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The Father Factor


Spotlight > TOPS DAD Program in Arizona [Video]

"Any man can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad." These words have been said for years. But a program in Arizona is living and teaching them to fathers. We're excited to see this group raise up a new generation of great dads. Check them out... 

tops dad program in Arizona fatherhood program

Tucson News Now recently ran a story about this local group who is giving men real advice about being a dad. TOPS DAD Program is all about giving dads the tools and confidence dads need to be involved in their child's life and becoming the dad they want to be. 

Watch the video below and you'll find a group of dads who understand that becoming a dad is way more than providing with a wallet—it's about being available and present. They call it "The Dad Factor". It means each and every dad has a unique and special gift they bring to raising a child. The group brings this ability out in dads by providing peer support, whether is one-on-one or with a facilitator, and with group settings.

The group knows from experience that getting together to talk with other men is vital because the men learn other ways of doing things. Dads can ask other men about parenting. What a novel idea, right? Get men in a room and get them talking about what it's like to be a dad. We couldn't be more happy about the TOPS DAD Program and what they are doing for Arizona dads. 

Here are details about the TOPS DAD program. 

Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services offers two courses for dads under the TOPS DAD Program. They help every dad from expecting fathers in their teens to fathers in their 40's. 

  • for men under 21, a free program with services that include C-P-R certification, car seat education and support groups.
  • for dads that are 21 and over, a free, onetime workshop for men only. First-time dads learn topics like parental teamwork, handling, and changing a baby and the role of a father in the family.

The group uses our 24/7 Dad® Program, our 12-week program that teaches dads everything from communication and co-parenting strategies, to tips on connecting with their child and how to discipline.

TOPS DAD Program's mission is:

At TOPS, our mission is to create healthy outcomes for children, their families, and the community. Through our TOPS DAD program, we work with fathers of all ages in Maricopa and Pima counties to be involved in their child's life and raise healthy children by instilling the Dad Factor. The Dad Factor means each and every dad has a unique and special gift that they bring to raising their child. Our program, through peer support and one-on-one facilitation, helps to bring that out so that every father can become the dad they want to be.

Learn more about TOPS DAD Program.

The Father Factor Blog

TEDxTalk: First Time Fathers: A Candid View of Their Experiences (Video)

Earlier this year, I was invited to a TEDxTalk, interviewed and then presented. I dedicate this talk to fathers everywhere who play equally critical roles in the lives of their children. 

Fathers are not always biological and sometimes men who father are not in the family of the child. Fathers maybe men who are mentoring a child of a single mother or an uncle, or grandfather who is there to role model what a man is to a fatherless child. I also dedicate this talk to the men who may have desired to be fathers and for whom this may not have been their privilege. May they know their dream was important! I encourage comments on the TEDxTalk and I hope you enjoy it and find it beneficial.

Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.

My own father was diagnosed with a rare form of aggressive cancer in December of 2013. A month before my TEDxTalk he died (February, 2015). My dad was not perfect. He made many mistakes. He was a military man and we grew up in the military. I spoke at his funeral and this is what I thanked him for before he died.  My father taught me to tie my shoes and I learned competence, my father taught me to ride a bike and I learned skill mastery, my father taught me how to play baseball (not softball) and I learned girls were important too! May he rest in peace.

As a Family Life Mentoring Coach, a certified international infant massage instructor, and a researcher, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with men over the years, who have shared candidly with me about their experiences fathering and their relationships with the woman in their life. It has broadened my perspective and has been a privilege to be trusted with their stories, I am deeply grateful.

About the TEDxTalk

What this TEDxTalk is about is the research I conducted at Florida State University with first time fathers. I will give a brief overview, as the many benefits that fathers and their perceptions of the benefits to their babies, were discussed in detail in a prior post.

Just a short recap: I taught fathers infant massage and then gathered data through video recordings, interviews, and diaries fathers kept while massaging their infants throughout the study. What I learned while writing up the research and from fathers outside of the research who spoke with me about the topic was as valuable as the actual research.


Behind the TEDxTalk

What was not in the TEDXTalk that you can view here—I believe is as important—is what I learned writing up the research. In the historical development of attachment theory and bonding (prior 90+ years) only mothers and their infants were included in the studies.

Indeed even the preliminary studies of the 1920's Hammett and the mommy and baby rats, 1930's Harlow and the baby monkeys, 1940's - 1950's Ainsworth and Bowlby human mothers and babies all centered on studying the relationship between the mothers and the babies.

What was in this research was just as important as what was not in the research, as while the research assisted us in understanding how important this first relationship was to babies, it also was responsible for a backlash to mothers. Everything that went wrong in a child's behavior and development was construed by society to be the direct result of "bad mothering."

I am not proposing that there are not less than optimal mothers; however, optimal mothers who were raising children without fathers in the pictures were not granted the benefit of consideration of how hard it was to raise a child without the father in the home. Nor were fathers credited for their equal contribution to the positive outcomes in their children. It was a discredit to mothers, fathers, and most importantly to children. 

The first attempt at a longitudinal study of fathers in the late 90's resulted in the conclusion that fathers did not bond and attach, as did mothers. In reviewing this particular research I discovered that the tool developed by Ainsworth in the middle of the last century to classify babies' attachment behaviors towards their mothers, was the tool was used in this longitudinal study.

Additionally it was used to classify behaviors of older children after spending what would be a considerably short period of time with the fathers. To be perfectly clear, it was inappropriately used in the study considering the original design and development and negates the conclusions of that study.

We need to gather this information from fathers who are involved from the beginning of the pregnancy (babies hear their fathers voices in utero) and at the time of the birth when they have had bonding experiences with their babies (fathers also experience increased levels of oxytocin when they care for the baby) and throughout the development of the child before we make assumptions about bonding and attachment between babies and fathers. As a side note, infant massage provides for an intense bonding experience (chemistry) between the baby and a caregiver as it engages 4 of the 5 senses which are how bonding occurs. 

Since the TEDxTalk

Recent studies at the University of Notre Dame indicate that fathers who sleep near their babies have drops in their testosterone levels and make assertions that this may mean fathers are more responsive to their babies indicating that mothers are not the only parent who can respond to the babies needs. Prior care giving studies indicated that fathers' levels of oxytocin increases the more time they spend in childcare activities such as bathing, changing, feeding and playing with their babies.

