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The Father Factor


How to Raise a Resilient Child

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

The discussion today around parenting often centers on "helicopter parents," those parents who hover over every aspect of their children's lives to such an extent that they organize and monitor every minute of their children's lives. As a result, their children have little or no space to explore the world on their own and learn how to effectively navigate life's challenges from one of life's great teachers -- learning from failure.


The fact is that no matter how closely parents try to manage their children's lives they can't possibly protect them from life's trials and tribulations. Indeed, parents shouldn't protect their children from those things. Parents should guide their children instead in how to effectively manage the challenges they'll face on their own. Even then children need the resilience to bounce back from those challenges because, inevitably, they will fail. They will make mistakes. They will get knocked down and, in some cases, knocked out. Although counterintuitive, the sooner parents live with and embrace that their children will fail, the more effective parents become.

One of the greatest gifts parents can bestow on their children is to build their children's resilience. The authors of Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, one of them a former Navy SEAL, identify five factors that help people become more resilient. Although written as a self-help book for adults, parents can use this knowledge to focus the coaching of their children on building those factors. (After all, a good parent is a good coach.)

Here are five factors that resilient people possess and parents should build in their children:

  • Active Optimism: Resilient people are optimistic even in the face of challenges and setbacks. They're not overly optimistic, but realistic in their optimism that when they continue to move forward and avoid paralysis in making decisions, they will eventually succeed.
  • Decisive Action: Resilient people act on their optimism. They consider their options, decide how to face challenges and act decisively. They don't allow challenges to paralyze them or wait for others to tell them what to do. They don't wait for things to happen, they make things happen.

  • Moral Compass: Resilient people have a moral compass anchored in honor, integrity, fidelity and ethics. They use this anchor to decide which actions to take.
  • Relentless Tenacity and Determination: Resilient people stay true to the paths on which their decisions take them. They don't quit. Not quitting doesn't mean they are so naive or stubborn that they're unwilling to change a path when it becomes clear that a decision was not the best one. It means they won't quit until they find out whether their decisions are the right ones and, if not, to pursue other solutions. It also means that when it's clear they've failed, they won't allow failures to keep them down or negatively affect their self-worth.
  • Interpersonal Support: Resilient people realize and embrace the need for help. As they make decisions, they consider whether they can go it alone or need help. When they ask for help, they don't feel in the least that help is a sign they are somehow inadequate.

I would also add a sixth factor: resilient people lack a victim mentality. There are legitimate situations in which people are victims, a perfect example of which is the recent murders of more than 125 people in France from multiple, coordinated acts of terrorism. But a victim mentality is a state of mind, a trait that someone acquires and leads to blaming external factors (e.g. people) for failures even when no clear evidence exists that external factors played a role. The lack of a victim mentality doesn't mean that someone is never a victim. It means resilient people don't seek to blame someone or something else or for their failures -- even when someone or something else might have contributed to a failure. They accept responsibility for their part and the lack of control they have over external contributing factors. They get up and move on.

A great perspective to take in raising your child to become resilient is the second of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Begin with the End in Mind. (These habits apply to being an effective parent as well.) Who do you want your child to become when she or he is an adult? If you want your child to be a resilient adult -- and to raise your grandchildren to be resilient -- focus on building these six factors.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Spotlight > Richmond Jail Gives Dads 3 Hours and Hope (Video)

Three hours. Imagine being locked up for a year or more and then getting to spend three hours with your daughter. You get to put on a suit and connect with her. What would you tell her? What happens when the three hours ends and you have to replace the suit with your prison clothes?

I dare you to watch the entire video from "This is Life" by Lisa Ling (CNN) and not cry. I dare you to watch and not see how connecting fathers to their families can inspire dads to stay out of prison once released. 

richmond city jail fatherhood program

Between the father absence crisis in America and Fathers Behind Bars, we have the statistics. Stats are important for helping us understand the problem. But, what we're often missing is the real-life stories behind the statistics.

Richmond City Jail is a great story of hope in an often hopeless world. They are innovative in connecting fathers and families. They have used our InsideOut Dad® program, the 12-week evidence-based course built to improve relationships between incarcerated fathers and their families.

Richmond City Jail inmates, who were recently featured on CNN, are receiving the real-life skills they need to become better husbands and fathers.

The dads in this jail are being taught the things their fathers never taught them. Those of us blessed to grow up with good dads still make our mistakes. But imagine not having a father to teach you life skills. Watch Terrence Williams tell his story. His dad left early on in his life. Terrence has been in and out of jail over a dozen times related to drug charges. Watch the video below. You will see Terrence, who has 5 kids, learn not only how important it is to be a good father—but how to be one a good father.

