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The Father Factor


With T1D Care, #DadsWay is Indispensable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just Be a Dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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25 Tips for Being a Great Dad

The following is a post from RPC Patrick Mondragon, US Navy, recipient of NFI's 2013 Military Fatherhood Award. Interested in blogging for us? Email here.

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  1. Try to eat dinner together as a family as often as possible. I always try to make sure that I’m home by dinner and we all eat together, almost always. There are occasions where I’ll have to work late, but we try not to make that a norm. And when we eat dinner, we turn off the television and spend good quality time talking about our days.
  2. Take at least one day off from work each month. Use this day to take and pick up your kids from school. You can also use the time while your kids are in school as a date-day for you and your wife. See a movie, have lunch together, go shopping, etc.
  3. Take at least one family vacation each year. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but more deliberate. Be faithful about this.
  4. Spend one-on-one time with your kids. Have a Father-Son day, or Father-Daughter day. Try to get each child one-on-one though. This allows you to learn more about your children, allows them to open up to you, and makes them feel special.
  5. Turn chores into family time. Let your kids help you wash your car, take them on errand trips to go pick up your dry cleaning or get groceries. Involve them in the process. 
  6. Get Outdoors. Do fun things outdoors. Take the family camping, go swimming, play sports or go for a bike ride.
  7. Make sure you deposit enough into the “family bank account.” I’m not talking about money, although that helps too. What I’m talking about is the emotional bank account. We all know that being in the military means deployments and time away from our families. This is what I call making a “withdrawal” because it takes away from the family. These withdrawals are often unavoidable and there is nothing we can do about them. We can, however, make plenty of deposits so that we don’t end up in the negative. By deposits, I mean spending quality time with the family, telling them you love them, leaving them sticky notes, taking your kids to school, spending quality time with your spouse. You never want to be in the negative, but rather the positive.
  8. Make time for your spouse. This is so important because if you and your spouse are not in sync and are not truly happy, your children will definitely notice. Don’t think you can keep it from them, they notice everything! They are so observant. It’s important to make investments for your spouse as well, and get quality time with your husband/wife. Have a mini vacation, attend a marriage enrichment retreat together, go away for the weekend and arrange for someone you know and trust to watch your children. This will pay dividends in your marriage and will keep the love alive.
  9. Give plenty of encouragement to your children. Assure them they are doing well, compliment them when they do something right, reward them when they deserve it. Make them feel special, appreciated and important. This also builds their sense of security and confidence.
  10. Laugh often. Tell funny jokes, tickle your kids, play fun games or sports. Don’t be so serious all the time. Of course, there is a time and place for everything, but by having a sense of humor and laughing often, you help your kids feel secure. This also helps them develop many things like sense of humor, gift of gab, public speaking and more.  
  11. Take your kids to work. Try this at least once. Let them visually see where you work and what you do. Give them a tour of your base, including your office. Introduce them to fellow employees. This helps your children understand what exactly it is that mommy or daddy does during the day.  
  12. Be involved. Know when your daughter has a report due, how they did at tennis practice, which of their friends made them upset or hurt their feelings that day, how they like their teacher, etc. Be active in their school.  
  13. Attend Important Events. Examples would be your kids Open House night, school field trip, back to school picnic, award ceremonies where they are recognized, first day of school, speech or spelling contest, school sport championships or big games. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea.  
  14. Read a bedtime story to your kids. Now I understand that there is a time limit for this, and you probably won’t be reading them bedtime stories after they are 11 or 12 years old. But when they are young this is so important. For one, it’s great bonding time. For two, it makes them feel special. Three, it’s a great way to end the evening and four, it develops their reading skills and can make them enjoy reading. As your kids grow older, instead of reading them books, you can spend 5-10 minutes talking with them before they go to bed. Lay in bed with them for a bit. Ask them about their day.     
  15. Learn together. Take your kids to museums, historical landmarks, nature centers, zoos and more. Make it a point to learn one or two new facts about something you didn’t know before.   