In conclusion

As a society when we treat men like they are outsiders and those babies are exclusively the mothers' domain, then, we do children and fathers a disservice. Considering how they were deprived of fathering play as children (dolls were off limits) and deprived of dual custody, based upon gender rather than merit, it most certainly has been the child that suffered.

Fathers who participate in child care classes spend more quality time with their babies and report feeling confident and competent in their role as a father. Both competency and confidence are scientific indicators of long term involvement in the lives of their children. After publishing articles on this research, I wrote the first of many books to come and published it on Amazon, "Hassle Free Bedtime," that includes information from my research and the research of others to support fathers in their journey of acquiring new skills.

Caution on "our parental rights."

Children have a need to be protected from exposure to violence. Neither gender has a right to expose a child to neglect or violence or sexual exploitation as children require a higher standard of responsibility because they are developing and vulnerable. Any parent who claims a right to raise a child or be in the life of the child and who has exposed a child to violence or sexual exploitation has a responsibility to seek treatment before expecting access to their child. 
  The Father Factor Blog

Be One of the First Partners in NFI’s Brand New Partner Program

The value you deserve from an NFI partnership is finally here.

You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. Doesn’t NFI already have partners? Doesn’t NFI partner with thousands of programs, organizations, and initiatives across the nation?” In a way, yes, thousands of them use NFI’s fatherhood resources and programs to engage and give dads the knowledge and skills they need.

But here’s the rub. Partnering means different things to different people. Many programs, organizations, and initiatives have expressed a desire through the years for a deeper, more intimate, more valuable relationship with NFI. We heard them, but didn’t have the pieces in place to provide the kind of value they deserved.

Now we have the pieces in place to offer that value.

Read on to learn how you can get in on the ground floor.


What’s it All About? 

The new NFI Partner Program is ideal for two types/groups:

a)    Fatherhood and family strengthening programs and organizations

b)   Fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives that operate at a city or county level

The NFI Partner Program is a program unlike anything we’ve offered, and works to deepen the connection between NFI and programs, organizations, and initiatives committed to increasing the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. There will be two types of partners:

  • Premier Partners: New and existing fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives who operate at a city or county level. These initiatives are typically multi-sector in nature, and have organizations as participants in the initiative that provide programs and services to fathers. These initiatives can be managed/led by an individual organization (e.g. housed within an organization that acts as a “lead agency”), but they must be a distinct entity that involves other organizations and individuals in the city or county.
  • Partners: Individual organizations, or fatherhood and family strengthening programs within organizations, which are not necessarily part of larger fatherhood or family strengthening initiatives (although they can be) that provide programs and services to fathers. Organizations that do not have a distinct fatherhood or family-strengthening program may provide programs and services to fathers as part of another program that benefits fathers in some capacity (e.g. workforce development, child welfare, etc.).

Click here for more information on eligibility.

Why is becoming an NFI Partner Valuable?

The NFI Partner Program helps address the following pain points (challenges) faced by programs/organizations and initiatives:

  • Securing initial and ongoing funding
  • Engaging the community
  • Proving return on investment (ROI)
  • Aligning with a national organization to take their program to the next level

For programs/organizations, it also provides training on addressing the 5 main pain points faced by organizations and programs in serving fathers. And for initiatives, it also helps ensure ongoing commitment of initiative partners.

Click here to learn more about the value of becoming an NFI Partner or Premier Partner.

How Does it Deliver Value?

The NFI Partner Program offers a benefits package that helps initiate and sustains father-focused efforts of programs, organizations, and initiatives, by leveraging a combination of unique partnerships NFI has developed with companies. Partners of NFI will also benefit from NFI’s overall and individual brands and other assets.

How Many Partners Does NFI Seek?

To begin, we’re seeking 10 Partners (organizations or programs within organizations) and 5 Premier Partners who will be designated Charter Partners and Charter Premier Partners.

Partners in this initial group will be the only partners ever to receive the “Charter” designation. We won’t open the program to other potential partners until some time next year.

Why Such a Small Group?

We’re committed to starting this program off on the right foot. We won’t bite off more than we can chew. We also want to begin by partnering with a select group who are completely committed to making a difference in the lives of children, fathers, and families.

Becoming an NFI Partner isn’t for any program, organization, or initiative. It’s for those that are truly committed to the cause of addressing father absence.

What’s the Next Step?

Apply to become a Charter Partner. Download the Request for Partnership (RFP) for the type of partner you’d like to become. (An entity can qualify for both types of partners if it meets the eligibility requirements of each type.)

Learn more about the Partner Program benefits here, or head over here to download the RFP's.

Spotlight > The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood [Video]

Several groups in Ohio are doing amazing work to connect fathers and families, and we think you should know about them. The following post and video describe the exciting, state-wide work being done by the Ohio Commission on Fatherhood.

Keep reading to be inspired by Ohio. You could do something similar for fathers (and children) in your state or county.


The Ohio Commission on Fatherhood is a state-wide commission housed within the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. Their mission is to enhance the well-being of Ohio's children by providing opportunities for fathers to become better parents, partners and providers.

As the lead agency for the Commission, they offer training and guidance to help county organizations design programs to engage fathers and promote responsible parenting. This gives organizations across the state a solid support system for intentionally offering programs and services for fathers.

In fact, the groups you see on this video came together because Ohio brought in NFI to conduct our Community Engagement and Mobilization Planning Approach, helping to rally Ohio state organizations around fatherhood in a cohesive way. In the video you'll see NFI's very own Erik Vecere facilitating the planning sessions.

View the full video here.

What is the goal of the Ohio County Fatherhood Initiative? 

"We believe we can raise the level of father involvement, creating opportunities to train fathers so they can be engage in employment." —Burl Lemon, Executive Director “Forever Dad” Muskingum County

“One of the biggest things is community mapping and being able to get some insight in terms of how our county is laid out, what the initiatives that already exist in our county are, so that we are not reinventing the wheel, and actually be able to map out where the different agencies are, community partners, and who our key stakeholders are in our county to be able to launch this initiative." —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

Why participate in the Ohio County Fatherhood Initiative?