“When I didn’t have no money...I didn’t come around because I didn’t feel like I could be a father,” he says in the video. “And being in this program taught me that what I thought was being a father wasn’t being a father at all. Being a father is spending time with your children.”

This is a great lesson for every dad—whether you're behind bars or behind an office desk. 

“The main goal (of a fatherhood program) is to prepare them for re-entry so that they don’t come back,” says Sarah Scarbrough, the internal program director at the jail, the fatherhood program is a major part of that.

“Unfortunately, Richmond has such an extremely high rate of premarital births and fatherless homes,” Scarbrough explains on the video. “Boys who grow up without their dads are 87% more likely to be incarcerated than those with fathers in their homes.”

The CNN special focuses a lot on the father-daughter dance hosted by the jail. This event gives the incarcerated fathers and their daughters a chance to dress up and connect...if only for three hours.

Take time to watch the video below and you'll see several dads say things like:

“When I hugged my daughter and she embraced me and then she cried, that kind of let me know the pain and what she was going through out there, without her father.” —Terrence Williams

“They taught me how to express myself to my children, they taught me how to understand my children, how to deal with them.” —Aziz Scott, a former inmate

“That’s what motivates me and inspires me to get out and do the right thing.” —Williams says about the event and connecting with his kids.

We are inspired by the impact Richmond City Jail is having on connecting fathers to families. Thank you, CNN and Lisa Ling, for shining the spotlight on a worthy story. Thank you Angela Patton and your group, the Richmond City Justice Center, the Virginia Department of Health, the National Partnership for Community Leadership, and the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative involved in working to connect fathers to families and give hope to Richmond. We look forward to hearing more stories like this.

Watch the full episode of Fatherless Towns here


We've written previously about Richmond City Jail. Here are a few posts:

iod_fhb_cvrWhether you work in corrections or are interested in volunteering to teach dads, download our free sample of InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. You can find folks who care about fathers and are using our resources in your area by visiting here.

The Father Factor Blog

How Can I Keep My Teen Safe with Their New Smartphone?

If you're a dad or serve dads of teens, they already have a smartphone of their own or have been asking for many months, hoping to join the digital, always connected generation with their own iPhone or Android phone. Kudos to them, but not so fast, because while children eagerly insist that they’re ready for adult responsibilities, they really aren’t, cognitively or emotionally, and that includes the serious responsibility of having a tiny computer in their pocket.

How Can I Keep My Teen Safe with Their New Smartphone? tech and teen

Let's be candid: the Internet is a quite terrifying place in spots and there are quite legitimate risks that they'll face on a daily basis. For boys, it includes being exposed to — or actively seeking out — hardcore pornography that could truly scar him and affect his perception of healthy intimate relationships (there’s some harrowing research just coming out on this subject). There are also hate groups and even terrorist organizations who are learning to master the “grooming” process through online chat groups and social media.

For girls, there's the challenge of a healthy self-image which can be destroyed by the cruel candor of the online world. No girl is skinny enough for the masses and other children (and adults) aren't shy about sharing their opinions in a blunt, vocal fashion. When she posts her first selfie and is told she's ugly, fat and stupid looking, it can permanently scar, a particular form of cyberbullying that's way too common with girls as each tries to find their own identity and come to terms with their physical appearance, both what they can change and what they cannot. 

Cyberbullying really is at epidemic level in the modern digital world of the adolescent. This can manifest as your child being the victim of a non-stop stream of hostile, belittling, taunting and vitriol, of course, but it can also come out as your child seeking to be accepted by the “cool kids” and joining in on the harassment and bullying of another child. And this isn't just the hostile teens who act out in this fashion either, because I can hear you saying "not my little angel".

Okay, so that’s some of the down side of them going online with a smartphone. The upside is that mobile phones offer access and safety, whether it’s your child being able to check in with you after school so you know where they are at any point of the day or them being able to call you to say they want to come home from a party that’s starting to get out of hand. I've had my teens do just that more than once, one time with my daughter not even knowing exactly where she was in town and us having to use a mapping program to figure it out. We were both thankful she could reach out and I could come get her.

Smartphones are also really fun. There are a remarkable number of engaging, stimulating and entertaining games available on modern phones, whether your teen wants an iPhone or Android phone. Not enough diversion? There's email. Snapchat. Instagram. Tumblr. Texting. YouTube. Netflix. Social Media. The number of ways that people can connect through smart devices is quite astonishing nowadays, with more social networks and options appearing every week.

