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The Father Factor

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LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow: On Dads’ Reading to Their Kids

This post is from LeVar Burton. LeVar is the Actor/Producer who Co-Founded Reading Rainbow Kidz. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

As a father of two, I know from personal experience how difficult it is for working dads to find time to spend with their kids. Time really seems to be the scare “currency” of the 21st century. So when we do spend time with our children, spending it wisely is imperative. It probably comes as no surprise to you that for me, reading is one of the best ways I know to make great quality out of scarce quantity.

levar burton reading rainbow kidzReading to our young children provides two critical components to their lives: the closeness that comes from sharing stories together; imagining, pretending and learning that few other activities provide. It also gives them proven educational advantages they will gain from for the rest of their lives. Study after study demonstrates a clear correlation between kids whose parents read to them consistently before kindergarten and greater scholastic achievement.

So back to Dads. Any parent can (and should!) read to their kids, but why are Dads so important? Kids are remarkably aware of the world around them, much more so than we give them credit for. They role model after both parents and they have a keen eye for where priorities are in their family. Moms in our society tend to be the caregivers (even when they are also the breadwinners)…the “go to” for so much of the personal, intimate attention kids need.

Dads tend to be less about closeness and more about “play.” Reading is by nature a very close and personal way of communicating. At bedtime or on the couch (instead of TV), Dads curled up with a young one reading offers a great chance for men to be close to their kids; connected through books to the greater world around them. 

Taking this time “just for them” also offers a more subtle message about their priority in a father’s life. They know we dads are busy and often tired when we come home. Kids hear and see it. When a Dad takes the time away from other activities, when we make that special effort to read with just them, we teach them quietly how very important they really are to us. They see that we use precious time, that scarce currency, not for football or returning phone calls or the internet, but for them.

So Dads, pick up a book or a tablet tonight and read with your kids. Read to them in silly voices, make up new endings to familiar stories and look into their eyes afterwards and see just how much return you get on the investment of 15 minutes of our scarce but immeasurably valuable time.

Reading Rainbow’s mission is to inspire a love of reading in children and connect them to the world they live in through quality literature so they believe that they, “can go anywhere, be anything.”

Try the app for FREE on your iPad (at the iTunes App Store) or Kindle (at the Amazon App Store), download any of our Classic Reading Rainbow episodes on iTunes or learn more about Reading Rainbow and all our digital products at www.readingrainbow.com.

Fathering from a "Frozen" Perspective

Disney has done it again. I'm not sure if it's the music (yeah, I admit, I want the soundtrack; you know, for my daughters!), the setting in Norway (I want to go to there), or the story of two sisters (I'm the dad of two daughters), but Disney's newest epic adventure Frozen tugs on my heart-strings. While watching the film, I sat "cold" in my seat, partially because Disney pulls you into another world with it's 3D version of Arendelle, but mostly because I saw my daughters in Elsa and Anna. Here's what I mean...

Disney Frozen

At NFI, we often point out that a father's role is unique and irreplacable in a child's life. As a dad of two young daughters, I was reminded of one thing while screening Frozen. That is, what I teach my daughter's matters. My actions, my words...they matter. More to the point, what I teach my daughter's now, right or wrong, echos into the future. 

Before watching Frozen, I don't recall asking myself: what will my daughters remember about me if something happen to me? Whether it's from an accident or life-stage (college or the like) this is a stirring thought worth considering as a father.

As I pulled my sugar-crazed youngest daughter out of the theater, I was thinking: the things I say to her matters. What I say, and do, these are the things my girls will remember about me when I'm not in their presence. 

My point is, I don't always parent with the end in mind. This changes the intentionality of how I do things. It changes my actions now.

If I understand that what I do today matters, I will do things differently, better, more kindly, more lovingly. Parenting with this new and bigger picture in mind will cause me, will cause us as dads, to see what is really important.

All of a sudden, for me, it's not a big deal to jump down to the floor and do piggy-back rides.

Perhaps your child is older, guess what? Then, homework becomes "time together" instead of a chore to pass off to mom.

For the dad of a college student, weekends are no longer "too busy." No, weekends are now left open and available to make a last-minute roadtrip for connecting with your son or daughter. You probably get my "drift" by now, pun intended.

As you take your son or daughter to watch this movie, and you should...once you get seated with your popcorn, watch carefully as a dad, and be reminded, like I was, that the "Frozen" girl (Elsa) spends years with her father's protective voice telling her what not to do such that she keeps her gift hidden from the world.

