I don’t see how a beauty pageant, especially at such young ages, promotes anything other than vanity. I would be appalled to watch the mother of my child force her to do something that adds such little value to her life.

I’m not alone in this thinking, as recent news suggests that the trend of child pageants teeters close to indecency. In France, lawmakers have banned child beauty pageants; this after a 10-year old girl was featured on the cover of Vogue Paris in attire not fit for a child. I don’t know if such a ban could happen here but I’m taking a stand for fathers who would rather see other ideals promoted in their little girls. Beauty and fashion are fine things to aspire towards, but what message does this ultimately send?

Just this week, the father of JonBenet Ramsey, the murdered beauty pageant contestant, came forward this week and called the Toddlers & Tiaras show “bizzare” although he allowed his child to participate. Reading his story, John Ramsey showed serious regret in letting his daughter enter the contests. I am in no way suggesting that JonBenet’s participation in these events led to her passing. Instead, I am glad to see one father finally speak up against the practice.

I happen to think my daughter is beautiful and worthy of being a supermodel should she choose that life as she gets older. For now, she has a lot of growing up to do and I’m in no rush to speed her down that path. Fathers, it’s ok to speak up for your little girls in cases like this. We have to protect our princesses any way we can.

Devoted And Heroic Dads Should Inspire Us All

Once a man takes on the important task of becoming a father, it suddenly stops being just about his life from that moment. You are now responsible for an entire person, even as they grow from infancy into adulthood. When a father is involved, responsible and committed, the bond established with your child is unbreakable. Sometimes in times of danger or emergency, a father’s automatic instinct is to protect. Most fathers I know who have good relationships with their children all share this innate trait.

The story of Erik Chappell, the Michigan attorney who leapt into action to save his two boys after a car bomb attack, inspired me to recall other tales of fathers who became knights in shining armor for their children.

In 2010, David Anderson and his daughter Bridget, just two at the time, and their scare in New York was an example of a father thinking of nothing more than saving his child. His little girl fell into a cold East River after which a brave Frenchman and Anderson dove into the water to rescue the toddler.

Joe Gutierrez proved his heroic mettle after rescuing three babies from a burning fire in Texas last month. Treating his actions like another day in the office, Gutierrez responded coolly, “I’m a regular guy. I’m not a hero, I’m a father. That’s what fathers do.”

Although I didn’t leap into freezing waters or burning buildings, I received a call today from my daughter while she was at school. Calling from the nurse’s office, I could tell something was amiss with her. I immediately stood up, and began walking towards the door to leave, not even regarding that I had a lot more work to do for the day. Whenever I hear my child in despair, she’s no longer the tiny little person of 11 years ago. I harken back to holding her just out the womb. I don’t see a tweener, I just see my baby.

Even now when she coughs too loud or says ouch, I get right up to see what the situation is. I’ve been told by dads of older girls that eventually, she’ll tire of my doting ways and will want some independence. I know I can’t always don a cape and take care of her problems, but I can’t imagine being any other way for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that my daughter will always know that while I can’t fix everything, I’ll do anything I can in my power to give her the best and safest life.

Like Mr. Gutierrez said, that's what fathers do.

Tommy Jordan And The Path Of Parental Redemption

It was just a month ago when a entire nation was shocked to witness a gun-toting, cowboy hat-wearing Tommy Jordan unload nine shots from a handgun into his daughter’s laptop. The aftermath of the event led to visits from Child Protect Services and the Department of Social Services, online commentators calling Jordan everything but a child of God, and a surprisingly high number of supporters.

Clearly remorseful but still staunch in his reasons for his actions, Mr. Jordan and his family have rallied around each other despite many thinking their situation was much more explosive than it was. I dare say the Jordan family may be a tighter unit than any of us could have ever expected.

Jordan, his daughter Hannah Marie and his wife, Amy, all appeared on NBC morning program TODAY show with host Matt Lauer. When Lauer asked Hannah her feelings about her dad’s actions, she clearly has processed the moment far quicker than America has. “We went our separate ways for a while, but we were able to laugh about it afterwards,” she said to Lauer. Hannah did say her father overreacted but that she ultimately accepted his actions.