“Weve allowed fathers to take a back seat and I think what this will do will heighten the awareness of the tremendous value that a father plays in a child's life. And because of that, our communities are betterour countrys better." —Kelly Lynch, Executive Director, Guernsey County Children’s Service

"On a bigger level, its been able to connect me as a stakeholder with childrens services, with our county leadership, and to know that this is an initiative that is important on both the local and state and federal level and what a concern it is a problem I think we all own…but the solution we can all own as well.” —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

“When you help a dad, youre really helping out the whole family. Its not just a moms versus dads thing. If you help the dad get his act together, then he can be a better father and then also be a little bit more cooperative with the mother, so it helps everybody. —Michael Newsom, Social Program Coordinator, Montgomery County

Would you recommend other counties to participate? 

“I would recommend this training to others. Its unfortunate that everybody cant be a part of this. So Im very fortunate to be a part of todays session here. I think its important to know how to mobilize one another in your community and at a state level too." —Ann Ream, Director of Protective Services, Summit County Children Services

I think it would be a good program for business leaders. I think it would be a good program for civic leaders and government officials. I think it would be an excellent for service providers and a cross-spectrum of people who are working with families.” —James McDonald, Director of Muskingum Counseling Center

Interested in mobilizing your community? Visit here for more information on bringing responsible fatherhood training to life in your community. Read more about how we work with state/county initiatives here

Tell us > What would you like to see your county or state do for fathers?

The Father Factor Blog

How Mass Media Portray Dads & What You Can Do About It

It's easy to complain about the negative fatherhood stereotypes that mass media often portrays. But, rarely do I see the depth of information and application of research into practical tips for leaders than what can be found in the following article from NFI's president, Christopher A. Brown.

Brown recently wrote a fasinating article titled, "Americans' View of Fathers' Competency as Parents Through a Mass Media Lens" at the request of Zero to Three Journal. Chris has over a decade of experience working with fathers at NFI, and in this article you can see his gift of applying science and research to explain culture and help individuals and organizations encourage more involved fathers. Let's talk about it...


Brown's article was written to raises awareness among professionals in the field of infant mental health. But, you will no doubt see this information can be used by a much wider audience. Brown points out from the research that TV is still one of the major forms of mass media shaping our values and perceptions, from sitcoms to advertising and commercials.

He reveals some telling stats on America's use of TV, particularly: 

  • Nearly every home (97%) has at least one TV
  • The average home contains nearly 3 TVs.
  • Americans watch TV 3-5 hours a day.
  • Adults watch nearly 38% more TV than children.

The Fatherhood Image in TV and Advertising
From Jim Anderson in Father Knows Best to Al Bundy in Married...With Children and Jay Pritchett of Modern Family, TV dads are usually portrayed as foolish, no matter what race or socioeconomic status is depicted.

The portrayal of fathers in commercials and advertising play a huge role in how we see fathers. Studies show commercials rarely portray men as nurturers. Brown points out one study found "when fathers were included in commercials, none of them were portrayed as nurturers whereas half of mothers were portrayed as nurturers (Gentry & Harrison, 2010)." 

Brown says that fathers are still often portrayed by consumer brands as one extreme or the other. On the one side fathers are shown as incompetent, foolish, and emotionally disconnected as parents. "The double standard involves competent, wise, emotionally connected mothers who must often rescue those fathers," says Brown. He cites Lowe's and LG for his research

But thankfully, there's the other extreme. Brands who show dads as competent, nurturing, and emotionally healthy parents. Brown cites General Mills Canada and Toyota as two such brands. General Mills' #HowToDad and Toyota's 2015 Super Bowl campaign "One Bold Choice Leads to Another" campaign promoted positive fatherhood images. The General Mills and Toyota campaigns show the reality of parenting today. As Chris points out: 

"The influence of parents as partners in raising children is all aspects of domestic life has continued to grow. Fathers have taken on a steadily increasing share of the parenting load in recent decades (USA Today, 2013). Fathers spend more time than ever with their children generally, grocery and retail shopping for the family, and doing housework (e.g., cooking and cleaning). Fathers are also more focused than ever on the desire to balance work and family. Indeed, they're often more conflicted than mothers in this regard (Aumann, Galinsky, & Matos, 2011)."

Why is Fathers' Portrayal Important?
Research is clear that a child needs the presence and involvement of his/her father. We know that kids who grow up with involved fathers are better off across all physical, emotional, mental, and social outcomes than a child who grows up without his/her father. So, we can deduct that fathers' involvement is as least as important as mothers' involvement to the healthy development of the child. 

Sadly, parents and professionals are often not aware of this evidence, and so their views aren't informed and shaped by this education. If mass media is getting fatherhood wrong, what about parents and professionals who've had negative experiences with their fathers/husbands/partners of their own children?

This kind of negative slide is what Chris says can lead to the "ultimate detriment of children and families." He says:

"When professionals hold a negative view of fathers, they are reluctant to engage fathers and may unwittingly support negative maternal views of fathers by not encouraging the mothers to involve fathers. Professionals also reinforce fathers' negative view of themselves by not proactively engaging fathers to show them they can be good parents."

What You Can Do?
Brown writes more in depth in his article about how we view fathers and how that view effects us. But he doesn't stop there. He closes his article with helpful ideas of what professionals (like you!) can do to counteract the negative portrayals of fathers.

Remember, this is all about the well-being of children. So, the message that dad can be competent and involved only helps the cause -- it does not hurt. If you are a professional (educator or not) you have a special role in shaping the view of fathers' competency. 

From TV portrayals, to mass media advertising, and even digital and social media, seeking to counteract whatever bad or negative portrayals you've seen from dads in your life is important—for you and for those around you.

