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The Father Factor


The Championship Legacy You Pass to Your Kids

The NCAA Championship game is finally here! You know your team isn't playing...but you can still salvage something good from all the college basketball over the last month! If you've followed us on social media or here at the blog at all, you know we've been working hard to provide you with real-life tips throughout the madness.

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Throughout March Dadness, we've given you the following tips:

Sweet 16) 16 Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear

Elite 8) 8 Amazingly Easy Activities You Can Do With Your Child

Final 4) The 4 Magical Steps to Making Your Child a Winner in Life

We hope you have not only enjoyed the games, but have enjoyed getting tips and tools for your role as "Coach" in your family. 

Today, we have one more idea to leave you with as you gear up for the Championship game.

Our mission at NFI is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children who grow up with involvedresponsible, and committed fathers. Involved, Responsible, and Committed are qualities that we think are essential for fathers, and they make up the foundations of the legacy you pass on to your children and generations to come. Leave a legacy of a champion by living out these qualities every day.

The Championship Legacy You Leave Your Kids

  • Involved: Be involved in your child's life - change diapers, read bedtime stories, discipline with gentleness, go to sporting events and extracurricular activities, talk to your teens about important topics. Here's a thought: get to know their friends. Or how about the parents of your child? Do you know them. Have you ever talked to them? Two of our favorite sayings at NFI are "The smallest moments make the biggest impact in the life of a child" and "Kids spell love T-I-M-E." Your mission as father is to be involved in the big and small moments of your child's life.
  • Responsible: We like to say that responsible dads do three things for their children: provide, nurture, and guide. Provide for your children's needs (this is more than putting food on the table; make sure they are safe, healthy, and loved). Nurture your children by calling out their best qualities, encouraging them to reach their potential, and demonstrating your love by words and actions. Guide your child by teaching them values, coaching them when they make mistakes, and helping them find their own direction in life.
  • Committed: Be committed to lifelong fathering. Your job as a dad doesn't start when you get home from work and it doesn't end when your kids graduate from high school. You are a dad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of your child's life. When you're 80 and your child is 50, you will still be a dad. Also, be committed to the institution of fatherhood. In a time when 24 million children in America are growing up without their fathers, good dads like you need to be shining examples of fatherhood by mentoring other dads and children who don't have fathers.

As you strive be an involved, responsible, and committed father every day, you will create a Championship Legacy that will have generational impact in the lives of your children and their families.

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4 Ways a Dad Can Make His Child "R-I-C-H"

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The Final Four is upon us! As you're gearing up for this weekend, review these four values and see which you can work on with your child. Below are four values we think your child should learn from you. Bring it home to the championship, coach!

Roland Warren, NFI's former president and now board member, is fond of saying:

  • If you give your children money and no values, you give them everything they need to fail; if you give them values and no money, you give them everything they need to succeed.

While there are a lot of values that are important for you to pass to your child, we came up with a helpful acronym to help you remember the four values. 

To stick with Roland's quote, help your kids become R-I-C-H in life by modeling and teaching these values.

Take ownership for your actions. This isn't easy. Believe me, I'm the guy who likes to say "freaking" a lot. But I'm also the guy who would rather my six-year-old daughter not go to school and say "freaking." Therefore, on the occasion that I insert "freaking" into a sentence, I need to show responsibility and say, "You know, daddy shouldn't have used that word. Daddy makes mistakes too sometimes..." Does it sound like I've done this before? Yeah. I have. And you know that kids are the best at pulling out EVERY word they hear! The point is, when you make a mistake—and you will—apologize and fix it. Just as your child hears—and probably repeats everything she hears—she can also spot a phoney. If you don't model responsibility, who will?

This goes well with the first point. But, it's important to stress, always do what is right and tell the truth, even if it costs you personally. When you child sees this modeled in you, he will learn more from the example than the speech! Know what your values are and stand by them. Be reliable and trustworthy. How does this work in a father-child relationship? For starters, don't say, "I'll be home in time to take you to the park." Then you either a) don't show up in time to go to the park or b) you show up but let something fall through so you don't end up going to the park. Your word is your word. It means something—and it should. You start with a clean slate with your child. Be trustworthy and you will be great in your child's eyes. Making promises you don't keep is a sure-fire way to have you child not trust you—and even worse—have your child not feel loved.