  16. Make videos for your kids. This is mainly for when you dads are deployed. Make a few recordings even before you leave on deployment. For example, if you know that you are going to be deployed over Christmas, or Easter, or your kids birthday, make a video recording for this special event ahead of time, and then you can have your wife play it for your kids at the appropriate time. Buy special books to match the occasion and you can read those books to them. Take advantage of the United Through Reading program while you are deployed. If you really want to get the full-circle effect, have your wife videotape the kids watching your video, and then send that back to you. Then you can see their reactions to your recordings. We did this when I was deployed on the ship, and it was so rewarding.  
  17. Tell your family you love them. Do this often! And don’t stop there by just telling them, SHOW THEM as well!  
  18. Randomly buy something for them. This is fun and they will love it. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. My son Adam loves paper airplanes and things that fly through the air. The other day while taking them to the Flying Leatherneck Museum at MCAS Miramar, I saw these cool flyers where you spin them in the air and watch them fly. They were only $3 each, so I got one for each child. My daughter loves flavored chapstick, so sometimes I’ll go to the store and pick out a few new fun flavors for her, like Dr. Pepper, or Orange Cream. She loves that. She also loves to write, so while at the Dollar Store, I found a journal and some cool pens, and brought those back for her. She loved that as well.   
  19. Read the "Five Love Languages" and "Five Love Languages for Kids".  These books are a great investment and help you learn the “language” of both your spouse and your kids. Everybody has a different love language.  What is your kids love language? As a matter of fact, most military Chaplains order these books, or can order them through the command supply system, and then you won’t even have to pay for them. I know that we keep several copies of this great book at my command.  
  20. Make fun traditions for your family. A few years back, I started this cool Christmas tradition in my family that was never done when I was little.  We call it the 25 days of Christmas activities. I make a Christmas activity calendar and have my kids help me. We pick out something to do every day from December 1st all the way up to Christmas Day. I like to incorporate activities and sight-seeing. Some of our favorites are making marshmallow snowmen, something I call the pillow surprise where I place a little present under their pillow, watch a Christmas movie with popcorn, hot cocoa by the fire, drive around looking at Christmas lights, listen to Christmas music while decorating the tree and more. This is so fun and our family really enjoys it. Another fun tradition we have is to have breakfast for dinner at least once per month. We will make waffles, bacon, pancakes with whip cream and all their favorite toppings, etc. Also, usually once a month we will let the kids each pick out what they want for dinner that night and will make it for them. My daughter loves sushi, so I’ll buy her some sushi. My son loves macaroni and cheese so I’ll make that for him.   
  21. Play board games. These are great family-time things. My kids love monopoly. We like to make popcorn or have cookies and milk while we sit around the living room. We’ll have like a mini indoor picnic while we play. I’ll even get out my iPhone and put on music so we can jam out while playing. They love to do this. Recently, we bought the Monopoly City WII game. That’s really fun.  
  22. Practice your faith. That old saying “A family that prays together, stays together” is still true today. Teach your kids how to pray, say grace before a meal, teach them about the bible. I realize this may not be for everyone, but for those who have a faith, practice it. What better way to build values in your children which they in turn will model for their future families some day.  
  23. Teach/Model Etiquette. I always make it a point to open the car door for my wife so that my kids can see what a gentleman should do. I also open the car door for my daughter Olivia, and then I tell her that a real man/gentlemen should do the same for her as well. I teach my son Adam by asking him to help me open the doors for my wife and daughter when we go to restaurants or to stores. Then both of them learn. We practice etiquette by asking one another politely to "please pass the salt or napkins". We have them each put their own plates in the sink, they ask to be excused from the table and they make sure that everyone has a napkin before we eat.   
  24. Let your kids plan out their day. Some weekends I’ll have both of my kids make a list of the top three things they want to do that day. Then we will compile the list, and start from the top. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive either. For example, the other weekend when we did this: my son Adam’s top three things were to draw together, play monopoly and go for a bike ride. My daughter Olivia’s was to play tag, watch a movie with popcorn and make homemade pizza for dinner. It was a busy but fun-packed day and we did all of those things. While I did this with the kids, my wife was able to go out and get a mani/pedi and have some nice “alone” time. This gave her a much-needed break and everyone had a good day. Then at the end, we all came together for dinner.   
  25. Plan surprise events. This is a great way to switch things up. Fortunately, we live in San Diego where there are tons of things to do and places to go. Every once in awhile, we will surprise our kids by taking them somewhere fun. When they wake up in the morning, we’ll tell them “hurry up and get ready, we are going to Sea World.” They get so excited and it makes for such a fun day.   