In her father's mind, he was "protecting" her and her younger sister (Anna) from harm. However, what he was really doing, while noble in his intentions, wasn't noble. May we not live to "protect" our sons and daughters so much that we make them miss using the unique gifts they possess.

How are you "helping" your child find his or her gifts? Share in the comment section. 

 

About Frozen:
Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind “Tangled” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” presents “Frozen,” a stunning big-screen comedy adventure. Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. 

FROZEN (In 3D)
Website: Disney.com/Frozen
Facebook: facebook.com/DisneyFrozen
Twitter: Twitter.com/DisneyAnimation

Genre: Animated Comedy/Adventure
Rating: PG
U.S. Release Date: Today, November 27, 2013 
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds
Directors: Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up), Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph)
Producer: Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog)

No, I'm Not the BabySitter, I'm the Dad.

The following is a post from Jim Mckenzie. Jim is a passionate dad of seven (7) young home-birthed children. He is publisher of Every Little Thing Birth and Beyond 360 Magazine and blogs at The Fatherhood Biz. Get details on the Every Thing For Dads Convention and follow Jim on Twitter. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

I was speaking to my buddy Hank Baskett (NFL, Kendra On Top) the other day, who told me that when he’s out and about in public with his son without his wife Kendra, he constantly asked by strangers if he is "babysitting" his son, and he always replies “No, I'm taking care of my child…babysitting is something that one is paid to do for other people’s children!” Well said Hank, I say!

every thing for dads convention florida

Why I Need Your Help—And Why You Should Care…

Most dads with whom I speak have experienced this condescension; this attitude has no place in 21st Century parenting, which I advocate (as those of you who read my free online magazine Every Little Thing Birth and Beyond 360 already know) is best served by the full inclusion and involvement of both parents in the parenting process. The involvement and recognition of the role of dads in parenting benefits entire families, and, therefore society as a whole.

The statistics that there are 24 million dads who have no contact with their children, and that in some sections of society as many as 80% of children are growing up without a dad, are frightening; this scenario needs to be changed, for the sake of a generation of our children.

So I want to change that, now! Here's how I'm doing it...

The Every Thing For Dads Convention in March 15 2014 in Sarasota, Florida

This is my call to action to all of the committed parents who support the mutual aims of my Every Thing For Dads Convention 2014, and my friends at National Fatherhood Initiative to come and join us on March 15 2014 in Sarasota Florida. This is a one day celebration of a new beginning for modern dads, where you’ll be educated and entertained!

First off, have a look at the video, and learn a little about why I’m spending all my waking hours to fulfill this dream! Join me and show that you too have the heart and with passion for the cause of better parenting!   

AME Media Group is staging the first national Dads Convention on behalf of the Every Thing For Dads Foundation 501c www.everythingfordads.com in March 2014, hosted by NFL and TV Reality Star Hank Baskett, with VIP Guest NFL Superstar Plaxico Buress (and his wonderful wife Tiffany Glenn Buress), and Reginald Roundtree, Senior News Anchor from Tampa Bay 10 News.  

So we have very cool dads who are celebrities, expert presenters, speakers and every day dads like you and me and it’ll be great time to bring your family and visit beautiful sunny Sarasota, SW Florida, which also has the #1 rated white sandy beach in the country! 

I am also making a unique documentary film project and series about fatherhood, so you are also invited to come and be filmed to express your views and give your best tips, if you’re not camera shy!  

What Does the Convention Include?

  • Conference admission 
  • VIP Celebrity breakfast meet and greet, Lunch, Dinner with VIP Celebrity Guests
  • Attendance to the 2014 Mega Dads Awards
  • Networking party with VIP Celebrity Guests
  • Fatherhood Panel Q and A with live Twitter interaction 
  • Access to all presentations, workshops and key note speeches
  • Admission to the Dads Chill Zone™ Evening entertainment
  • Giveaways, prizes and surprises
  • …and if you can’t get there, or afford to get there (tickets are at as low cost as I can make it, and you can get a discounted ticket for 2 or more people for $129 each until Christmas, and spaces are limited), I’ve not forgotten you either! The event will be on a Live stream that you can view from the comfort of your own home and Twitter feed.  