The following list will prove helpful in seeking to view fatherhood as you should—as important and vital to children. The following tips can be found in more detail in the full article here:

  • Identify whether parents have a positive or negative view of fathers' competency and potential competency. Brown suggests asking non-threatening, open-ended questions to identify the parent's view of the father and fathers in general.
  • Identify whether the TV shows and advertising parents watch support or don't support a positive view of fathers' competency. Ask parents about the ways in which fathers are portrayed in the TV shows and advertising parents watch. Ask whether those portrayals are realistic and how they support or don't support parents' view of fathers competency.
  • Encourage parents to watch TV shows that portray fathers as competent, nurturing parents. Make a list of TV shows to watch. Identify shows that portray fathers as competent and nurturing. It's fine if the father struggles in his role as long as he is competent and nurturing. You can also look for shows that include a healthy relationship between the father and mother, even if the parents aren't together. 
  • Encourage parents to pay attention to the TV shows their children watch and how those shows portray fathers. Children's shows can contain negative portrayals of fathers. These shows shape children's views of fathers in general. They can also reinforce a negative view a child might have of his own father, especially if the child's mother talks negatively about the father to or in front of the child. Encourage parents to talk with their children about the portrayals of fathers in the shows their children watch. Tell parents to expose their children to shows with positive portrayals and even to watch those shows together. 
  • Engage fathers right from the start. There are a number of ways professionals can engage fathers from their very first encounter with clients. Simple acts like including information on program intake forms that capture the father's information and more involved acts like requiring the father's presence (when feasible) at initial and subsequent parent engagements (e.g., home visits) send an important message—the father is important and valuable.
  • Provide parents with access to information, such as literature (e.g., brochures and guides) and websites, which discuss the importance of father involvement in children's lives or provide advice on how fathers can become more involved generally and in specific areas of children's lives (e.g., education and sports). Professionals should ensure that the sources of information are appropriate for a parent's literacy level and informed by research.
  • Conduct programs or workshops for fathers on father involvement or refer fathers to organizations that provide such programs or workshops. Increasing father involvement doesn't happen overnight. Some fathers need training on how to be a better father. There are fathering programs that last several months and workshops that last a day to a few days. Ensure that the programs and workshops are based on or informed by evidence on what works to increase father involvement. 
  • Provide literature or conduct programs or workshops for mothers on improving the relationships they have with the fathers of their children. Maternal gatekeeping is when a mother can inhibit a father's access to his child. A mother can do so consciously or unconsciously whether she and the father are married, cohabitating, or never married. There are resources, programs, and workshops that seek to address maternal gatekeeping by raising mothers' awareness of this phenomenon and encouraging mothers to loosen unnecessary restrictions on fathers' access to their children.
  • Assess the "father readiness" of professionals' organizations and implement strategies and tactics to increase father readiness. Professionals rarely practice in a vacuum. They are usually part of an organization that is dedicated to or has a focus on infant mental health (or another specific area) and work with parents. The culture and practices of an organization influence the professional's work with parents. An organization that believes, for example, in the value of fathers will encourage a professional to engage fathers and, hopefully, provide resources (e.g., funds and training) to help the professional with that task. An organization that doesn't value fathers will erect barriers to a professional's attempts to engage fathers. Tools exists that help professionals—indeed, entire organizations—assess an organization's willingness and readiness to engage fathers and create no-cost and low-cost strategies and tactics to increase father readiness (see NFI's Father Friendly Checkup). 

The culture and mass media messages we see daily create a challenging atmosphere in which to engage fathers and create a culture where father involvement is important. Digital and social media increase this challenge. Whether you are combating negative portrayals of fatherhood in media, in your place of work, or in your own family, you can be a positive impact on a child. You can send a powerful message about the importance of fathers to the well-being of children in your life. Whether you've seen a great dad or not—you no doubt understand that creating more dads who are involved is a vital mission.

Please read our president, Christopher A. Brown's, full article by downloading the PDF here. It's only available for only a limited time.

The Father Factor Blog

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 5th Competency

Funding. Funding. Funding. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about recruitment and retention as being the bane of practitioners’ existence. That’s only half the story. The other half of practitioners’ bane, if you will, is funding fatherhood programs.


This post is the fifth and final in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read the post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization

Click here to read the post on the 2nd competency: How to Design a Best Practice Fatherhood Program

Click here to read the post on the 3rd competency: How to Think Like a Marketer

Click here to read last week’s post on the 4th competency: How to Involve Moms 


The key to raising funds to start and maintain a fatherhood program is identifying diverse funding sources and securing funds from those sources that, when combined, provide multiple funding streams. All too often practitioners and organizations rely on one or two funding sources, which places the program at risk when those sources dry up as most eventually do. And all too often they’re involved in “crisis fundraising” that is reactive rather than proactive.

The fifth competency in effectively engaging fathers centers around the development of a well thought out, comprehensive Fund Development Plan for your fatherhood program that involves:

  • Identifying and securing of funds for the program.
  • How to position the fatherhood program within a larger context (i.e. related issue such as child abuse prevention).

Such a plan: 

  • Focuses on activities/tactics for raising funds.
  • Answers:
    • How you will identify funding sources?
    • How you will secure funds from sources?
    • Who will help identify and secure funds?
  • Limits crisis fundraising by:
    • Identifying opportunities to meet current program needs.
    • Identifying opportunities to meet future program needs.

To create an effective plan, you need to learn how to research, select, and engage (initially and ongoing) individual donors and other funding sources (e.g. family foundations). 

FEC Session 5: How to Develop a Funding Plan for a Fatherhood Program

This session helps you think through how you will fund your fatherhood program, and covers the importance of a Fund Development Plan. You will learn about the nuances of raising funds from individuals and foundations, as well as how to profile, research, select, and engage different types of funders/funding streams. Thinking through your funding options will help you prepare to launch a successful, sustainable fatherhood program.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training


Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

Do you have a funding plan for your fatherhood program?

Does your plan include current needs and anticipate future needs?



The Father Factor Blog

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic]

NFI stretches your dollars through our capacity-building approach.

Every child deserves a 24/7 Dad. From free fatherhood resources to fatherhood products, programs and trainings, your donation supports our mission.

In fact, our free fatherhood resources now out number the products and resources we sell in our store. Today, we have 105 free resources that can be downloaded, read, watched, and reviewed. For instance, our free resource The Ultimate Guide to Connecting with Your Child has been downloaded almost 5,000 times! That's 5,000 fathers that are now armed with questions they can ask their child to generate meaningful conversations.

Just as we exist to create more involved dads, we serve fatherhood programs and organizations. Your donation also helps us create free resources for fatherhood leaders and organizations. Basically, you can think of us as a Cisco Systems or IBM of the family-strengthening arena. Just like IBM helps other businesses and governments build their technology infrastructures, we help other organizations and governments build their family-strengthening infrastructures.

Let's look at the problem of father absence, what NFI does to remedy this problem, and just how much your support truly matters...

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to

The Root

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to

One out of three American children live without their dad. That’s 24 million children, enough to populate New York City three times! These children are in every community, including your own. You can help these children by ensuring your dollars have maximum impact on child well-being.