Well, that was my list of “Tips” for being a great dad, and how to maximize time with your family whenever you can. I hope you enjoyed reading these. Even more, my hope is that you might incorporate some of these things into your family routine. Take care and “GO GET EM DADS!

What would you add to this list?

Help Families in Oklahoma: Give to the Red Cross Now

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

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

Can see the video? Visit for more details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the upcoming father-son adventure, After Earth, opening May 31. 

A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

Facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash, father and son must learn to work together and trust one another if they want any chance of returning home. 

Although the film is set in a future world filled with evolved creatures and alien enemies, at its core is the relationship between a father and son whose bond has been strained by past trauma.

The film is set at that inevitable time when a father has to let his child go, and watch them live out the lessons they’ve been taught.

Fathers will leave the theater with a better understanding of the pressures of being a son, and sons will empathize with just how trying it can be for a parent to watch their child come of age. Stay tuned to our After Earth page for more details on the upcoming film.

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When Dad's in Jail—He's Still Dad: NFI Connects Father to Family

“I never had my dad or nobody tell me they were proud of me until this program..." —William Jones, recent graduate of NFI's InsideOut Dad, the skill-building program for incarcerated fathers. 

At National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), we often speak of our two approaches to engaging society about fatherhood. 1) Top-down: through communications campaigns and social media and 2) Bottom-up: our "boots on the ground" -- our work with community-based organizations and other civic partners to train and equip leaders to better serve the fathers in their communities.

One such example is our work in jails and prisons. The Richmond Times-Dispatch recently featured a program that's impacting the capital city of Virginia. The city jail uses our InsideOut Dad material that helps prisoners to be better dads. Read the following story; it shows what we really do.  

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“The goal is to get everybody to communicate with their kids, to relearn some parenting skills you never knew you had,” Fries said. At the completion ceremony, the men shared how the program affected them. Below are excerpts from the news article:

  • Ronnell Glasgow, 26, said he grew up without his father in his life and was repeating that pattern with his own children, daughters ages 7 and 9.
  • Glasgow is behind bars at the Richmond City Jail, but even when he was out he said he thought giving them material things was enough.
  • Just weeks into a fatherhood skills training program at the jail, Glasgow said he had reached out to his own emotionally distant father and was communicating more with his daughters, who he said are no longer shy around him.
  • “I understand the importance of not having a father,” Glasgow said, adding that with his own father he was “building a relationship as a father and a man.”
  • One man described having a 15-minute telephone conversation with his daughter, who he rarely spoke to before. 
  • Another described overcoming fear of rejection and reaching out to an adult daughter and his surprise at her welcoming response. 
  • Another talked about writing to his 6-year-old son and getting a reply.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that one recent graduate said after the program, “Being there for my kids is better than any gift,” said William Jones, 22, father of four children. Jones is in jail on a probation violation and plans to enter an addiction-treatment program when he is released.

A new 12-week session of InsideOut Dad at the Richmond City jail starts tomorrow (Tuesday). What's the prison nearest you doing to teach fathers the skills they need to be better dads?

The Father Factor Blog

Image: [Daniel Sangjib Min/TIMES-DISPATCH] Dennis Fries (left) an instructor for the InsideOut Dad program, gets a hug from William Jones, a participant in the class who wants better relationships with his four children.

Parenting Tips Inspired by Military Fatherhood Award Finalist CPO Patrick Mondragon

The end of voting for our 2013 Military Fatherhood Award finalists is fast approaching. If you haven't had a chance to watch the videos of the four finalists and vote for your favorite, check it out on Facebook now!