Call Me, Maybe…

There is still time for you to nominate any great dads, from any walk of life who you think deserves recognition for a MEGA DAD award—make your nomination here. You might want a particular subject included at the event, in which case send me your ideas; or I’d love you to tell me who you would like to see speak at this event, and I’ll do my level best to get them to come! Life is about pursuance of dreams, and big dreams can come true – the proof is the very existence of this convention, which was merely the seed of an idea at the beginning of 2013! Email me at jimmckenzie@everythingfordads.com.

Well people, the lack of fatherhood skills and involvement of dads in this generation of children’s lives (coined “The Father Factor” by National Fatherhood Initiative) is, in my personal view, one of the most enormous problems that society faces right now—but it is one that is capable of one of the quickest remedies, if the problem is recognized, faced down and truly practical advice and solutions applied.

So let’s make the changes happen - come and join us…

I’m a person who finds his motivation from taking action rather than quotes, but this one resonates with me as both a reflection of my short journey putting this celebration together: 

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” —Calvin Coolidge

Press on with me, people!  

Pork: Your Secret Ingredient for the Perfect Thanksgiving

National Fatherhood Initiative and National Pork Board partnered for this guest post. Fatherhood and Pork? It just make sense. Find more tasty recipes at www.PorkBeInspired.comInterested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Thanksgiving is a day we look forward to all year; one we embrace for the opportunity to feast on good food and enjoy quality time with friends and family. However, as delicious and heartwarming as it can be, Thanksgiving can also become time-consuming and stressful if you’re the one hosting the meal.  

Luckily (whether you’re feeding 5 or 15), pork can be your Thanksgiving Day dinner hero. The simple recipe ideas below minimize prep time—leaving you with more time to spend with the people you love—and will help keep your countertops free of dozens of ingredients and clutter.

Have a happy and stress-free Thanksgiving with pork!  

Appetizer

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Bruschetta

bacon lettuce tomato brushetta hr

 

Side Dish

Cornbread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Corn Bread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing HR 

Main Dish

Root Beer Glaze Ham

root beer glaze hr   

Dessert

Chocolaty Hazelnut and Bacon Crescents via Pillsbury

bacon and chocolate hazelnut crossaints

Be an Awesome Dad. But If All Else Fails, Just Dance.

The Huffington Post writer Todd Van Luling did something awesome. He compiled a list of 19 Lessons Great Dads Can Teach You About Being a Better Father.

19 lessons great dads can teach you about being a better father

In his article, Van Luling reminds us dads just how simple "being great" can be.

Here are a few of our favorites from the 19 great lessons (in no particular order):

  • Be willing to sacrifice your old-school cool...and sometimes your ears.
  • Be the guy who shows them the world.
  • Use your talent to give your kid something they'll remember forever.
  • Understand you won't have all the answers, and be willing to laugh about it.
  • Be willing to take your kids along for the ride....
  • ...Because the ride doesn't last forever.

We admit a certain bias toward this article (see image #7 re "teaching them how to 'shave their beards'") we still recommend you take a gander and breathe in that fresh reminder from Van Luling: "Be the most awesome dad in the world, but if all else fails, just dance." 

Join Us for #EngagingDads Twitter Chat: Today at 3pm EST.

Please join us for the #EngagingDads Twitter Chat to discuss best practices in fatherhood, and what youth-serving programs and professionals can do to engage fathers in the lives of adolescents!

The #EngagingDads chat will take place today at 3pm EST!

Who: The chat is co-hosted by the following:

—The Office of Adolescent Health (@TeenHealthGov), 

—The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (@FatherhoodGov) and

—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (@CDCGov).  

Special Guests: National Fatherhood Initiative (@TheFatherFactor)

What: #EngagingDads Chat

When: Today, Wednesday, November 20th at 3pm EST.

Why: Participants will chat about important subjects when it comes to fatherhood, including why fathers are important in the lives of adolescents, best practices and tips for fathering teens, and what programs can do to engage all fathers – both those already involved in their adolescent’s life, and those who may not be. The chat is an excellent opportunity for those who work with and care about adolescents to connect with each other and learn more about dads!

Tweet with #EngagingDads to be part of the conversation, learn more, and tweet your fatherhood questions today to @TeenHealthGov!

Dinner Advice for the Hectic Holidays

This post is from Cheryl Tallman, co-founder of Fresh Baby. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.            

man cooking turkey thanksgiving holiday post

Homemade foods have always been healthier than processed, prepared, or restaurant meals which are generally much higher in fat, salt and calories than home-cooked foods. Eating too much of these unhealthy foods can pack on the Holiday pounds and slow your kids down at school.