As your child's leader, be sure you are treating others with respect, even if you disagree with them or don't really like them. Reminder: your child is listening and watching you! Listen and seek to understand others. Be willing to sacrifice to help someone else. As you are helping, explain to your child the "why" behind the help. As your child ages, you can discuss with him or her why you care so deeply about helping take food to the neighbor, volunteer at church or donate money to certain causes. Look for opportunities to explain to your child the motivation behind your sacrifice.

Give credit to others when it's due. Show appreciation for praise and compliments. You can model humility to your child by teaching them to point out other people's good that they see. Humility is another value that must be taught by word, but also by action. 

Dad, talk about what these values look like in real life to help your children understand why these traits are important. Praise your child when they show these qualities or when you see them displayed in their siblings or friends. When your child makes a mistake, talk with them about how their actions violated these character traits and what they can do differently next time. Most importantly, model these character qualities consistently. Your children will learn more from what you do than from what you say. With these character traits, your children will be truly R-I-C-H in life.

What do you find works for teaching these four values to your child? Experienced dads, please share your wisdom in the comments. 

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8 Amazingly Easy Activities You Can Do With Your Child

MarchDadnessTwitter 520x260 resized 600While you're tracking your March Madness bracket this week, be sure you have the details of March Dadness. We started our bracket with the Sweet 16: Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear and are now moving on to the next round with the "Elite 8". Today we have eight activities every child needs to experience with his or her dad.

At NFI, we say "the smallest moments make the biggest impact in a child's life." While not all "the smallest moments" HAVE to include an activity; in most cases, shared experiences can create times for lasting memories.

Here are eight activities you can use to create memories with your child this week. 

  1. Teach Your Child a Sport: Take an afternoon to teach your son or daughter how to dribble a basketball. If your child can already do a crossover, consider teaching the rules of the game or studying the dimensions of the court. Go on, you don't have to be a pro player, practice that jumper with your child. Remember, the important thing is you're spending time together. Not at all a fan of basketball? Well, you're probably not the greatest dad you can be. However, replace basketball with the sport you like. Play catch with a baseball or better yet, what better reason to get on the golf course than to teach your child about the game?!
  2. Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike: From first learning to ride or taking the training wheels off, riding a bike is a big deal for kids. I'm thinking now of my three-year-old riding her tricycle all over our house. She gets the biggest kick out of it—especially if she knows I'm watching and interested. Her whole demeanor changes as she pedals. Her eyes light up and her chin raises as she glides through our living room and stops crashing into the kitchen. This may sound like a simple thing—and it is—but be sure not to miss it.
  3. Go Camping with Your Child: Camping is a great way to connect with your family. Whether it means tent and fire under the stars or on the living room floor with covers and pillows every afternoon like at our house. Use the time to disconnect from work at the office (or around the house) and connect with your child.
  4. Take Your Child on a Date: Set aside a couple of hours to spend just you and your child. This can be as planned or as cheap as you make it. Go to the playground, stop for lunch or simply take a walk and talk in your neighorhood. By doing this, you connect with your child on a deeper, more meaningful level. If you have more than one child; simply schedule various times for each child. This may not be a weekly occurance for your family. However, it's an invaluable tool that can show how much you cherish your children. Trust me, with two daughters, I speak from experience, this isn't easy to make time for. I don't do this as often as a should, but when I do it, it's some of the most valuable time I spend with my girls.
  5. Volunteer with Your Child: Whether you're serving at your church or helping at a local homeless shelter, there's great opportunities for you and your child to give your time to a good cause together. Your child will enjoy spending time with you and you'll be setting a good example for a lifelong habit of service.
  6. Read with Your Child: Your child is never too young (or too old) to read with you.  From reading Llama Llama Red Pajama for the hundreth time or The Hobbit with your teen, great books (and the conversion that happens during this time) will last you a lifetime. Make it a regular habit to read aloud with your child.
  7. Take Your Child to the Bank: Remember real banks? Yeah, I barely can either. While this activity may seem odd. We mention it here because it's a great oppotunity to create a memory with your child. How often do you open a bank account in life? I'm guessing—not very often. Depending on the age of your child, this could be a great time of connecting. The experience of opening an account can be awesome. But also, the whole process of teaching your child about money and responsibility is really where we're going with this idea—an ongoing opportunity of connection! It's a connection point that you and your child will not forget. I remember my mother taking me into our local bank branch when I was young. I haven't forgotten the formal building, the leather chairs, the large desks and me signing my life away for my first acount! The excitement was intense—to see money in my account was unforgettable. Well, perhaps I haven't forgetten about having money in my account because that was the last time I would have money in my account! But I digress...on to the last activity ideas...
  8. One Last Activity Idea: (for sons) Teach your son to tie a tie and/or shave: Boys need their dads to coach them through these "rites of passage" in manhood. Heck, every time I shave, my daughters "shave" with me. Although time consuming, I often remind myself that there will come a time when my girls no longer care about their dad shaving! 
    (for daughters): Go dancing. Whether it's a silly dance in the living room or a daddy-daughter dance held locally, girls need their dad to show them how a guy treats a girl.
Question: What would you add to this list?