Which is, again, one of the dangers. Children really aren't the best at managing their time and moderating influences so that they have a healthy balance of tech and non-tech time in their lives. Homework suffers. Relationships suffer. They become withdrawn and sneaky. Happens again and again, even with the most enlightened and loving families. Girls and boys.

So if you really are going to travel down this path, I suggest that you come up with a behavioral contract before any purchase is made, one that emphasizes that the smartphone is a privilege granted by you parents and that it continues to be available based on your child's ability to use it responsibly and meet the terms of the contract. 

I would also suggest having a set amount of time the phone is available each day, that it is powered down each night at a rational time (perhaps 8pm or so, at least an hour before bedtime so its use doesn’t interrupt healthy sleep cycles), and that parents are always aware of any and all passwords set for the phone and individual applications. And occasionally, sit down and go through their phone book with them, text messages and friend lists on social media. Who are these people and why is your child letting them into his or her life? A healthy dose of skepticism is a smart lesson in this digital era.

It really is a tricky world out there. For adolescents and technology, there’s a lot of dangerous territory and it’s up to us parents to be smart and look out for their best interests, not just hand them the device and assume it’s all going to work out for the best. Let them slowly earn their digital freedom, but in measured steps and with you helping ensure their safety along the way...good luck and be careful!

What's one piece of advice you've found helpful when it comes to smartphones and teens? 

The Father Factor Blog  

Dave Taylor has two teen children, an 18yo daughter and 15yo son who both have smartphones. Oh, and an 11yo who is clamoring for a smartphone of her own. You can read about his adventures as a single father on his popular site or find him on Twitter as @DaveTaylor.

How to Raise a Charitable Child

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

What's the secret to raising a charitable child? It's simple. Talk to them about charitable giving.

In a recent study of more than 3,100 U.S. families, researchers found that children whose parents talk to them about charitable giving are more likely than others to donate to causes, particularly if the parents themselves engage in charitable giving. These conversations about giving really matter in shaping and nurturing children's altruistic behavior. In other words, parents, preach what you practice when it comes to charitable giving.

There's no better time than the next few weeks to start these conversations with your children. That's because #GivingTuesday is right around the corner. If you're unfamiliar with #GivingTuesday, it's the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two days of the year when most of the nation's families become mega-consumers clamoring for the best deals on gifts for family and friends during the holidays. #GivingTuesday, which falls on December 1st this year, focuses instead on giving to the thousands of charities that rely on donations to pursue their vital missions, many of which center on helping the less fortunate among us.

#GivingTuesday is now in its fourth year. Started in 2012 by a cultural center in New York City, it has rapidly spread to involve more than 30,000 partners in nearly 70 countries. It provides a fantastic opportunity to start the conversation with your children about the importance of giving to a cause that moves them. #GivingTuesday is not only about financial giving, it's also about giving time and talent, two assets that children can have in abundance. And it harnesses the power of social media, a tool that is oh so familiar to today's children. Connecting your children with #GivingTuesday helps them see charity from that broad perspective during a time of year when they might be focused more on the material aspect of the holidays and what they'll get rather than what they'll give.

Visit the #GivingTuesday website with your children to learn more about how they can get involved. Encourage your children to identify organizations that operate locally or globally that will participate in #GivingTuesday and whose missions align with your children's interests. Then challenge your children to discover how much joy they can experience when they give to others less fortunate than them.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Spotlight > Maury County Jail Helps Incarcerated Fathers

650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year. Most prisoners are fathers. Why not prepare these fathers for release while in prison?

Imagine sitting behind bars—learning nothing and bored—wishing time away. Now, imagine the opposite. Imagine attending a class that addresses the skills you need—preparing you for your eventual release. This post is about a program that's giving hope and purpose to fathers in jail. Maury County Jail gets it. This is their story...

Between the father absence crisis in America and Fathers Behind Bars, we must do better at educating fathers and connecting them to their families. If we can give these men the skills they need to connect with their family—we can change everything.

Writing for The Daily Herald, Mike Christen reveals how the Maury County Jail is helping incarcerated fathers deal with the struggles of fatherhood. 

Maury County Jail uses our InsideOut Dad® program, the 12-week evidence-based course designed to improve the relationships between incarcerated fathers and their families though an examination of family history, parenting skills and communication.

“There is a trust there,” says instructor Brian Loging, speaking of the program sessions from jail. He describes the sessions as "a safe place where inmates can share their true thoughts and emotions compared to the rough and sometimes dangerous environment of the Maury County Jail."

The inmates learn from their Fathering Handbooks how to show and handle their feelings, their children’s growth, how to handle stress, co-parenting tips,  and how to be a dad—even from behind bars.

Loging has led 100 inmates through the InsideOut Dad® program from Maury County Jail.