But let’s face it, the days leading up to the holidays are hectic.

Getting a home-cooked dinner on the table during the holidays may seem to be an impossible feat, but here are few tips to ease the burden of getting dinner on the table during the hectic holiday season:

1) Get friends involved. The holidays are a great time to entertain with friends. Make dinner at home a reason to get together. Team up with a friend and have a family dinner at their house one night and switch to your house on another. Divide the menu between families and have each family bring a dish. [Like this idea? Share it on twitter by clicking HERE!]

2) Get the kids in the kitchen. The Holidays are a great time to make family memories. Get closer to your kids. Invite them into the kitchen and teach them a few things about cooking. It’s a life skill that they will certainly thank you for some day. Some of the meals you make together can become family traditions for Holidays to come!

3) Get a slow cooker. This is a fabulous machine for busy families on-the-go. A slow cooker allows you to make simple, one-dish meals in a snap. Simply prep the ingredients in the morning, turn the slow cooker on and come home to a delicious ready-to- eat dinner.

4) Stop and freeze. Make foods in advance and freeze them in family sizes and individual servings too. Have some fun and cook with a friend, double each other’s recipes, and split up the meals for both families.

5) Get pre-washed when possible. The clean and prep is often the most time consuming part of cooking. Buy pre-washed veggies in the produce section of stores. The “open and steam” convenience of these pre-washed products is great.

6) Get “no cook” sides. Apples, pears, avocadoes, tomatoes are just few foods that don’t need to be cooked and taste great all by themselves. A fruit or veggie plate makes a terrific side dish.

7) Plan for leftovers. Don’t spend all your time in the kitchen cooking just one big feast. Make enough food to make several “leftover meals”.

Get more tips for the holidays at our For Fathers section. Happy cooking…and Happy Holidays!


Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning "So Easy Baby Food Kit," and author of the "So Easy Baby Food" and the new book "So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years." Visit Cheryl at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @FreshBabyBiz.
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NFI Partners with U.S. Army to Place Fatherhood Resources on Installations Worldwide

NFI Fatherhood Skill-building Materials Being Distributed to New Parent Support Programs on 69 Army Installations

Germantown, MD (PRWEB) November 12, 2013

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has contracted with the U.S. Army to place its fatherhood resources on installations worldwide to support the Army’s New Parent Support Programs.

militarydad and daughter reunitedOver 117,000 fatherhood skill-building resources – including guides, brochures, tip cards, CD-ROMs, and more – are being distributed to 69 installations around the globe. This is the second “refill” of NFI resources that the Army has ordered; the initial set of materials was delivered by NFI in the fall of 2011, and the first refill was completed in the fall of 2012.

Working with the Army’s Installation Management Command (IMCOM), NFI continues to support the Army’s efforts to strengthen fatherhood and increase family resilience among Army families. Specifically, NFI’s programming is supporting the New Parent Support Program in its efforts to “help Soldiers and Family members who are expecting a child, or have a child or children up to 3 years of age, to build strong, healthy military families.” NFI’s programming is integrated into parenting classes and home visiting programs, and NFI fatherhood resource kiosks are displayed around the bases for easy access to the materials.

Examples of NFI materials the Army is making available for fathers and families is general parenting information contained in resources such as Dad’s Pocket Guide™, New Dad’s Pocket Guide™, Pocketbook for Moms™, and Pocketbook for New Moms™.

NFI is also providing the Army with military-specific materials such as the Deployed Fathers and Families Guide™, which helps military dads prepare for, endure, and return successfully from deployment.

nfi logo

At a time when thousands of military fathers are returning from long overseas deployments, it is critical that our nation’s military fathers receive the education and inspiration they need to embrace their roles as fathers and to build their relationship and parenting skills.

Tim Red, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, father, and NFI’s Senior Program Support Consultant for the Military, said, “Building the skills and confidence of our nation’s military dads is a key ingredient in building resilience in military families. NFI is proud to support the Army’s critical efforts to strengthen military families.”

Since launching its Deployed Fathers and Families program in 2001, National Fatherhood Initiative has become the nation’s leading provider of fatherhood-specific resources to the U.S. Military. NFI has delivered over 760,000 resources to all five branches of the military on bases all over the world, and has been listed on Military OneSource, the Department of Defense’s support service for military families.