This week, we're shining the spotlight on CPO Patrick Mondragon with some tips from his experience as a dad that you can apply in your own family.

Chief Petty Officer Patrick Mondragon, U.S. Navy

  • CPO Patrick Mondragon, Military Fatherhood Award finalistCurrently serving at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  • Father of two kids, daughter age 9 and son age 8

Read CPO Mondragon's nomination

Tip 1) Spend one-on-one time with each child
In addition to spending time as a family, CPO Mondragon spends one-on-one time with both his son and his daughter. He takes his daughter to an annual Father-Daughter Dance, goes on field trips with the children's classrooms, and does other special things with both kids. Remember that each of your children need different things from you as a dad. Make a commitment to spend regular one-on-one time with each kid.

Tip 2) Make special days memorable for your kids
Before deploying, CPO Mondragon recorded videos his kids could watch on Valentine's Day, Christmas, their first day of school, or when they've had a bad day. He also creates a countdown activity calendar leading up to Christmas. Think about creative traditions you can add to your family's holidays. And don't forget to recognize the other big moments in your child's life, like losing the first tooth, starting school, or making the varsity team.

Tip 3) Make family dinners a priority
CPO Mondragon gets to work an hour early so that he can make sure he's always home for dinner with his family. Not every family is able to have dinner together every night, but as much as you are able, take time to have a meal together. NFI has some great ideas for how to use family meals as a opportunity to connect with your kids.

Tip 4) Read with your children
While he was deployed, CPO Mondragon served as the United Through Reading coordinator to help the sailors record videos for their children of themselves reading books aloud so that the kids could still have their dad read to them even while he was gone. For most civilian dads, bedtime stories don't require a DVD player - just grab a book and sit down together! Check out NFI's suggestions for investing in your children through reading.

Tip 5) Be strong for your family in the challenging times
When his children were very young, CPO Mondragon's wife experienced a life-threating medical situation and was hospitalized for an extended period of time. He had to assume full responsibility for their two toddlers and take care of her - and continue to fulfill his military duties. Your family's challenges will be unique, but your hard work, leadership, and love are key to helping your kids feel secure and grow through the situation. 

Vote Daily for  NFI's Military Fatherhood Award!
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Parenting Tips Inspired by Military Fatherhood Award Finalist Ssgt Jorge Roman

We're in the last few days of voting for the Military Fatherhood Award! Make sure you vote everyday for your favorite finalist! Each dad has great stories and we are grateful for their service to our country.

Even if you're not in the military, you can be inspired in practical ways by our Military Fatherhood Award finalists. This week, we're featuring SSgt Jorge Roman.

Staff Sergeant Jorge Roman, U.S. Army

  • Ssgt Jorge Roman, Military Fatherhood Award finalistCurrently serving at Fort Stewart, Georgia
  • Father of two daughters, ages 9 and 8, and expecting another

Read Ssgt Roman's nomination

Tip 1) Make everyday experiences learning opportunities

The Roman family enjoys being outside, and Ssgt Roman is always looking for opportunities to teach his daughters about nature, bugs, and plants. He also shares his love for art with his daughters by painting and making crafts with them. A great way for you to bond with your kids is to share your interests and look for teachable moments in the daily activities of life.

Tip 2) End every day on a positive note

Ssgt Roman and his wife tuck the girls into bed every night by reading a story or singing a song together. Even when he was deployed, he joined the family for bedtime by telephone as often as he could. Depending on the age of your children, a bedtime story might not be your family's evening routine. And, there will be days when you have to discipline your children or when your teens want to assert their independence.  However, make a commitment to end every day on a positive note with your family. 

Tip 3) Turn the phone off for family time

Ssgt Roman turns his phone on silent or off during dinner and other family times. The family knows that sometimes he has to answer the call of duty, but he is committed to not letting work interrupt his time with his family. Check out NFI's tips on how to turn off your phone and establish balance between work and family.