He teaches the course with his own motto:

“Good choices make good men and you have to be a good man to make a good father,” Loging says. He repeats this line to the the inmates during every session.

The program is well-received. It has a year-long wait list. Inmates recommend it to other inmates, Loging says. “The whole atmosphere has changed,” says Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland, regarding the jail.

“This is just one of the ways we are trying to counter crime and repeat offenders, to break that cycle,” Rowland says of the InsideOut Dad® program.

Centerstone, the organization that works with Maury County Jail, also works with inmates on reentry issues—getting inmates ready for life outside of jail. Centerstone works with the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance on finding employment for inmates before their release along with finding suitable housing, reports Christen.

“We are helping them think dutifully about when they get out, where they are going to go and what they are going to do to help them stay out,” Loging says.

Christen reports, the first inmate to have completed the course will be released on parole this coming November. 

“If we can get them stable and get them back into a rhythm of good choices and a good life, being part of a good family, then we are able to pull them in and say ‘now you see what good choices can do and how easy it is to become a better father,’” Loging said.

Centerstone plans to expand the program by bringing in community leaders and successful graduates of the course to lead classes, Scott says.

We couldn't be more excited about the impact Maury County Jail is having on connecting fathers to families. Thank you, Centerstone. We look forward to hearing the stories of InsideOut Dad® alumni coming back to teach sessions and change more lives.

Please read the full story here



Whether you work in corrections or are interested in volunteeting to teach dads, download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.

The Father Factor Blog

Please Help NFI Provide Free Education and Resources

As you consider the charities to support by the end of the year, please consider donating to National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). 

One of the primary ways NFI helps improve child well-being is to provide the free education and resources that fathers and the organizations that serve fathers need to increase father involvement. We need your financial support to provide free education and resources and, in particular, to continue to grow the number of free resources we provide that now number more than 100. Fathers and organizations that can’t afford to pay for resources turn to NFI for help. We want—indeed, we must—continue to help the fathers and organizations most in need.

The demand for free resources is great. Many fathers and organizations have accessed those resources through our website. More than 25,000 free resources have been downloaded, used, and shared since the start of 2013!

Your donation will help us continue to provide new free resources and improve current ones. We plan, for example, to make our free FatherSOURCE  Locator even better. This free resource helps fathers locate organizations in their communities that serve fathers. We regularly receive calls and emails from fathers and their loved ones desperate to find help in their communities. We need donations to upgrade the locator to include more organizations—and provide even more information about the kinds of resources organizations provide (e.g. fatherhood programs)—so that fathers can make more informed decisions about which organizations can best help them. No other organization provides this father-serving resource. Help us make it even better!

We also need your donation to continue as the nation’s leading voice on responsible fatherhood. Your donation will help us continue to educate fathers and the general public. It will help us disseminate research on the causes and consequences of father absence, conduct interviews with national media outlets, publish commentaries on NFI-owned and third party media properties (e.g. The Huffington Post), and partner with major entertainment media and consumer brands to portray a positive image of fathers. No other fatherhood organization has this broad educational, cultural focus.

Please consider making a year-end donation to NFI of at least $100. We will make the best use of your donation. Indeed, I’ve committed to increasing the amount of every donation that goes toward education, programs, and services. We’ve steadily increased that amount during the past several years so that we use 80 cents of every $1 to educate and equip fathers and organizations. Moreover, NFI has received GuideStar’s Gold Participant designation—GuideStar’s highest designation—that highlights our commitment to transparency.

If you need more information as you consider making a donation, click here for an infographic that describes exactly how we will stretch your donation to improve child well-being. You can mail your donation or make it through our website at

Did you know that NFI provides more free education and resources on fatherhood than any organization in the country?

Did you know that NFI accepts no government funding and relies on donations to provide free education and resources?

The Father Factor Blog

This Dad Energizes Halloween for Kids in Wheelchairs

Some dads are, in a word, awesome! And then there are some dads who take awesome to another level. 

Ryan Weimer, an Oregon father of five, takes awesome to another level through his non-profit Magic Wheelchair. Magic Wheelchair makes Halloween costumes for children bound to wheelchairs. The mission of Magic Wheelchair is "to give kids in wheelchairs an unforgettable Halloween by creating custom costumes for them at no expense to their families." The non-profit's vision is "to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming their wheelchairs into awesomeness created by our hands and their imaginations." Every year, Magic Wheelchair selects five children for whom it builds costumes. 