As the premier fatherhood renewal organization in the country, National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), founded in 1994, works in every sector and at every level of society to engage fathers in the lives of their children. NFI is the #1 provider of fatherhood resources in the nation. Since 2004, through FatherSOURCE, its national resource center, NFI has distributed over 6.5 million resources, and has trained over 13,300 practitioners from over 6,100 organizations on how to deliver programming to dads. NFI is also the most quoted authority on fatherhood in America. Since 2009, NFI has been mentioned in over 3,400 news stories, and makes regular appearances in national media to discuss the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.

Moms Should “Lean In” …to Fatherhood

business woman 320 resized 600The mommy wars continue. Should today’s women dedicate themselves more to their careers so they can “catch up” to men – to “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg suggests – or should they dedicate themselves more to motherhood because their kids need them?  

How about a third way?  

I propose that if moms want to do better at both parenting and work, they have to “lean in” to fatherhood.  

Yes, moms should do as much as they can to support the involvement of their children’s fathers in their children’s lives, because it will help them thrive at both home and in their careers.  

How?  

Research shows that two of the most powerful predictors of father involvement are mom’s perception of dad’s competence and the quality of their relationship with each other. In other words, moms can act as gatekeepers or gateways; they are largely responsible for either facilitating father involvement or holding it back.   

When fatherhood is “held back” – when fathers are unable or unwilling to embrace the fullness of their roles – moms become disproportionately responsible for what is happening at home. And, logically, if mom is responsible for a disproportionate share of the tasks at home, it is going to be harder for her to dedicate herself at work as much as she may need to.  

My own situation paints a picture. My wife and I both work full time, and my wife is fully supportive of my role as a dad. She lets me do things my way. I typically leave for work later than her and get home earlier than her, so I usually take our son to daycare and pick him up at the end of the day, I usually give him breakfast in the morning, and I usually cook dinner at night. He has Type 1 Diabetes, so I have to do what is needed to care for that complicated disease.   

Because my wife trusts me to do these things with a level of competence, she is thriving in her career. When the daycare calls and there is an issue with our son, I usually take care of it, not because my wife is a bad mother, but because she is an hour away, and I am 5 minutes away. In other words, my wife rarely has to take off from work or leave work early to care for our son during the workday.   

As an auditor who has to travel around the region quite a bit, if she was forced by circumstance (my absence) or choice (a belief that she parents better than me) to be the go-to parent for our son’s needs, her career would suffer. Neither her boss nor her clients would be able to count on her to be where she needs to be, when she needs to be there.  

Furthermore, when she comes home from work, she doesn’t have to do all the housework and childcare by herself. We work together; she lets me contribute even though I do things differently. Thus, she is able to focus not just on “housekeeping,” but on being a mommy.  

You may be thinking that moms obviously want help from dads. I think you are right, but it is part of human nature that we don’t always behave in a way that will get us what we really want. For example, mom wants dad to help at bath time, but vehemently criticizes him for using too much soap, so he is now reluctant to ever help at bath time again (this is a true story).  

So, the key then is to help moms align their desires (more help from dad so she can thrive at home and work) with their behaviors (acting as gateways to father involvement rather than gatekeepers) so that moms, dads, and most importantly, kids, are getting what they need.  

understanding dadWell, NFI has “an app” for that. We just launched a new line of products and services designed to help mothers support father involvement.  

Based on feedback from hundreds of organizations around the country using NFI’s signature fatherhood programs, the new materials will help mothers successfully navigate their relationships with the fathers of their children. Specifically, it will give moms the knowledge and skills they need to effectively communicate with the fathers of their children and to understand the critical role fathers play in children’s lives. Understanding Dad™: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms is the flagship curriculum anchoring this new initiative.  

This is just another way that NFI is responding to what is happening in our culture with practical, timely solutions that move people from inspiration (something needs to be done!) to implementation (here is an actual program that we can start using today!).

Question: What do you think is the most difficult thing about parenting? 

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

photo credit: Victor1558

Help Us Give a Second Chance to Dads Like Marvin

describe the image

National Fatherhood Initiative is nearing the close of our fiscal year at the end of September.  We have a lot of exciting things planned for FY-2013 and we’re looking forward to bringing you more expert advice for dads, fatherhood perspectives on events in pop culture and the news, and practical resources to help you in your fathering journey.

