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The Father Factor

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When “Inclusion” Results in a Total Lack of Fairness for Dads

Words like empowerment and inclusion get thrown around a lot today. But do we really know what they mean? Do these principles in fact have any intrinsic value, or are they just the flavors of the week?

The problem with attributing value to ambiguous concepts like “empowerment” (which Daniel Pink defines as “a slightly more civilized form of control”) is that when you run into conflicts, there is no real standard by which to resolve those conflicts. This post-modern dilemma is playing itself out in a big, public way over at Time Warner, where CNN (a Time Warner company) journalist Joshua Levs has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge against his employer. 

Joshua and his wife just welcomed their third child into the world, and when he went to his employer seeking the 10 weeks of paid leave that new parents get, he found out that all new parents except biological fathers are entitled to this time off. You read that right – every kind of new parent working for Time Warner is entitled to 10 weeks of paid leave, except biological fathers. Adoptive mothers and fathers, biological mothers, and all mothers and fathers whose children were born through surrogacy; they all get 10 weeks of paid leave. But if you are in Joshua’s shoes, where his own wife gave birth to his own child, he only gets two weeks.

Time Warner, in its efforts to be “inclusive,” and to “empower” new parents with a policy of “equality” has created a situation that exposes a much more serious problem – it is completely unfair. Moreover, in Joshua’s view, given his EEOC charge, it is discriminatory.

While we at NFI do not know all of the legal details about the EEOC charge, we can say that we agree with Joshua Levs. His company is clearly treating him unfairly. And from a broader “fatherhood perspective,” Time Warner’s actions are symptomatic of much a deeper cultural issue that has been plaguing our culture for decades, the devaluing of fatherhood and marriage.

It seems every group has a movement or a program behind it, except married, biological fathers. Guys like me, who have sacrificed much to get and stay married to the mothers of our children, seem to be the ones who get the least support in the public square. We are the “suckers” who seemingly made the mistake of setting aside our own interests by going home every night to our wife and children so that we can be there for them for life.

We hear it all the time at NFI, but one of the most common refrains I hear is that “you don’t have to be married to your children’s mother to be a good dad!” Well, sure; most of our community-based programs help unmarried fathers connect to their kids. But the reason every civilization across all of world history has created the institution of marriage is because it enables men to be the best dads they can be. Since when are we so comfortable with settling for second best when it comes to our children? Have we lowered our standards that much?

As for Mr. Levs’ situation, one can’t help but be befuddled by the hubris of Time Warner to create and then enforce such a policy. In Mr. Levs’ own words, in his public statement about the situation, he said, “The company gave no explanation in rejecting my request last week, saying only that it was ‘unable’ to grant it. That’s obviously false. Time Warner is able to, but chose not to. The moment it did that, this issue stopped being a possible oversight that the company could have resolved quietly. It became an active, deliberate decision to discriminate.”

I am at a loss to figure out why Time Warner would do this, other than to go back to our mass cultural confusion, where we value too many other things more highly than the importance of father involvement.

But that only explains part of it. Other fathers at Time Warner are not getting the same lousy treatment as Joshua. So, could something more sinister be at work here?

For one thing, Time Warner’s policy is not actually about child well being. In Joshua’s statement, he mentions that certain forms of discrimination are legal because they are directed at groups that are not “protected classes.” Apparently, children are not a protected class, because if improving child well being was the purpose of Time Warner’s policies, they would extend the most generous policies, or at least the same ones, to the types of parents who are most likely to have children -- biological parents. Despite “advances,” the vast majority of children are still brought into the world as a result of a man and woman having sex with each other. So, Time Warner’s “inclusive” policy only touches a small minority of new parents.

Furthermore, as I mentioned above, our culture has gone out of its way to devalue married fatherhood for decades. Time Warner’s actions sound like yet another attempt to move our culture away from tradition and towards some new way of doing things. I am not sure what that “new way” is, but decades of social science research indicate that it is probably a bad idea, because children living with their two, married, biological parents do better across every measure of child well being than children in any other family structure. Shouldn’t that, therefore, be the structure that we encourage and promote? Wouldn’t that be fair to our nation’s children?

But there is the problem! It is not fairness we actually care about. We care more about ethereal concepts like “inclusion” and “empowerment,” which change with our culture’s whims. It is not even child well being we really care about; it is making sure “protected classes” are kept happy.

We at NFI hope Joshua Levs, and all of the biological fathers at Time Warner, get what is coming to them, which is simply what every other type of parent gets. And, furthermore, we are hopeful that Joshua’s actions resonate throughout our culture so that fathers all over the country get the same truly fair treatment they deserve, and more importantly, that their children deserve.

The good news is that much of the response to Mr. Levs’ charge has been positive. You can help the cause simply by making supportive comments right here on this blog, on NFI’s Facebook page, or by visiting Mr. Levs’ Facebook or Twitter page and voicing your support for him.

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.

Are you a New Dad? Tell Us Your Thoughts Today!

We're excited to partner with the fine folks over at What To Expect, the experts on all things mom and pregnancy. We are conducting a survey about pregnancy and baby's first year. We've heard from the moms, now we want to hear from the dads!