Jordan’s wife, a doctor, also supports her husband’s actions and apparently gave Tommy the green light to destroy their daughter’s laptop. “People may look at the video that don't know him or us and think we're just completely uneducated country people. That’s not the case. He’s very intelligent, very thoughtful. He rarely does anything without thinking it through or even consulting me on a lot of occasions. This wasn't any different,” she shared.

On air, Tommy Jordan admitted to his mistakes which he and his wife said was inspired by his daughter’s initial mistake. Both mom and dad’s overall point: watch what you say online because it can come back to haunt you. “Don't post anything on the web you don't want the entire world to see. That was why we were upset with her in the first place and all of this has driven the point home,” said Mrs. Jordan.

Another moment that folks should notice was that of Mr. Jordan revealing he did indeed save Hannah’s hard drive from the same fate her laptop suffered. He looked his daughter in the eye and told her point blank that when she’s allowed to have a computer again, she can access her old files.

Like any other family, the Jordans aren’t perfect by any means. Tommy Jordan realizes that his shoot-em-up stunt has made for weighty consequences for he and his family. But together, it seems like they’re working it out just fine. Perhaps it’s time to let this story rest and allow a family to heal and find their path to redemption all on their own.

Was Tommy Jordan Out Of Line For Shooting His Daughter’s Laptop?

If you haven’t seen the video of North Carolina dad Tommy Jordan and his gun-toting tirade, the reaction to his daughter’s disrespectful words may seem a bit over the top. However, the IT company owner and proud father has become a YouTube sensation, amassing a whopping 26 million views in just over a week. If you’re in need of a back-story, Mr. Jordan caught wind of his daughter making slanderous remarks about her parents on Facebook.

After reading the unflattering comments left by his daughter, Hannah, on her Facebook wall, Jordan went into his own eight-minute video rant about the things he and his wife have provided for their child, and ended off the video in explosive fashion. Jordan unloads eight shots from a .45 pistol into the laptop, which reportedly gained the man a visit from the authorities, including Child Protective Services. Unapologetic about his reaction and not facing charges, Jordan says the family is closer as a result of what happened although he’s faced a bunch of tough criticism.

On the other side of the negative remarks however, Jordan has amassed a few fans of his version of tough love. While I can appreciate the sentiment behind Jordan’s actions, the use of the gun is where I hop off the train. I can’t endorse using violence to hammer home a point. In a series of news polls done on almost every major media outlet, voters are mostly in approval of Jordan’s actions. Even Dr. Phil himself said he was entertained more than appalled by the video clip.

Disciplining your child is a necessary thing for fathers to administer, although I’d argue that it’s an often difficult thing to do correctly. As children grow older, they have the potential to challenge their parents’ patience in a variety of ways. I don’t imagine I’d ever resort to shooting my daughter’s electronic equipment in order to get her to follow my lead. I hope that my words, steady presence and loving devotion is enough to make sure my child honors not only her parents, but also herself.

How about you, Father Factor readers? What do you think about what Tommy Jordan did? Tell us in the comments below or tweet to us at @FatherFactor. You can also comment on our Facebook page by following this link.

A Hope For Peace Between Whitney Houston And Her Father

Over the weekend, the music world was shaken by the death of celebrated pop and R&B diva Whitney Houston on the eve of the Grammys. I still can’t believe she’s gone, especially after reading she was on her way to performing and recording again. A lot of speculation about Whitney’s death has swirled about, and I’ve largely chosen to ignore what I’ve been hearing simply because I prefer to remember her as being on a triumphant comeback trail.

Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston, a renowned singer in her own right, and Whitney’s famous cousin Dionne Warwick were typically the only family members fans heard about. Little was ever said about Whitney’s late father, John. However, I searched the Web and found that Whitney and John had a much closer relationship than what has been reported in the past. In this undated video clip, Whitney is shown singing to her father on her birthday during a concert sometime in the 1990s. It’s clear in the clip that she loved her father, although alleged legal troubles between the two became tabloid fodder.