Tip 4) Invest in other kids who need a father figure

One of Ssgt Roman's colleagues in the Army is a single mom with four children. Ssgt Roman brings her kids home from school when he picks up his daughters, invites the children to play with his kids, and tosses a ball around with the son. He makes an effort to be a positive male role model for these children. NFI calls this being a Double Duty Dad. You probably know kids whose dads are not as involved or are absent from their lives and can be a positive influence in their life in simple but profound ways.

Tip 5) Know what is really important to pass on to your kids

Ssgt Roman is a first generation American. He didn't grow up with a lot of money. He is passing on the "American dream" to his daughters with the emphasis not on material things but on spending time as a family and instilling good values. As a dad, know that your relationship with your family is the real legacy you pass on.


Vote Daily for  NFI's Military Fatherhood Award!

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The Possibility of Freedom

At NFI, we like to say dads should be "involved, responsible and committed." In the new movie Home Run, we see what happens when someone isn't "involved, responisble or committed."

If you can't see the video above, visit our Home Run page for details.

Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements:

  1. There's something bigger than yourself for which to live.
  2. It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life.

In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself. While Home Run doesn't have Kevin Costner, I decided to break from watching The Bodyguard and review this film. As I watched, I was reminded of several life lessons. Here are two lessons that stuck out with me:

  1. Change Takes Work...
    Cory Brand, the big league baseball star in this film, makes his share of mistakes. In one game, he skips the third base when running bases and this sets everything in motion for a big crash in Cory's life. The interesting thing is, as Cory struggles to recover from his mistakes, he is given the job of overseeing the third base duties of a local little league team. Cory learns that to right his wrongs, he'll need to be ready to work. 
  2. ...But You Can Change.
    As long as we are living, there's time to change, to make things right. As long as you have time, change is possible. Cory goes from playing in the big leagues to overseeing a little league team. In this film, we see a real picture of struggle against past and years of mistakes. 

This film is full of important messages. Sometimes, like in real life, the mistakes in this film aren't easy to watch. But if you watch closely, you'll leave the theater reminded that there are things bigger than yourself for which to live, that purpose takes sacrifice, that change isn't easy, but change is possible. 

In your opinion, what's the greatest sports movie ever made?

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Parenting Tips Inspired by MFA Finalist Ssgt Charlie Linville

As we encourage you to vote for our 2013 Military Fatherhood Award™ finalists through May 12th, we're sharing tips inspired by the finalists that you can us with your family, even if you aren't in the military.

This week, we hightlight Ssgt Charlie Linville.

MFA13 Linville5 good resized 600Staff Sergeant Charlie Linville, U.S. Marine Corps

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

Read Ssgt Charlie Linville's nomination

Tip 1) Connect with Your Kids Through Challenges.
Ssgt Linville sustained injuries in Afghanistan and had his right leg amputated, yet that hasn't stopped him from playing with his daughters, taking them to fun places, and being involved in their extracurricular activities. His experience is not something most dads have to deal with, but you have other obstacles that can make it challenging to interact with your children. Whether those challenges are physical, geographical, or related to busy schedules, make an intentional choice to put your kids first and invest time with them, even if other factors make that difficult.

Tip 2) Communication is Vital.
While deployed, Ssgt Linville used modern technology such as Skype to stay connected with his daughters, but he also mailed them hand-written letters and brought them home gifts from his deployment. You can do the same thing while business traveling. Those real indications of your love will mean everything to your kids!

Tip 3) Model persistence and Hard Work.
Despite his injuries and daily pain, Ssgt Linville chooses to smile and spend time with his daughters doing their favorite activities. Linville understands the importance of teaching his daughters that they can accomplish anything in life. Your example of handling obstacles and difficulties will leave an impression on your kids and will prepare them to take on challenges with a good attitude.

Tip 4) Serve Your Community.
Ssgt Linville spends time talking with kids who are struggling with their dads' deployment and invests in other wounder warriors and their families, even through something as simple as babysitting their children. As a dad, your unique experiences will equip you to encourage and help other kids, dads, and families. Don't discount the impact of inviting another child to join your family for an activity or offering childcare for a couple who needs a night out.