But we can’t do this without your support.  We need to raise an additional $20,000 by the end of the month to enable us to activate the plans we have to change the lives of more dads and families next year. 

describe the imageMarvin Charles of Seattle, Washington, (pictured here with his wife, son, and father) is one of the dads whose life has been touched by National Fatherhood Initiative’s work.  His example as a role model and his commitment to helping others is impacting dads in his community who need a second chance.

Marvin’s story was captured by Lewis Kostiner, a photographer who traveled around the country at his own expense to meet dads who participated in NFI’s fathering programs through their local communities.  Mr. Kostiner’s photographs and the stories of these families are collected in an inspiring book, Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance.

Mr. Kostiner describes the role that Marvin plays in the lives of other dads and his own son:

Marvin Charles [...] spent most of his time keeping tabs on all the fathers and children in the National Fatherhood Initiative program whom he helped in his district. He picked them up and dropped them off and told them how to do this and how to do that. He never looked down on any of them, and his presence helped organize and prepare the children for their everyday journeys and, for the men, fatherhood. His clients struggled daily to survive, and he knew it. He did what he could to help them along. […] Marvin was a real community organizer, in the true sense. He was […] [there] to help kids and their dads. In his son's eyes, Marvin could easily have been elected Mayor of Seattle. Marvin carried his family's picture around with him all day long on his T-shirt, right in front of his heart.

Marvin and the dads he helps represent real-life families whose lives have been changed through NFI's work.  These "second chances" are possible because of the support of people just like you.  

Donate now and get a free book!Will you help us give a second chance to more families in the next year? 

Donate $100 or more today and we will send you a FREE copy of Choosing Fatherhood: America's Second Chance.

If you can't donate $100 or more, any amount will make a difference in helping us reach our goal for the fiscal year and start next year on the right foot!  Thanks for your support!

Donate Now

Dad’s Guide to Back-To-School Gadgets

Thank God kindergarteners don't need laptops. With my firstborn attending kindergarten soon, clothes and supplies are enough expense. You have no doubt seen the legendary lists of supplies from your child’s school by now. NFI may not be helpful as it pertains to fashion (considering our president has written extensively, and sadly in favor of, the fanny pack!). But as it pertains to tech and gadgets, we can offer our "expert" opinion. 

pencils

Whether it is gadgets for your university student or middle-school scholar, we are here to help you save a few dollars and use the time to connect with your child. See our ideas below on what to look out for in purchasing the lastest mobile devices in three categories: 

Laptops

Dell UltrabookThe new Dell Inspiron Ultrabook (starts at $649) is one of the new "ultrabooks.” It's ultrathin, fast and is said to have a around seven hours of battery-life. Your child may want this laptop considering the offer of also getting an Xbox 360 with your purchase. Also, with your purchase, the machine comes with Windows 7 but Windows 8 can be purchased for $14.99 when you own Windows 7.

macbook airFor Mac families, there is the MacBook Air, starting at $999 for the 11-inch model (don’t forget: $949 with qualifying education discount). The new MacBooks come with OS X Mountain Lion, iLife, iWork and all the software your student will need. The 11-inch MacBook Air has an i5 processor, 4GB of memory and 64GB of flash storage (no hard drive) and at least five hours of non-stop, wifi-using battery life. This makes it one of the lightest laptops ever for carrying around in a backpack with other books all day. The MacBook Air also includes the popular FaceTime HD camera for HD 720p video calling. The Apple Store has Back to School deals that should not be missed. Deals include a $100 iTunes gift card with the purchase. And don't forget to ask about education pricing.

Tablets
Apple continues to have the market cornered with regard to tablet devices. But depending on your student, you may find Google's Nexus Tablet the right fit.

apple new ipadThe new Apple iPad is a powerful and very mobile option. Honestly, dads, the iPad may be a better and cheaper option instead of a laptop for many students. It is the best-selling tablet for many reasons. iPad prices start at $499 for the Wi-Fi-only version and 16GB of storage. Apple’s Back to School deals include a $50 iTunes gift card with new iPad purchase. Remember, education pricing can be used for iPads (same as laptops) because Apple considers this mobile device the same as a personal computer. 

google nexus

If it’s a smaller touchscreen you desire, there is the 7-inch Google Nexus Tablet (which starts at $199 for 8GB) for the student in your house. Consider this option when mobility is valued over storage. It is a great option as long as you have storage elsewhere.