I won’t bore you with the details over owed money and estates, but rather focus on the fact that at one point, Whitney’s father acted as her mentor and business manager. John even created a company, John Houston Enterprises, to help his daughter maintain her business affairs. The same firm later negotiated a record $100 million dollar, six-album deal in 2001 for Whitney, one of the largest contracts on record.

Whitney was never candid about she and her father’s relationship, but did defend her dad by saying that a $100 million dollar lawsuit in 2002 brought by John Houston Enterprises had nothing to do with him, but rather, a greedy business associate of her father. John, who suffered from diabetes and heart troubles, passed away a year later during the proceedings, and the business partner didn’t win one cent.

I came across a 2002 MTV interview featuring Whitney Houston’s spokesperson Nancy Seltzer that touched on the lawsuit. “When I spoke to John a week and a half ago, he said, 'It's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of. I couldn't do anything like that, and I didn't,'' Seltzer said. ''It's sad. It's two people who love each other who seem to be dragged into this public situation, which is neither of their own doing.”

It doesn’t comfort me knowing that all her life Whitney Houston has had to live under the glare of the public eye. She never seemed to adjust to fame and money; she was just a girl from New Jersey with a dream, undeniable beauty and a voice from heaven. What does comfort me, is that a genuine love between a father and his daughter existed, no matter the forces that tried to tear them apart.

Reports have come out that Whitney will be laid to rest this weekend in New Jersey, right next to her father as she requested a time ago. Perhaps now, her troubled soul can rest comfortably next to the man who gave her life and love, just as it should be.

Cute Baby Videos And Cruel Comments Don’t Go Well Together

The Internet, especially the fast moving realm of social media, has given thousands of people a voice they once never had. The Web grants us access into a person’s life by way of keeping tabs on the various social media tools, to homepages, and the ever-present pool of words known as blogs. The voiceless can now be heard or seen without fear of censorship or retribution. In the case of folks leaving comments on blogs and YouTube sites, this could be seen as both a gift and a curse.

Daddy blogs, such as the clever Fatherhood Is, clearly knows how to poke fun at the learning curve of a new dad with comedic flair. The man behind the blog, Adam Brown, is a new dad of twins Greyson and Charlotte. His blog is possibly my favorite of the many daddy blogs around.

One particular funny video Brown placed on his site features his baby girl Charlotte. In the video, Brown makes a razzing noise that frightens little Charlotte, thus causing her eyes to cutely and comically widen. In just a scant two weeks since the video’s release, it has garnered over a million and a half views on YouTube (the clip is definitely a family favorite in my home).

While nothing more than a harmless game of dad being silly with his baby (which some dads do), it appears that the Internet-famous and now-viral clip is subject to mean critics who seem to relish in levying nasty and offensive comments. Using the cover of the keyboard, these individuals have heaped on opinions about Brown’s parenting style and even resorted to calling his baby unattractive.

Brown doesn’t seem bothered by the comments, but was self-aware enough to put up a following post that highlighted some of the mean remarks people made. Sidestepping the negativity, Brown even pondered on his post whether or not Charlotte’s twin brother would be jealous of his sister’s growing fame. Humor is a great shield for one to wield in this world we live in. Learning how to laugh when most would resort to defensive anger diffuses negativity much easier than meeting it head on.

I love a cute baby video just as much as anyone else. I really enjoyed this video of the babies tasting lemons for the first time. However, it pains me to witness people using words to hurt a dad who simply wanted to share the world a precious and cute moment between he and his newborn. Cute baby videos and cruel comments don’t go together and if you can’t say something nice, to borrow from the old adage, try not saying anything at all.

Fatherhood No ‘Twilight Zone’ For Rod Serling

One of the duties of my position as Web Editor at NFI is to scour the Internet looking for interesting stories and news bits to place on our homepage and blog. As part of the Communications team, I’m often swimming in words and ideas – a chief joy of being a writer in my opinion. In my discovery, I found yet another reason to connect with the work I do here.

I came across an article from Salon.com featuring an excerpt of an upcoming memoir from writer Anne Serling, daughter of famed The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. Her book, Another Dimension: Growing Up With The Man Behind The Twilight Zone, serves not only as a memoir, but also as a way for Ms. Serling to resolve the grief behind losing her father at the age of 50 in 1975; Ms. Serling was just around 20 at the time.