How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to new york city nyc

NFI Connects Fathers and Children

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  • We are the go-to source for thousands of organizations to obtain effective fatherhood training, programs, and other resources.
  • We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization relying on contributions from individuals and foundations to improve child well-being and prevent father absence.
  • NFI builds the capacities of those organizations to offer programs and services for dads, moms, and families.

NFI's Partners Include:

6-military-icon How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to
Military > 
All branches of the U.S. Military, National Guard, and Reserve Units


corrections prison jail How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.orgCorrections > State, county, and private prisons/jails; Federal Bureau of Prisons; and state, county, and local reentry programs.


8-agency-icon How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to state local county government agency

State and Local/County Agencies > Health and Human Services; maternal and child health and welfare programs; and child abuse prevention organizations.


9-community-based-icon How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to fatherhood.orgCommunity-Based Organizations > Community action agencies; head start and healthy start programs; grassroots fatherhood and family service organizations; and schools.

We track our success and impact through: U.S. Census data; program and project evaluations; number of resources distributed and organizations trained; and case studies, stories of impact and testimonials.

NFI’s Impact:

More than 7 Million NFI RESOURCES have been distributed to dads and momsNFI programs are used in all 50 states, Washington D.C, and U.S. Territories. 

NFI has trained more than…

  • 6,300 Organizations In-Person
  • 14,100 Staff In-Person
  • 15,000 Staff Online
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A child raised with a dad is:

  • 4X less likely to live in poverty
  • 2X more likely to graduate high school
  • 7X less likely to become or get someone pregnant as a teen
  • 2X less likely to have emotional or behavioral problems
  • 7X less likely to be incarcerated as an adult
11-child-raised-with-dad-image stats fatherless home stats research How to Stretch Your Dollars for Children [Infographic] donate to

NFI stretches your dollar through our national network that reaches into your backyard.

Fathers matter. Your support matters.

Begin making a difference for children everywhere. 
Donate today. Visit

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Click here or anywhere on the infographic to enlarge, download or share.

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The Father Factor Blog

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 4th Competency

Mom and dad don’t get along. Maybe they hate each other. Perhaps there is, unfortunately, a history of abuse in the relationship. Mom might not even realize that she restricts dad’s access to his children. Do any of these descriptions ring true in your work with fathers, mothers, families?


This post is the fourth in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read the post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization

Click here to read the post on the 2nd competency: How to Design a Best Practice Fatherhood Program

Click here to read last week’s post on the 3rd competency: How to Think Like a Marketer 

Involving Moms in Promoting Father Involvement

Our country has a remarkable structure that addresses the health and well-being of women, mothers, and children. While there are certainly issues with that structure and areas for improvement, there’s no debate about the lack of a structure that addresses the well-being of men and fathers. 

Unfortunately, fathers are most often the parent left out of the parenting equation when organizations implement parenting and family-strengthening programs. To be fair, fathers are often reluctant to avail themselves of these programs; nevertheless, organizations typically don’t make a concerted effort to reach them. Consequently, “parent” is a code word for “mom” from many fathers’ perspective. Organizations fail to speak directly to the needs and wants of fathers.

Fatherhood programs can’t make the same mistake—that is, leave moms out of the equation when it comes to implementing a fatherhood program. But wait, you might say: What do moms have to do with implementing a fatherhood program? A lot. 

Mothers are often the gatekeepers when it comes to fathers’ access to their children. Mothers can facilitate or hinder fathers’ involvement, particularly when fathers are non-residential or non-custodial. Even when mothers and fathers are romantically involved and living in the same home, mothers can unconsciously and unnecessarily restrict fathers’ access to their children.

That’s why it’s vital that you learn how to go the extra mile and build the fourth competency in effectively engaging fathers in Session 4 of the Father Engagement Certificate training: How to Work with Moms to Encourage Father Involvement.

This session covers the “why” and “how” to involving moms in encouraging father involvement. Learn about the “Five Aspects of Family Life” associated with father involvement, and how to use “intensity levels” to assess how you should approach involving moms. Also learn why training female staff to more effectively engage fathers is so important, and about a free resource from NFI that will help you train female staff to more effectively engage fathers.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training


Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

How much do you know about the impact of mothers in ability of the fathers you serve to be as involved as possible in the lives of their children?

Do you know the typical behaviors associated with “restrictive gatekeeping?”




The Father Factor Blog

Happy Father's Day, from The Drac Pack and NFI! (Hotel Transylvania 2 Official Trailer)

It’s time to celebrate the man who always knows just what to say...Happy Father's Day from Hotel Transylvania 2This Fall, see what happens when "Vampa Drac" calls in his dad Vlad for backup! Check out the brand new trailer to see Drac, Johnny, Mavis, Dennis and all your favorite monsters on a whole new human-monster adventure!


About Hotel Transylvania 2

The Drac pack is back for an all-new monster comedy adventure in Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania 2!

Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania... Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests.

But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny – and in for a major cultural shock of her own – “Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp.

But little do they know that Drac’s grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood – and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania – things are going to get batty!

Hotel Transylvania 2 in theaters September 25th!

Get a Sneak Peek of Hotel Transylvania 2!

Watch the official trailer for Hotel Transylvania 2.


Follow Hotel Transylvania 2

Find more information at


Cast of Hotel Transylvania 2 


  • Adam Sandler (Dracula)
  • Andy Samberg (Johnny)
  • Selena Gomez (Mavis)
  • Kevin James (Frank)
  • Fran Drescher (Eunice)
  • Steve Buscemi (Wayne)
  • Molly Shannon (Wanda)
  • David Spade (Griffin)
  • Keegan-Michael Key (Murray)
  • and Mel Brooks (Vlad)

This film is not yet rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. For future rating information, please visit

The Father Factor Blog

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 3rd Competency

Is marketing the same thing as outreach? Is marketing the same thing as promotion? Is marketing the same thing as sales? How should an organization market a program or service differently to fathers compared to mothers? Those are tough questions to answer, which is why understanding how to think like a marketer is so vital to effectively engaging fathers.


This post is the third in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read the post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization, and here to read last week’s post on the 2nd competency: How to Design a Best Practice Fatherhood Program.