Tip 5) Value Every Moment.
Because of Ssgt Linville's combat experiences and injuries, he knows that life is short and he makes sure to hug his daughters just a little longer every day. Even if your family never faces a life-threatening situation like military combat, your kids will grow up all too fast. Fathering is a challenging journey, but make the most of the time you have right now and enjoy every moment. Get those hugs in early and often!

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

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

Watch the Official Trailer []

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

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

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On Safety and Similarities with Our Kids

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

I was born in 1976, which means I had the honor of seeing Mr. Mom a number of times over the years. One of Michael Keaton’s more hilarious roles (you may disagree, but something about that movie catches my funny bone just right), the 1983 film had so many great ‘80s actors in it that it makes your head want to explode.  

best things in life arent things medium resized 600One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Michael Keaton’s character, Jack, finally gets one of his sons to give up his favorite blanket, or ‘Woobie’ as it’s referred to in the movie.  It’s a hilarious scene in which is son, Kenny, looks at Jack after he’s handed over his blanket and says, ‘Can I have a moment to myself please?’ After all, Kenny took his Woobie everywhere for years.  

This scene went through my head the other day as I realized that I’m not that much unlike Kenny. Why you ask?   

I have a sweatshirt that by all accounts is now 20 years old. No holes, no stains, no logos… just a plain black sweatshirt. I wear it once or twice every other week, and to this day it stands as one of my favorites.  

I drove my car for 180K miles and for 11 years, and as much as I like cars, it was hard to sell it. During a particularly rough period of my life, that car was one of few constants, and the logical side of my brain had a hard time coping with the fact that I was spending more in repairs than the car was worth. I knew that meant I had to get rid of it, but it wasn’t easy.  

I’m not a fan of things, to be honest. I like quality over quantity. I’d rather have 10 really nice things than 100 average things. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my 20-year-old sweatshirt. Or that getting rid of my car wasn’t truly difficult.   

We all have our Woobies. It’s just human nature. Things we gravitate to. Things we hold onto. Things that have value well beyond what someone might pay us for them.   

And so do our kids.   

Our kids teach us so many things. As they are constantly growing, learning, and developing, they hold onto those things that make them feel safe and that are dependable. They know that their favorite blanket, teddy bear, or pacifier is going to make things better, and they latch to those.  

Are we that different as dads and adults? We’re still growing, learning, and developing. We don’t know everything. Things around us exist that we don’t have the answers to. So we look for ways, and things, to keep us safe. We have our favorite sweatshirt or car because we all need something that reminds us that things will be OK.  

The next time you’re being Dad, talking with or watching or playing with your kids, and you see those elements playing out with them, think to yourself about how you can help each other be safe and comfortable. Instead of throwing out your old sweatshirt, or disposing of the Woobie too soon (we all know that eventually they might have to go), maybe revel in the similarities between you and your child.  

Then throw on your favorite sweatshirt, get under their favorite Woobie, and spend some quality time getting to know each other. The safety then lies with your relationship, not the ‘things.’ And the world will be a much better place when we all feel safe with the people around us rather than the things around us.  

What's something you/your spouse/kids have held on to for too long?!

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photo credit: Lili Vieira de Carvalho

Home Run Twitter Chat with Prizes! Tonight 8pm EST #HomeRunMovie

Home RunBaseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control.  

Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible.

As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future...and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption. 

To celebrate the opening of Home Run, we’re tweeting live with the Celebrate Recovery Pastor at Saddleback Church, Johnny Baker.

Tweet now with your questions using #HomeRunMovie or leave a comment on this post. Johnny Baker will also be answering questions live during tonight's Twitter Chat, but getting your question out there now increases the chances of having it answered.

Home Run Twitter Chat

When: Thursday, April 18th from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern

Where: #HomeRunMovie on Twitter

How: To participate, follow host @TheFatherFactor (in case host gets blocked during chat, follow @RyanSanders) and tweet using the hashtag. 

Who: Johnny Baker (@JohnnyCR), Celebrate Recovery Pastor at Saddleback Church will be live during the Chat to anwer questions and talk about the film and parenting. Please tweet questions using the hashtag provided throughout the day and/or place your questions in the comment section of this post. 