In the excerpt, Ms. Serling takes care to detail her pain regarding her father’s death after open-heart surgery and how his famous show helped connect her to the man she loved, a television program she largely avoided because of his passing.

“Later that summer, a little more resilient, I began to watch my father’s “Twilight Zones,” doing this more to see him than the actual show. I randomly selected one called “In Praise of Pip.” The episode was filmed at the Pacific Ocean Park, the same amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier that my dad took my sister and me to.

What was so striking, so personal and so moving about this particular story was some of the dialogue. In this episode, Jack Klugman says to his son, “Who’s your best buddy, Pip?”
“You are, Pop.”

Just like the routine my dad and I did.”

I grew up watching The Twilight Zone, always amazed at how this show managed to expand my imagination while injecting some relatable themes to boot. I have a few favorite episodes, some I still wish I could watch on my old VHS player: “A Nightmare At 20,000 Feet,” “A Short Drink From A Certain Fountain,” and the classic “To Serve Man” episode. I just read that cable station SyFy will be continuing its New Year's Eve tradition of running a Twilight Zone marathon, so there’s no guesswork on where I’ll be parked all weekend.

Ms. Serling’s words about her dad touched me deeply and my research on her father revealed that he was not a simple man. But what stood out, Mr. Serling’s own daughter wasn't impressed with her dad’s fame and accomplishments (he was a decorated serviceman and a part-time parachute tester). What she loved about her father was that he was much more to her than a masterful weaver of tales. Ms. Serling referred to her father as a playmate and confidant – something all fathers should aspire to be, even when they’re off creating worlds of wonder elsewhere.

This will be my final blog post of 2011, so to all Father Factor readers, I wish you all a happy 2012, and stay tuned as we have a lot of great stories and blogs in store for the coming year.

Fathers and Testosterone: Lowered Levels Not So Bad After All

An interesting video report appeared on ABC News’ site the other day regarding men who become new dads, stating that the responsibilities that go along with the job caused lowered testosterone levels in men. Earlier this year, NFI’s Vincent DiCaro wrote a blog post in response to a New York Times piece regarding the very research that led to this discovery. Vince’s blog highlighted key points that affirmed why this hormonal development may in fact aid fathers in their parental duties.

ABC’s report follows the same angle in showing that dads who dote on their children have lowered testosterone levels but state that science supports this being good for the family unit. In generations past, men were often cast as pillaging nomads intent on exacting their aggressive will upon women and challenging other men in silly egotistical contests. Rare was it that fathers were shown to be in the house with their children, cooing to them or caring for their progeny.

Emmy-winning London-based ABC News correspondent Nick Watt led the latest report, injecting himself into the story as a father of two small boys himself. Watt playfully jabbed at himself for having lowered hormone levels, with various shots of the reporter playing lovingly with his boy. Harvard professor Peter Ellison, also quoted in the Times piece, reacted to Watt’s assertion that his “modern day” dad duties were making him less of a man. Ellison refuted the thought, simply saying that it’s an incorrect way to look at this startling phenomenon.

The action then cuts to Watt profiling a local rugby team, one of the most brutal sports on the planet. Highlighting a star player and coach who were both dads, Watt reported that their testosterone levels, while lowered after fatherhood, spiked back to normal while engaged in their contests. Watt also mentioned aptly that human parenting is easier when mom and dad are both involved. Watt was also candid in sharing that his own father was not as caring as he is with his sons, noting that dads in the 70s modeled themselves into alpha-male caricatures instead of involved parents.

Watt closed out his report mentioning his wife just had a second baby and that with two small children, he joked that his testosterone levels were in the “basement”. Watt ended the segment with two really awesome quotes I’d like to share with the Factor Father readers.

“This is, in fact, more manly than leaving wife and kids at home to go skydiving and skirt chasing,” said Watt while being shown spinning his eldest son around. Watt ended the clip by saying, “I’m at home in the nest, as nature says I should be.”

Amen to that, Mr. Watt.

Face-to-Face or Cargo Space? Subaru's Father-Friendly Ad

The best thing about Subaru's "Baby Driver" ad is that you don't even know what model Subaru is being advertised.