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16 Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear From You

march sadnessMarch Madness officially starts today. While you're flipping channels at home or online to see how your bracket's doing, be sure your using #MarchDadness for all your social media posts. Today, we start our official tournament of tips and tools for fathering. We begin our bracket with the Sweet 16!

The words a coach says from the bench, in time-outs, and pre-game huddles all have a big impact on how players perform on the court. Have you watch a game where the players can't do anything right in the first half; only to come out in the second half and play like champions? Odds are good that the coach gave a great half-time speech and somehow communicated well what his team was doing well and not so well.

In the same way, what you say to your children each day has influence on your child—for good or for ill. Your child should receive continual encouragement and affirmation. Don't assume that hearing praise from teachers, Mom or other people is enough—your child needs to hear from YOU. You can live out and model love all you want, but saying the words below are crucial to helping your child develop confidence and character. It's up to you, dad. 

Be intentional about saying these affirming phrases frequently to your kids. I would challenge you to stop, get your child's attention, look them in the eye and tell them convincingly the following phrases. These aren't in order of importance.

  1. I'm so proud to be your dad!
  2. Good job!
  3. You are beautiful/handsome.
  4. You are so sweet/smart/brave/creative.
  5. It's wonderful how you demonstrate kindness/thoughtfulness/compassion.
  6. Thank you for helping.
  7. You are very good at _______.
  8. I believe in you.
  9. You can do it!
  10. No matter what happens, you can always come to me.
  11. I will always be there for you, no matter what.
  12. You are unique and special.
  13. I'm glad you are my son/daughter.
  14. I appreciate you so much.
  15. The day you were born was one of the best days of my life.
  16. I LOVE YOU!
Question: What's missing from our list?

Let #MarchDadness Begin!

march sadnessKing, Jackson, Howard, Rose, Webber…these names conjure up lessons and memories for the sports fan—lessons in greatness and defeat. The names collectlively were "The Fab Five," which was the nickname for the 1991 University of Michigan men's basketball team. They were and still are considered by most to be "the greatest class ever recruited." The team reached two championship games in the early nineties while freshmen and sophomores, which was unheard of before they did it.  

Perhaps bigger than the team playing in championships, they brought the intimidation factor to college sports in a way not previously seen. They were known as a team who changed the style of basketball. They wore their shorts longer than everyone else and wore black shoes with black socks.  

I must confess as a 12- or 13-year-old playing public school basketball, our all-caucasian team in the mountains of Tennessee intentionally stole the Fab Five's style. Yes, our game suits may have been purple and white and said “Eagles” instead the blue and gold of the “Wolverines”; but you couldn’t tell us we weren’t cool enough to wear our shorts below our knees, with black Nike shoes and black socks purchased by our moms.