Thinking Like a Marketer 

Recruitment and retention are the bane of many practitioners’ existence. I can’t tell you how many folks have approached me over the years with tales of woe when it comes to recruiting fathers to enroll in a program and to maintain their participation after enrollment. 

Unfortunately, successful recruitment and retention are not simply a matter of cutting and pasting tactics that have worked for other programs. While you can certainly borrow some tactics that might work in your situation, every program must learn on its own what works to effectively recruit fathers and maintain their participation. What will work for your program will likely be a combination of what has worked elsewhere and what’s unique for your fathers in your setting. You also have to understand the difference between how to get fathers to enroll in a program and how to get them to stay after enrollment.

For those reasons and others, learning how to think like a marketer is the third competency to effectively engaging fathers. Marketing a fatherhood program involves:

  • Learning how to think logically and creatively.
  • Learning key behavior-change theories and their role in motivating fathers.
  • Learning how the “marketing mix” impacts the design of a marketing campaign.
  • Understanding the role today’s technology plays in reaching and keeping fathers engaged.
  • Understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Understanding that marketing requires time and patience to do correctly.

That’s why Session 3 of the Father Engagement Certificate helps you learn How to Think Like a Marketer When Marketing a Fatherhood Program. It covers important behavior-change theories and how they contribute to marketing a fatherhood program, the role of the marketing mix in marketing a fatherhood program (the 7Ps of marketing a fatherhood program), and the role of technology in promoting a fatherhood program.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training


Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

Do you know how to think like a marketer?

How easy or difficult is it for your program to recruit fathers and maintain their participation?



The Father Factor Blog

Study Lays Evidence Base for 24/7 Dad®

An ongoing study in Hawai‘i using an experimental design has found that NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program develops pro-fathering knowledge and attitudes and the five characteristics of the 24/7 Dad. It also improves behaviors expected of today’s contemporary fathers, the quality of father-child relationships, and fathers’ co-parenting, thus improving fathers’ relationships with the mothers of their children. This study lays the evidence base for the program.

Study Lays Evidence Base for 24/7 Dad® university of hawaii center on the familyA research team at the Center on the Family at the University of Hawai‘i led by Dr. Selva Lewin-Bizan evaluated the program by randomly assigning fathers to treatment and control groups. Fathers in the treatment group participated in 24/7 Dad® while fathers in the control group did not. Random assignment is considered the “gold standard” of research design because it reduces selection bias, thus the likelihood that outcomes are due to chance rather than the intervention.

In addition to this research design, what makes this study so important is the research team found the program improved not only fathers’ pro-fathering knowledge and attitudes, it improved father involvement, the quality of the father-child relationship, and the quality of the father-mother relationship, as measured by improvements in co-parenting. Affecting knowledge and attitudes is important, because they are antecedents of behavior, but positively affecting them doesn’t necessarily lead to behavior change. This study found behavior change within the two most important relationships of fathers that are the primary focus of the program. 

And that’s not all. The program also affected fathers’ happiness in being a parent. Fathers reported being happier as a parent after completing the program. Moreover, the improvements in father involvement and co-parenting were held over time. 

Dr. Lewin-Bizan employed several evaluation tools with fathers in both groups to compare the impact of the program. These tools included the pre- and post-survey that is part of the 24/7 Dad® program (measures pro-fathering knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy related to the five characteristics of the 24/7 Dad) and several previously validated instruments that measure fathers’ involvement with their children, fathers’ self perception of their parenting role, co-parenting, and fathers’ degree of happiness in being a parent. Her team administered all of the instruments before and immediately after the program ended, and administered the father involvement and co-parenting instruments at a six-week follow up. 

This study adds to a number of studies on the positive impact and effectiveness of 24/7 Dad® in a variety of settings and with racially and ethnically diverse fathers of all ages. To download this study and others, click here.

The Father Factor Blog

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 2nd Competency

Quickly…name three best practices in designing effective fatherhood programs. Cat got your tongue? If so, you’re not alone. Answering that question is about as hard as scoring a 2400 on the SAT.


This post is the second in a weekly series in which I highlight the five core competencies you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement CertificateTM (FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.

Click here to read last week’s post on the 1st competency: How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization

Best Practices

The second competency in effectively engaging fathers is the ability to design a fatherhood program (or service) based on the practices that have the most impact on program success. These practices—commonly referred to as “best practices”—provide the foundation or structure for effectively engaging fathers regardless of your experience serving fathers, the kinds of fathers you serve, or the setting in which you serve them. 

What, exactly, are best practices? Simply put, they’re successful, community-invented efforts (culturally relevant) worth emulating. They tell you:

  • Exactly what needs to be done differently.
  • What’s working and how you can do more of it.


  • They’re identified through observation.
  • They provide direction, hope, and motivation around change.
  • They address root causes and challenge conventional wisdom.
  • They avoid “analysis paralysis” by taking focus off “the problem” and putting it on “the solution.”
  • They create positive, short- and long-term change.

But it’s not just enough to learn these practices and how to apply them. It’s also vital that you know the “blind spots” that hinder organizations in effectively serving fathers. You need to know what they are and which ones are most relevant to your organization so you can avoid being blindsided by them. 

Thus, Session 2 of the Father Engagement Certificate covers Program Design Using 7 Best Practices. This session provides you with a simple, flexible approach based on seven best practices to design an exceptional, unique, community-based fatherhood program. Learn about blind spots that hinder organizations in creating effective fatherhood programs, resources NFI has designed to help organizations leverage and unlock the power of the best practices, as well as other best practices that might be right under your nose.

Click Here to Start Your Father Engagement Training


Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate

What does your organization do really well in serving fathers that you should do more often?

What are the biggest hurdles your organization must leap to become as successful as possible in serving fathers?



The Father Factor Blog

Dads Graduate Fatherhood Pilot Program in McNairy Co Jail, Selmer, Tenn [Video]

It's that time of year, the time for graduation speeches and shaking hands for a job well done. As students across the nation are receiving certificates for their accomplishments, here are gentlemen getting a different certificate for walking the line. Reporting from Selmer, Tennessee, ABC WBBJ Eye Witness News 7 Journalist Katie Shambo shows a graduate program of a different kind—but filled with even more sense of accomplishment and purpose.


You can read the original post Dads Graduate from Pilot Program in McNairy Co Jail. Coverage and excerpts from the original story follows in this post.

