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Take Time To Be A Dad Today

Check out the inspiring ads just released by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, a government project for which NFI is the lead contractor.

There are three ads in all, each one encouraging fathers that the "smallest moments have the biggest impact."

Below is my favorite. There are two additional ads: Double Dutch and Pizza, which are also very amusing.

Enjoy...and take time to be a dad today!

Jon and Kate Plus 8 Minus Jon = ?

Oh my. Where do we even start with this one?

How about with TLC, which, by the way, stands for The Learning Channel.

So what exactly what are we learning from the Jon and Kate saga? More importantly, what are the eight Gosselin children learing?

This week, Jon was cut from the show and now he is refusing to let film crews on to the property that he and Kate still share.

Well, I suppose TLC has reminded us of the time-tested truth that selfish pursuits like fame and money - pursuits that tempt all of us - can easily tear our families apart. If there is anything we can learn about the Jon and Kate saga, it's to reassess our priorities. Hopefully Jon and Kate will have the opportunity to do just that now that the cameras are off, and, while the Gosselin kids may have to give up exciting trips and photo-ops, they'll have the dad and mom they need.

No baby mama for Obama

I was delighted to see this article in the September 22 USA Today about a new book on the marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama. Christopher Andersen, a former editor of People Magazine, who called his book “Barack and Michelle Obama—Portrait of an American Marriage,” interviewed more than 200 people to get the details.

Although I have yet to read the book, on the surface, this is really good stuff. Frankly, I have often been frustrated, especially with stories about the President that encourage young people, in particular African American boys, to emulate Obama’s modeling as a black man, and even as a black father, but are strangely silent on the need to follow his example as a black husband.

Interestingly, the President and I share a lot in common—we are both African American men raised by single mothers, who attended Ivy League schools and who married accomplished women who graduated from Princeton in 1985. Accordingly, I think that I am on pretty sound footing when I state that, like me, the reason that Obama has been able to break his legacy of father absence is not because of his professional and political success, but rather because he is married to Michelle. No baby mama for Obama. You see, good fathering, like real estate, is about location, location, location and the fact that Michelle is in the house—White House or otherwise—is key to Barack being the kind of father that he never had.

That said, I do have one “bone to pick” with Andersen’s characterization of the Obama’s relationship. He states, “They’re devoted to each other. It’s unique…” Actually, it’s not unique…it’s marriage. And lots of couples in the black community are doing the same thing. The problem is that the press spends more time covering black rappers than black weddings and often fails to highlight the benefits of black marriage—and marriage in general. No doubt this neglect has been instrumental in facilitating a pernicious self-fulfilling prophesy that has yielded 2 out of 3 black children living in father absent homes.

Finally, I sincerely hope that in his book Andersen spent as much time chronicling the benefits that Michelle has received from being married to Barack. This article, like most that I have seen, focuses on the benefits that Barack has received. (e.g. “She is the reason he is where he is,” the author says.) I have been happily married for 27 years and I know first hand that a good marriage is about giving and receiving. Over the years, I’ve had women friends who weren’t big on marriage or who had children with guys who clearly weren’t marriage material say, “I can do bad all by myself.” Accordingly, I think that it’s essential that women hear from the First Lady that “you can do pretty darn well with him too.” No doubt, this is the way she feels. Just look at the portrait on Andersen’s book cover.

Songs of our Fathers

This weekend, I attended a concert of guitar virtuoso and three time Grammy® nominee Stanley Jordan. It was a pretty amazing concert for a number of reasons.

First, Stanley was a couple of years ahead of me at Princeton and it had been some time since I had seen him play. I didn’t really know him while we were in college other than to nod “hello” when we would pass each other on campus. We “played” in different circles that didn’t overlap…his a world of jazz and mine a world of football pads.

Second, Stanley developed a unique way of playing the guitar with both hands topping the fret board that creates a sound like no other guitarist. (Check out his rendition of “Stairway to Heaven.”) Even in college, he was becoming quite well-known for this technique. It’s really something to see and hear…

At one point in the concert, Stanley strolled over to the piano and began to play a song. Nothing unique about this since lots of folks can play multiple instruments. But then, he started playing the piano AND the guitar simultaneously. Amazing.

When he finished playing, he explained that the song was called, “Song for My Father” and then he spoke a bit about the importance of fatherhood. Here’s what he had to say in the notes of his fabulous new CD “State of Nature.”

Fathers of fathers, sons of sons
Timelessly linked.
Fatherhood, that precious profession;
That sacred occupation.
Passing on strength and wisdom,
Leaving no stone unturned,
Moving heaven and earth
To teach and protect,
To love and inspire,
And ultimately, to free.
For we are all children of mystery.

When Stanley finished his remarks and moved to the next number, I could not help but linger there a bit. Ironically, his unique ability to play two instruments simultaneously with such grace and skill is the perfect metaphor for what good fathers do. They balance family AND work. They balance affection AND discipline. They balance patience AND urgency. They do all of this—and much more—to create a “melody” that their children’s hearts need to see and to hear. Like Stanley’s music, it’s a thing of beauty.

Online Adultery

I just read an item from Time about a "personal site aimed at facilitating extramarital affairs." It is called AshleyMadison.com. Among the many ghastly things about this, one of the most interesting statements in the article was this: traffic on the site tripled the day after Father's Day. According to the site's CEO, it is because the day after Father's Day is a day when many men feel "underappreciated."

That is very sad - not a reason to cheat - but sad. Why don't we as a culture appreciate fathers enough? Too many bad ones, our own screwed up priorities, selfishness .... Any ideas?

We couldn't agree more.

Excellent TIME magazine cover story: Why Marriage Matters, by Caitlin Flanagan:

Few things hamper a child as much as not having a father at home. "As a feminist, I didn't want to believe it," says Maria Kefalas, a sociologist who studies marriage and family issues and co-authored a seminal book on low-income mothers called Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage.

"Women always tell me, 'I can be a mother and a father to a child,' but it's not true." Growing up without a father has a deep psychological effect on a child. "The mom may not need that man," Kefalas says, "but her children still do."

Tiger Daddy

This story from the New York Times about Tiger Woods' fatherhood is really amazing. It covers a whole host of issues (marriage, divorce, parenting, father absence, deployment) in a very thoughtful way.

If there is one thing you can conclude from the article, it is that Tiger Woods seems to love being a father. There are several quotes from him that reveal his love for daddyhood. For example:
"I love to teach, and to be able to teach Sam, and as soon as I can, start teaching Charlie a few things, that’s fun. I live to be able to do that."

Perhaps the most interesting question the story raises is how Tiger is going to avoid his own father's mistakes. His father, Earl, had a family before he had Tiger, and, due to his long military deployments, he "lost" that family to divorce. Now that Tiger is away for long stretches playing golf, how will he handle his own work/family balance dilemma? Big question ...

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