This is the magic of March Madness: whether you're a sports fanatic, proudly wearing your team colors and never missing a game, or prefer to spend your time doing other things, there's memories wrapped up in these college basketball games. If you don’t enjoy the games, perhaps your child will. The games can be a great time to connect with your kids and family. 

As a dad, you're the coach of your own team and your "players" are looking to you for the strategies and techniques that will help them win in the game. This month, as TVs, computers and mobile devices across the nation tune to the NCAA college basketball tournament, we're getting in on "March Madness" too by bringing you March Dadness!  

Tips for Coach Dad
As you're filling out your bracket and gearing up for the tournament, use our bracket of tips and strategies to build your game plan for fathering.

During the month of March, our Dad Email will follow the March Madness tournament schedule:

  • Sweet Sixteen: 16 Words Your Kid Should Hear from You
  • Elite Eight: 8 Activities Your Kid Should Experience with You
  • Final Four: 4 Character Traits Your Kid Should Get from You
  • The Championship: The Legacy You Pass to Your Kid  

Tools for Coach Dad
Dad Email and The Father Factor Blog: Stay tuned to The Father Factor Blog for stories related to the college basketball season, from stories and memories to tips, tools and advice related to our kids and family.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine: We'll be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine with our opinions and pics about March Madness. Whether you’re watching the game alone with a bucket of wings or with your child teaching her how to shoot free-throws, be sure to connect with us using #MarchDadness as the hashtag.

The Community
Speaking of bracketology, you can join National Fatherhood Initiative’s Fantasy League by signing up today (Group Password: Fatherhood).  

Visit our Fatherhood March Dadness Page for more information.

Let the 'Dadness' begin!  

Question: Which team do you think will win it all this year?  

Experience March Dadness to the Fullest — Sign up for the Dad Email Today!

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March Madness: Friendly Competition for Dads and Kids

National Fatherhood Initiative recently launched March Dadness: Tips for Coach Dad on Leading Your Team to Victory, inspired, of course, by the March Madness NCAA tournament. Here at the NFI office, we'll be turning in our brackets for the office pool. At home, my dad and three brothers are finalizing their brackets. I asked my dad (father of seven) to share some fathering perspectives on this annual event. Here's his thoughts...

March Madness is one of our favorite times of the sports year because it affords three weeks of friendly competition between my three sons and I. We're a basketball family - all my kids play it, I coach it, and we follow it on ESPN. From the Jeremy Lin sensation to Duke's buzzer beater over North Carolina to sitting in the stands watching my ten-year-old twin daughters compete on Saturday afternoons, to say we like basketball would be an understatement. This March, like every other March, we'll be filling out brackets and tracking teams en route to the Final Four and National Championship.

As a dad, I've found this to be one of the ways to connect with my kids in a friendly, competitive environment. This works for both the teenagers still at home and those who are far from home - my 23-year-old son serving in the Air Force in Utah emails his bracket to us and calls home to join the pre- and post-game commentary. My sons are pretty competitive when it comes to researching teams as they fill out their bracket. The Monday morning USA Today newspaper with the full section on March Madness is passed around among the boys. My daughters, on the other hand, are more interested in watching the teams they like than in the bracket competition and will join their brothers around the TV at game time. (My 18-year-old daughter, however, did secretly make her own bracket last year.)

The lesson I've learned through this is that opportunities to have positive experiences with my kids, instead of always being in the mode of correcting attitudes and behavior, are valuable. Finding common interests and spending time together is important to building relationships, communicating love and value, and balancing the times when discipline and correction are required as a parent. It doesn't have to be basketball to successfully build an enjoyable experience between father and sons and daughters, but events that can be looked forward to and reoccur on a periodic basis (like March Madness) become a lifelong memory and something that both dads and kids can anticipate.

Dads, if you want to institute a family March Madness competition with your kids, download a bracket here. Sign-up for the Dad E-mail to get our latest March Dadness updates!

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