It's Wednesday morning, and the McNairy County Jail is holding its first graduation for its fatherhood pilot program. "The sheriff said that I don't have to come back and that really stuck with me," inmate and InsideOut Dad® graduate Joseph Lands, says. Shambo reports, Lands has been working toward this day since September.

"The sheriff said that I don't have
to come back and that really stuck with me."
—Joseph Lands (InsideOut Dad® graduate)

"It means the world. I mean without a second chance we'd be dead in the water we wouldn't have a leg to stand on and this gives us an opportunity to be a better person to be a productive member of society," says Land.

Shambo says Lands is one of five inmates who make up the McNairy County Jail's first graduating class of the Inside Out Dad® program. As NFI readers know, the program was established to help incarcerated fathers with fatherhood and parenting skills along with other resources and opportunities that will help them when they're released.

"It's a curriculum to help them be better fathers, to help them be better husbands, to help them be better leaders of their families and be better in the workforce," director Jimmy Bell said. Each year 700,000 people are released from jails and prisons and within three years more than two-thirds of them are back behind bars.

"It's a curriculum [InsideOut Dad®]
to help them be better fathers,
to help them be better husbands,
to help them be better leaders of their families
and be better in the workforce."
—Jimmy Bell, 

For some, jail is a time to rethink, refocus and make the necessary steps not to re-offend and that's what the Inside Out Dad® program is designed to do. "Knowing that people care it helps out a lot. I mean it makes you want to strive to be a better person it's a good thing," Lands said.

Shambo points out that Lands has a 10-year-old daughter. Lands has been in and out of jail six times, but with his new skills and resources, "this will be my last," he says.

Director Jimmy Bell says that "in addition to helping the men be better dads they are now prepared to support their families." "They all have a resume now," says Bell, "They also now have a desire to leave a life of crime behind."

"They all have a resume now...
they also now have a desire
to leave a life of crime behind."
—Jimmy Bell, Director

Shambo reports 
The Southwest Human Resource Agency plans to implement the program in seven more West Tennessee County jails by July 1. In McNairy County, they will also begin a similar program for women in July.

Watch the video that follows about the first fatherhood program in McNairy County, Selmer, Tennessee. Learn about how these men are set to walk a different path—a path leading back to their families. Make no mistake about it, there may not be institutional columns or caps and gowns in this video, but among the prison bars and orange jail suits, these men are no longer called by their inmate number. They are called by their new names...24/7 Dads.

Can't view the video? Watch the full video and interview about the Inside Out Dad® Program in this Tennessee Pilot Program here.

Visit us for more information on the Inside Out Dad® Program or register for our upcoming webinar training for InsideOut Dad® happening June 25th. Get the official 24/7 Dad® t-shirt for you or the group you lead here

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The Father Factor Blog

How to Effectively Engage Fathers: The 1st Competency

Many practitioners and organizations “leap before they look” when engaging fathers, as they often don’t take the time to consider the competencies they need to effectively engage fathers. As a result, they step off a cliff and into an abyss, and soon wonder why working with fathers is such a challenge.

blindfold-businessman-loop-before-leapingDuring the next five weeks, I’ll highlight the five core competencies (one per week) you need to effectively engage fathers, and how you can develop each competency with NFI’s Father Engagement Certificate(FEC), an affordable on demand training that will help you develop those competencies.  

Creating a Father-Friendly Organization 

The first competency in effectively engaging fathers is often the most overlooked: the ability to create a father-friendly organization. The fact that it’s often overlooked is unfortunate because it lays the foundation for the other competencies and success in engaging fathers.

What does it mean to be father friendly? It means that serving fathers is integrated into the fabric of an organization’s culture. Specifically:

  • The leaders and other stakeholders have “bought into” and provide emotional and material (e.g. financial) support to serving fathers.
  • The policies and procedures of the organization—the nuts and bolts that guide staff behavior—are inclusive of fathers, encourage staff to engage fathers, and hold staff accountable when they don’t effectively engage them.
  • The programs and services include fathers as a distinct audience to serve and include content relevant to fathers’ needs and wants as men and parents.
  • The organization engages the community in promoting its service to fathers (e.g. via referrals from other organizations) and to generate support (e.g. financial and political) for its father engagement efforts.

The trap many practitioners fall into is thinking their organization is father friendly simply because they have a fatherhood program or serve fathers as part of a larger program (e.g. general parenting or family-strengthening program). They don’t understand that it’s not enough to simply add a program, service, or other effort aimed at fathers. It’s vital to adopt a holistic approach in creating an organization that, at its very core, understands the importance of serving fathers and acts on that understanding.

That’s why Session 1 in our Father Engagement Certificate training teaches you How to Create a Father-Friendly Organization from a holistic perspective, with a focus on four areas for improvement that create an organizational culture that supports exceptional fatherhood programs and services. Learn the 8 Pillars of Leadership and no-cost and low-cost tactics to help your organization become father friendly, and also about The Father Friendly Check-Up: the most widely used tool in the nation that helps organizations become father friendly. The session also includes case studies of how other organizations have successfully used this tool.

How father friendly is your organization?

Can you name the four areas of focus in creating a father-friendly organization?

Don’t delay. Click here to start the process of earning your Father Engagement Certificate



The Father Factor Blog

Research to Application: Keystone Habits

In the first installment of this Research to Application series (Cues, Triggers, and Nudges), we introduced you to research from Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit1 and how organizations and practitioners can use this research to improve the effectiveness of a service, workshop, or program for fathers. In discussing the role of cues, we described the research Duhigg highlights on the power of habits and the role they play in our lives.

This installment focuses on another important aspect of the research Duhigg highlights: the concept of keystone habits.


These are the habits that matter more than others in changing unhealthy behaviors or developing healthy ones. As you can imagine, keystone habits are very important as they relate to father absence and encouraging father involvement… more on that soon.

But let’s begin by sharing one of Duhigg’s diverse examples of keystone habits and their importance in triggering a cascade of change: integrating exercise.

As Duhigg points out, research shows that when people start habitually exercising, they usually:

  • Eat better
  • Smoke less
  • Become more productive at work
  • Show more patience
  • Feel less stressed
  • Use their credit cards less often

Yes. They even become more financially responsible, at least in a specific way.