Sponsors of the #HomeRunMovie Twitter Chat are Propeller (@flypropeller) and Home Run (@homerunthemovie)

Get more details about Home Run and follow the film on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube


  • 4 (four) winners will receive a $25 theater gift card.
  • 10 (ten) winners will receive Home Run swag complete with: cap, t-shirt, baseball card packs & official soundtrack cd from the film.
HomeRunCD resized 600
HomeRunCap resized 600
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Planning on joining us? Let us know here by adding your Twitter URL ( An RSVP is not required to participate or to be entered to win.

Watch the Official Trailer


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King's Faith Movie: Bring it to Your City!

KF OneSheet[1] resized 600At NFI, we're excited to share the latest fatherhood film with you. We think this film will inspire you to be the best dad you can be. 

King’s Faith is the story of a troubled, fatherless young man named Brendan King, who is trying to straighten his life out as his past continues to invade it. With the help of strong foster parents, especially his new foster father, Brendan works through his issues. 

On April 26, King’s Faith, a faith-based film from Faith Street Film Partners and Hopefilled Media, will hit theaters…and you can have a say in whether it will be shown in your community’s movie theaters!

The foster father, Mike (played by James McDaniel), is a great example of how a strong father can build confidence and resilience in his children. He shows the unique and irreplaceable traits a father brings to the parenting equation, especially for a “lost” boy looking for guidance from a responsible male role model.

Don't miss the opportunity to use the movie King's Faith to engage fathers, mentors and youth in your community. Watch this clip of Brendan King's new foster Dad (Mike) advising Brendan on how to make good decisions.

DEMAND THE MOVIE for your local theater at

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Parenting Tips Inspired by MFA Finalist Major Kevin Billups

NFI invites the nation to help select the 2013 recipient of the Military Fatherhood Award™ by voting for our four finalists on Facebook. These dads are inspirational examples of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood and we are grateful for their service to the country.

As we encourage people to vote for the finalists over the next four weeks, we'll share practical tips inspired by the finalists that you can apply with your child. This week, we're shining the spotlight on Major Kevin Billups.

billups resized 600Major Kevin Billups, U.S. Air Force 

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

Read Maj. Billups' nomination page

#1 Get involved in your child's activities.
Major Billups serves as a Cub Scout leader in his son's troop. He helps his son learn the material in the Cub Scout handbook and work toward the achievements required for advancement. Being involved in your child's activities allows you to spend more time with your child, get to know your child's friends, and encourage your child to develop skills and interests. Whether it's a Scout troops, sports team, school or church activities, or other extracurricular activities, take an extra hour a week to be part of something your child is doing.

#2 Find ways to connect with your child.
When Major Billups was deployed, his son packed his favorite toy dinosaur in his dad's luggage. Maj. Billups took the dinosaur on all his flights and sent pictures home of the dinosaur accompanying him throughout the day. The dinosaur gave his son a fun way to see what Dad did while he was away. If you travel for work, you can do something similar. No matter what your job entails, find fun ways for your child to identify with what you do on a daily basis.

#3 Involve your child in household chores.
As is the case with most families, much of the Billups time is spent apart at work and school. Maj. Billups involves the kids in everday tasks and chores so that they can spend more time together. This also enables him to teach the kids responsibility. Your kids, no matter how old they are, can also help around the house. Identify age-appropriate tasks that your child can do or find ways to let him help you in your projects.

#4 Share your fathering experience with other dads.
Maj. Billups is an instructor for fathering classes that teach new dads how to support their pregnant wives and care for their newborn children. You don't have to teach a fathering class to pass on your experience to other dads. Take a younger dad out for coffee and talk about your fathering journeys. (NFI has a resource for mentoring other dads or fatherless children - check out the Double Duty Dad™ Guide.)

#5 Spend time together outside
Maj. Billups enjoys sharing his love of the outdoors with his children. They go fishing, gardening, build makeshift tee-pees, and other activities he enjoyed as a child. The family also captures their adventures by taking photographs. As much as you can, turn off the TV and get your family together outside.

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