Phones
With so many different phones on the market, students can be very mobile and pack very lightly. From taking notes in class, recording lectures or calling parents, phones can be a very useful tool. For some wondering what phone is best for their student, you may find this helpful:

iphone 4sApple's iPhone 4S (starting $199 for 16GB with contract) and comes with a great camera and tons of features like Retina display. The iPhone also has FaceTime so you can see how your child is doing when each of you are in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

HTCAndroid lovers also have plenty of good choices when it comes to phones. The HTC One V boasts a 3.7-inch screen, a powerful battery and great camera that rivals the iPhone.

When shopping for back-to-school deals, it is a good time to consider asking for an all-in-one printer when purchasing a computer. Most retail stores will consider adding a wireless all-in-one printer when at the time of purchasing a new computer.

Consider these options and for the student in your family when chosing laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. Dad, get involved in the process of shopping with your child this year. Shopping for the best deal and learning about the best device for your child can be a good time of connecting.

Discuss what is most important and useful in the devices with your child. Even though it is money from your pocket, try making it an enjoyable and teachable experience. Your child will remember these back-to-school shopping days. I haven't forgotten back-to-school shopping as a kid. Please, someone reading this, remind my future self of this post when my daughters ask for laptops. Happy shopping, dads!

What is one gadget the scholar in your family wants this year?

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Help Us Reach Dads and Help Kids Through Texting

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Did you know that 25% of Americans access the Internet through their smartphones instead of a computer?  That means millions of dads are not accessing National Fatherhood Initiative's web-based resources.
 
We want to deliver our expert fathering advice directly into dads’ hands through a brand new text messaging campaign, but it will cost $2,750 to create and maintain the new platform.

As a reader of this blog, you know how important it is that children have involved, responsible, and committed fathers.  You also know that our resources are making a difference across the nation by helping men learn how to connect with their kids heart-to-heart.
 
Texting LDD graphWe're looking for 110 people to donate just $25 each by August 12 to help us raise funds needed to create this new tool to reach more dads who currently don’t have access to our information.  Not only that, but if you are part of that 25% of who prefers to use your phone instead of the computer, your donation will go towards a resource that you can use too!  

Will you be one of the 110?  Donate $25 (or more!) today.

Fathers, President Obama & BBQ!

Our 2012 Military Fatherhood Award recipient had a big day yesterday!

First Lt. William Edwards enjoyed an extra-special lunch yesterday with President Obama (Photo: ObamaFoodorama).Edwards and Obama

Edwards was then honored at The White House where NFI's President Roland Warren presented Lt. Edwards with his 2012 Military Fatherhood Award. Warren presented the award to Edwards at The White House "Champions of Change" event.

warren and edwardsThe USA Today reports, Obama salutes Father's Day with military lunch to honor Father's Day and the military.

Obama lunched with two serviceman and a pair of local barbers involved in the administration's campaign to promote better fatherhood.

"These guys are also young fathers, and they're doing great," Obama said during the lunch at the BBQ smokehouse in northeast Washington.

Obama said: "It turns out that with the father being involved, the kids are less likely to do drugs ... girls are less likely to get pregnant. And so that message is something that we want to make sure gets out there."

Watch video of the lunch here:

President Obama does well to point out that involved fathers matter. Absent fathers change everything. From incarceration and crime to teen pregnancy and childhood obesity (See Statistics on Father Absence).

Edwards is an example of an involved father. Lt. William (Bill) Edwards of the U.S. Army is the 2012 Military Fatherhood Award Winner.

Edwards is based at Fort Jackson in South Carolina where he lives with his wife of 13 years, Esther, and their four children. Lt. Edwards uses his musical and cinematic talents to stay connected with his four children before, during, and afterhis deployments. He was deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division Band in 2007-2008 for 14 months in Iraq.

Click here for more information on NFI's Fatherhood Award.

Father’s Day Is For Fathers: Why WIRED ‘Gets It’ and Others Don’t

describe the imageSince WIRED’s June cover for National Geek Dad Day released, some folks have been buzzing about whether the tech magazine is singling out dads too much. NFI praises WIRED for celebrating dads and encouraging intentional time with their kids. The haters just don’t get it.

The current issue instructs dads on "How to be a Geek Dad," by building hovercrafts, making electric play-doh, building forts with broomsticks and string, and basically being the coolest, most amazing dads ever.

But some aren’t happy with Geek Dad Day. Specifically, Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel writes an article titled, “Wired Magazine Can’t Seem to Stop Alienating Women” and thinks the magazine shouldn’t single out and celebrate men, even on Father’s Day.