How many car commercials have you seen in which, at the end of the commercial, you don't actually know the name of the car? Your answer, if you have seen "Baby Driver," is probably "one."

So, why did Subaru do this? Why did they "break the rules of advertising"?

We were lucky enough to get the answer straight from the folks at Subaru last week when we presented them with a Fatherhood Award for their great work on "Baby Driver."

What they told us is that they wanted to focus on the relationship between the father and daughter in the ad (who happen to be a real life father and daughter!), and not on the specifics of the car. They were more interested in face-to-face than cargo space.

And that is why we gave Subaru a Fatherhood Award. Too often, father-child relationships are reduced to punchlines on TV. Subaru decided to show real life fatherhood - dads who care about the safety of their children and "live life deeply" with them.

We are hopeful that more and more companies will follow Subaru's lead. They have good economics reasons to - new research is showing that dads are becoming more and more involved in family purchasing decisions. When dads are portrayed well, everyone wins - dads, moms, kids, and the company's bottom line.

Bravo to Subaru for such a great ad that sends such a great message... After all, "Love" is what makes a Subaru a Subaru.

Dads Playbook Podcast with NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell. Week 3: Fathering Daughters

Welcome to the third installment of our 10-week podcast series, Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell.

This week, NFI president Roland C. Warren sits down with Mark to talk about raising daughters.

Since boys and girls are different, being a father to them presents different challenges and opportunities. Mark, a father of three boys and one girl, has some great advice for being a great dad to your daughter (next week, we’ll hear what he has to say about raising sons).

Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to raising daughters.

Guest Post: Kids need an Open Door Policy with Dad

This is a guest post from Dr. Clarence Shuler. Dr Shuler is an author, marriage counselor, speaker and life & relationship coach. He is President/CEO of BLR: Building Lasting Relationships, a non-profit helping individuals and organizations develop mutually-beneficial relationships. Dr. Shuler and his wife Brenda have three college-aged daughters.

More than a few fathers and mothers gave me a warning when my three girls were young. Their warning was that as soon as my girls became teenagers that they wouldn’t want to spend time with me. Their warning troubled me.

Unintentionally, I almost made their prediction come true. It hit me in two ways. First, while on our family vacation to Disney World, I realized that my girls were getting what was left over in my time. My girls deserved and needed my best, so I changed my priority to focus on my girls after their mother and then my job.

Secondly, as a self-employed struggling new writer, I kept the door of my home office closed. My little girls love me, so they wouldn’t even knock on the door because they didn’t want to disturb me. Maybe it was the grace of God that had me move my office to the basement and keep my office door open.

Like clockwork, with an open door, all my girls from elementary school through high school as soon as they came home would come down to my office to say, “Hello” and touch base with me. It was a little humbling initially because they only wanted five minutes or so to say, “I love you Dad.” I responded, “I love you too. How was your day?” I didn’t ask yes/no questions.

My girls knew with my “open door” policy that they were and are more important than anything I’m writing. They said it gave them security knowing they had access to me. Even when I travel for a speaking engagement or consulting, my girls know that if they call, I’m going to answer my cell. I may ask, “Can we talk later?” But I’m going to answer their call.

I also began taking my girls on some of my trips so we could have some one-on-one time. This was more work because when I finished working, there was no down time, but I made memories with them forever! It was good use of those frequent flyer miles and hotel points!

Teaching and coaching my girls in basketball and tennis resulted in bonding more with them. Children and wives spell love: T-I-M-E!

The payoff has been my girls asking me to come see them in college and calling to share their lives with me. I often text them: “I LOVE YOU.”

With my twins being 22 years old and my baby 21, I’m glad they want me in their lives. It isn’t about being perfect. I’ve certainly blown things; but forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It is about consistency. Often, I asked my girls how I was doing as their dad. We had some relevant discussions. They helped me father them better. We all made some changes. They appreciated me apologizing when I was wrong. It is about quantity time, not quality time. QUALITY TIME comes out of QUANTITY TIME.

What I’m trying to say is that my daughters love spending time with me, which is one of the greatest gifts that I continue to treasure.

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

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