WTENFISurveyIf you're a new dad or dad-to-be, please take a moment to respond to a few questions. All of the opinions will be revealed soon in brand new infographic in partnership with the wonderful folks over at What to Expect. Don't worry, dads, we won't use names or faces for with your honest answers!

Questions on the survey range from number of children to asking about thoughts to questions like—well—we can't say too much or we'll mess up the survey. Just go take it, please! 

The PURPLE Crying Game [Infographic]

Now that I am going to become a new dad for the second time, I have been reflecting a little bit more on what it means to be a good dad. I have this feeling that when you have more than one child, then you are really a dad… As if just having one doesn't count yet.  

cryingbaby

So, I have been readin’ up on some new dad skills that I will have to re-employ come April (it’s been 3 years since my first son was an infant!), and I found some very helpful guidelines about crying. No, not my crying, the baby’s crying. Hey, that gives me an idea – I should write a guide about how to stop parents from crying during the toddler years.  

Anyway, have you ever heard of PURPLE crying? I hadn’t until I cracked open, once again, one of NFI’s Doctor Dad® fathering handbooks. PURPLE is a nice acronym to help you understand the types and times of non-stop crying in infants – the kind that is most frustrating and difficult for parents to deal with.  

P – Peak pattern (crying peaks at around 2 months, then lessens)

U – Unpredictable (crying for long periods can come and go for no reason)

R – Resistant to soothing (the baby may keep crying for long periods)

P – Pain-like look on face

L – Long bouts of crying (crying can go on for hours)

E – Evening crying (baby cries more in the afternoon and evening)*  

Then, of course, there is just routine crying, like when baby is hungry.  

So, how to respond to all these kinds of crying!? First and foremost, babies cry because they need something. Sounds simple, but in the heat of the moment, it is easy to think your baby is crying for no reason, or worse, just to personally annoy you! But once you accept that there is an actual reason for the crying, you can proceed productively.  

Enter the “Crying Baby Flowchart”!

This incredibly helpful diagram takes you through a step-by-step process to determine why your baby is crying and how you can help stop the crying. It comes complete with illustrations and clear instructions to make your new dad life much easier.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that you should never shake a baby for any reason. If things are getting way too frustrating, and no one else is around to come in for relief, make sure your baby is safe and then just walk away. Go in the next room. Sit down. Have a cold drink. Your baby is not going anywhere. When your blood pressure has come down a bit, head back in and give things another shot.  

So, do you have any great ideas on how to stop a baby from crying? What worked best for you?

*Learn more about the PURPLE crying program from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

Hoping for “Style Points” With Baby #2

My wife and I are expecting our second child in April! Woo hoo! But…  

stork

Yes, there is a “but.” For some reason, I am more nervous about child #2 than I was about the first, who is almost 4 years old. Maybe it was the sheer excitement and novelty of a first child that overshadowed any fears or anxiety I may have had. I knew everyone would be stepping in to help. But now that my wife and I are “old hands” at this parenting thing, we won’t need any help with the second child, right?

Part of my anxiety about the coming baby could also stem from the fact that our first son, God bless him, was a VERY difficult baby. He cried all the time. He always had ear infections. He didn’t poop regularly. The list goes on.  

We love our son to death. He is a wonderful, funny, beautiful child. But he was a pain in the neck. And he still is VERY emotional.  

So, as April approaches, I am selfishly hoping for an “easy” baby. I know this wish will come back to haunt me. I am going to have the most difficult child ever. Therefore, it is best that I am prepared, and I understand baby “styles.”  

So, I cracked open a copy of NFI’s Doctor Dad™ Well Child Father’s Handbook, and turned to the page on “Temperament (Style).”  

Here is what I learned.  

It is important to know your baby’s temperament, because it is often a blueprint for what their personality will be for their whole life. I have seen this with our first son – he is very much the same child he was from day 1, just a more mature version.  

Knowing your child’s style will help you temper your expectations and avoid getting frustrated by their behavior. If you know you have a difficult child, when they act difficult it is a little easier to swallow. If you have an easy-going child and he is acting up, it could be an indication that he is getting sick, for example.  

So, here are the three main “styles” of babies:  

The Easy Child

  • This child can easily handle change, in both people and places.
  • This child is biological regular. He eats, pees, and poops on a regular schedule and without much fuss.
  • This child’s intensity level is mostly moderate. She doesn't need much to entertain or comfort her.

The Difficult Child

  • This child is the reverse of the easy baby. This child is “strong willed.”
  • This child finds change difficult and is biologically irregular. She eat, drinks, sleeps, pees, and poops whenever she does or doesn’t want to.
The “Slow to Warm Up” Child
  • This child is shy and is slow to warm up and adapt to change.
  • This child usually cries when faced with change, but the intensity is low and you can calm this child.  

My first son was indeed the difficult baby. Can the stork please deliver an easy one in April?  

What style was your baby? Do you have any advice on handling difficult babies? Please share!


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

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

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

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


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


Chevy Trucks > "Strong"

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

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


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

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

 

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

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