After Baker complains about the number of female contributors and lack of features written by women at WIRED, she asks, “shouldn't a magazine that markets itself as a general interest publication know better?” Sadly, Baker is fighting her battle on the wrong day in the wrong way.

Father absence is a real problem – it matters. Twenty-four million children in America -- one out of three – don’t have dads in the home. Father absence is linked to poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, and education. Whether a father is absent or present impacts society – for good or for ill.

The father factor in education is one such example. The National Center for Education Statistics says half of all children with involved fathers reported getting mostly A's through 12th grade, compared to 35.2% of children with absent fathers. Any effort encouraging dads to “Grab your safety glasses and your kids…” is worth applauding, especially around Father’s Day.

Do we not celebrate what we want more of, like birthdays and anniversaries? If we want more good dads, we should celebrate them. Father’s Day is not the day to debate gender issues, it’s a time to celebrate dads.

Given the dramatic need for more and better dads, we should celebrate any effort encouraging dads to be engaged with their kids; especially when we see plenty dumb, ineffective and disengaged dads every other day of the year in media. On the other hand, mothers are generally portrayed as competent parents. (Of note, we have not seen Baker address this clear inequality.)

Baker writes that WIRED’s idea of exploring science is great; she only wants it to be for all parents, not just dads. She asks two questions, “Why does it have to be marketed towards dads?” and “Why do publishers seem confused that "girls can geek out too?” Baker continues, “Adult women can geek out, too, which is why covers like these piss off some of the magazine's female fans.”

Baker criticizes WIRED for not engaging all parents; but do we not see fathers missing from media every day of the year? Plus, good fathers are a benefit to mothers. When we celebrate fathers we are helping mothers. Specifically, 93% of mothers agreed (67% strongly agreed) that there is a father absence crisis in this country (see Mama Says).

I disagree with Baker when she writes that the current issue of WIRED should “piss off” women. Of course we need more "geek women." But, getting fathers involved will actually create more geek women. Geek fathers have sons AND daughters. Geek fathers have a unique opportunity to mentor their daughters. Research shows girls with involved fathers score at significantly higher levels than those without fathers (See Father Facts).

The Geek Dad issue of WIRED encourages dads to grab safety glasses and their children, we applaud WIRED and encourage more companies to be creative with involving dads in the lives of their children.

We should celebrate and encourage geek men to be good geek fathers, because they will have geek daughters, who become geek women, who become geek mothers. 

Pass me the safety glasses. If being a Geek Dad is wrong, I don’t want to be right. 

Are Dads Really Clueless About Their Own Health?

I was doing some browsing on the Web when I came across a blog entry from Dr. David Katz, founder of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. The entry focused on the fact that men, especially fathers, need to turn a deeper focus on health and weight control. At NFI, we’ve made several references to the importance of health in men throughout our variety of resources and content. However, the doctor’s blog featured a few sentences that made me question just how thickheaded are men about getting healthy.

“We know that women are the guardians of the family health. We know that women, wives, mothers tend to do the heavy lifting when it comes to medical care, preventive services and diet,” said Dr. Katz in his blog, no doubt sharing a sentiment long shared by many. However, I grew up around men like my grandfathers and uncles who were always on top of their health. I’m particularly worrisome about my own health for a variety of reasons, some of which are hereditary.

Much like the meme going around that fathers are clueless when it comes to caring for their babies, a lot of archaic notions about men continue to be perpetuated. I became especially aware of my health needs after becoming a father. In fact, my peers who became dads all followed suit. How some of us arrived to that point was actually simple: taking care of children is taxing! I remember feeling like everything was hurting while running after my toddler, saying to my doctor that I needed to feel whole again.

I do get Dr. Katz’s overall point. As a father of five children and the editor-in-chief of the medical journal Childhood Obesity, he has an obligation to preach to the masses the importance of health. His blog was more so a call to fathers to set better examples for their children. I truly enjoyed his stance on saying that men who find working out and eating better to be feminine traits are acting “un-guy like” – slamming the notion that men can eat and do whatever they want without repercussions.

Dr. Katz is simply urging dads to eat better so their kids will too. The rapid rise in stroke risks in children between the ages of 5 and 14 attributed to obesity is unacceptable. The old adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” certainly applies in this case. Good health has to start somewhere, and fathers have a responsibility to lead by example.

I may not have been exposed to many men or fathers who were reluctant about staying healthy, but I do know we can all do better in providing a pathway to healthier living for our children by starting with ourselves.

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

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