That kind of change might seem odd until you realize that exercise has a spillover or cascade effect that triggers other healthy habits because it makes other habits easier. Think of the power of exercise as the first domino in a domino structure that, when pushed into the next domino, triggers all the other dominos to fall one by one. Similarly, the power of exercise is not only in its ability to help people lose weight and become more fit; its power is also in its ability to start widespread, positive change in people’s lives—even in areas that seem unrelated to physical fitness.

The power of keystone habits explains why being an involved father is so powerful. Father involvement is a keystone habit. (Actually, a set of habits that form a keystone habit.) That’s why father involvement affects so many areas of fathers’ lives and the lives of children, mothers, and families, and even the environment in communities. When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, it triggers positive behavior in other aspects of fathers’ lives (e.g. they engage in healthier behavior), children’s lives (e.g. they are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs), and mothers’ lives (e.g. they are healthier during their pregnancies). It’s also why it positively affects our society (e.g. lower levels of poverty and child abuse and more educational success for children). It’s why more resources must be focused on addressing the crisis of father absence. 

Ideas on Application

When it comes to working with fathers individually or in groups, you can use the power of keystone habits to help fathers identify the habits (behaviors) unique to them that: 1) trigger a lack of father involvement, and 2) will trigger greater father involvement. (You can also use keystone habits to look for clues that will improve father-mother relationships.) It’s likely that a single habit will contribute to a lack of father involvement or trigger more father involvement (moreover, it’s likely to be a group of habits.) Nevertheless, one or two of those habits might be more important than the others, thus revealing an area(s) of focus for immediate change.

To apply the power of keystone habits, use the following process, which you can customize to fit your setting (e.g. group, one-on-one case management, etc.):

Step 1: Develop a comprehensive list of frequent/regular activities/behaviors.

  • Identify the “universe” of frequent/regular activities/behaviors that fathers currently engage in.
  • Ask fathers to write or tell you (and you record) their activities/behaviors during a typical week. Consider using the structure of roles in which to group activities, such as father, husband/partner, worker/employee, friend, etc. You could start by asking fathers the roles they have, and then ask them to list the activities they engage in each week to perform those roles.
  • After fathers develop their weekly activities, ask if they perform activities less frequently (e.g. monthly), but that they do consistently, to ensure you get a comprehensive list.

Step 2: Identify existing keystone habits that promote father absence.

  • Look for keystone habits that encourage or lead to father absence. Focus on habits that are within his control.
  • Ask of each father: What do you do with such frequency that it prevents you from being present? After you identify those habits, ask: How can you eliminate them? Work with fathers to develop tactics to eliminate these poor habits. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Step 3: Identify existing and potential keystone habits that promote father involvement.

  • Look for keystone habits that encourage or lead to father involvement.Again, focus on habits that are within his control.
  • Ask of each father: What do you do that gets you involved and that you could do with more frequency? Add to that list habits for fathers to consider integrating into their lives. You can come with a list to discuss or start developing a list with fathers from scratch. Identify habits within fathers’ control, they can do frequently (e.g. several times a week or once a week), and that provide “small wins.”

Step 4: Focus on small wins.

  • After fathers develop their list of potential keystone habits that promote father involvement, narrow that list down by focusing on habits that fathers can do easily and frequently before tackling habits that are harder to accomplish and that, even if easy to accomplish, they can’t do as frequently.
  • Why is this focus so important? Because it creates small wins that fathers experience often/repeatedly. While they might seem minor in the broad scheme of things, they build a foundation of confidence, especially in fathers who haven’t been successful at being involved.

Step 5: Reinforce/praise the small wins.

  • When fathers achieve small wins, praise fathers. This praise will help keystone habits snowball into the other habits of involvement the habits will affect. In other words, praise helps tip the keystone habits—the first dominoes—into the other habits. Watch them fall one by one!

Depending on your situation and how much time you have to work with fathers, it might not be possible to focus on keystone habits that both encourage and discourage father involvement at the same time. At the very least, address keystone habits that encourage father involvement. 

Application Tools

For users of NFI’s 24/7 Dad® A.M and P.M programs, the My 24/7 Dad® Checklist new to the 3rd Editions is an ideal tool for fathers to use to apply keystone habits. In fact, these should be the most important checklist items. 

In addition, NFI’s 24/7 Dad® To Go Android application (app) is an ideal tool that allows fathers to create to-do lists, and would be a great place for fathers to integrate keystone habits (download the app for free from the Google Play Store.) Having a checklist provides fathers with clear direction around what they should do on a regular basis to be involved. They can modify and add to their items (habits) as they become more involved, and want to tackle more challenging (but important) habits of an involved, responsible, committed father. 

Regardless of how you apply keystone habits, approach your effort as an experiment. Keep track of what works with fathers in general and with specific kinds of fathers (e.g. custodial and non-custodial) so that you can apply what works in future work with fathers one-on-one or in groups, and avoid what doesn’t work.


As you consider using keystone habits to improve retention and fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children, review the following resources:

Don’t forget to look for more posts and reference guides in this series!

1) Research to Application > Cues, Triggers, and Nudges

2) Research to Application > Framing and the "No Choice Option"

3) Research to Application > Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

4) Research to Application > The Power of The "Deviant Dad"

Click here for the full PDF of the this post. 

1) Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York, NY: Random House.

About the "Research to Application" Series

As the nation’s #1 provider of fatherhood skill-building programs and resources, NFI provides guidance for practitioners and organizations on how they might be able to use to use the latest research on human behavior to enhance the effectiveness of their work with fathers. NFI provides this guidance in a series of blog posts called Research to Application: Guidance for Practitioners and Programs.

The series offers a platform for generating dialogue among NFI, organizations, and practitioners on ways that research can be applied to addressing pain points in serving fathers. This post is the fifth one in the series. It provides ideas on how you might integrate research on keystone habits. Integrating this research could make it easier for you to help fathers to identify the most significant barriers that keep them from being as involved in their children’s lives as they’d like to be. It could also help fathers develop the habits of good fathering above and beyond reliance on the resources (e.g. programs/curricula) you might currently use.

If you implement any of the ideas in this post, or develop and implement your own ideas, please share them with us at We’ll use your experiences to update this guide so it is even more useful.

The Father Factor Blog > Where Fatherhood Leaders Go To Learn.

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