I saw a story on the news the other day about Magic Wheelchair and was blown away. The costumes--which are amazing to behold--incorporate the wheelchairs. A costume surrounds a wheelchair and the child as if the costume had been an integral part of the wheelchair all along. But what really blew me away is how Ryan, with help from his wife Lana, used his considerable design and engineering talent to turn a life-altering event into an opportunity to help children. The life-altering event was the birth of Ryan and Lana's son Keaton who was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA. (Their younger son, Bryce, also has SMA, and they lost a daughter with the condition shortly before she turned 3. Another son died at birth.)

You can read more about the genesis of Magic Wheelchair in this story, but the long and short of it is Ryan started to experiment with ways to make Halloween special for Keaton. Through trial and error, he learned how to create the costumes. Keaton loved them, and Ryan realized that other children like his son would love them, too. So he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to start Magic Wheelchair. And the rest, as they say, is history--a wonderful history, in this case.

To learn more about Magic Wheelchair, including how to submit a request for a costume or to support the organization, visit their website.

The Father Factor Blog

Two Supports Lacking for U.S.Children in Poverty

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

The effects of father absence and the poverty that results from it are exacerbated by two supports lacking in the U.S. -- the lack of extended family and the dismal spending by the federal government on family-benefit programs.

I wrote in this blog last week about the link between father absence and child poverty. The U.S. Census Bureau's recent report on income poverty for 2014 reveals that:

  • Children in father-absent homes experienced poverty at more than four times the rate of children in married-parent homes.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 children in father-absent homes (46.5 percent) were in poverty compared to only 1 in 10 children (10.6 percent) in married-parent homes.
  • The picture is worse for the youngest children. More than 1 in 2 children under age six in father-absent homes (55.1 percent) were in poverty.

I pointed out that increasing the number of children growing up with their two married parents is key to reducing child poverty in this country.

Data provided in the just-released 2015 World Family Map helps explain why U.S. children in particular need to grow up with their married parents. The World Family Map -- an annual report now in its third year -- monitors the global health of families by tracking 16 indicators in 49 countries, representing all regions of the world. Its global focus provides an important perspective on how well, or poorly, the U.S. fares on a range of indicators of family well-being.

When it comes to poverty, families can typically turn to any of three sources for financial and material support -- their social network including extended family, non-governmental organizations (e.g. non-profits) and government programs. The level of support available from each source varies dramatically from country to country and even within some countries. It's vital to consider these supports to gain a clearer understanding of the extent of poverty's negative effects on children.

The 2015 World Family Map includes data on two of those supports -- the proportion of children who live with extended family members (kin) and government funding of family-benefit programs (i.e. cash, services and tax measures) as a percentage of a country's gross domestic product (GDP). How does the U.S. fare on these two indicators?

  • The proportion of U.S. children living with kin (29 percent) ranks 5th lowest among the 32 countries for which data are available. Only Canada, France, Italy and Ireland rank lower.
  • The U.S. government spends a paltry 0.7 percent of GDP on family-benefit programs. That percentage is dead last among the 21 countries for which data are available, and is 36% and 42 percent lower than Mexico and Canada (the other two countries in the North American region), respectively.

Extended family is perhaps the oldest form of support for humans struggling to survive. In addition to financial and material support, extended family can provide emotional and spiritual support in times of crisis and chronic hardship. It's easiest to access that support when kin live together -- the basis of this indicator -- or close by. The increasing mobility of U.S. families and the resulting distance between family members makes it harder to access this support.

When it comes to government support, the sad fact is the U.S. spends a lower percentage of GDP now than it did just a few years ago when it ranked above several other countries rather than at the bottom of the barrel. According to the 2013 edition of the World Family Map, the U.S. spent 1.2 percent of GDP on family-benefit programs. (The 2015 map relies on data from 2011 while the 2013 map relies on data from 2007.)

To be fair, there might be several of the other countries in the World Family Map for which data are not available on either indicator that fare worse than the U.S. So in reality, the picture might not look as bleak for the U.S. in comparison. The access to extended family indicator does not include access to family close by. But even when considering kin who live together, the U.S. has seen a dramatic rise since 1980 in the number of individuals living in multi-generational households, thus giving the poor more of this support. The U.S. is also a fairly charitable nation as it ranks 9th on the World Giving Index, a measure of the percentage of people in 135 countries who donate to charities. There are certainly non-profits to which poor families in the U.S. can turn for help.

Nevertheless, the World Family Map reveals the lack of financial and economic assets poor families in the U.S. can access to alleviate at least some of the negative effects of child poverty. A vast majority of individuals in the U.S., more than 8 in 10, are not in multi-generational households. And the government spending data on family-benefit programs, with its downward trend, sheds light on the lack of importance our country places on government help for those most in need.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Becoming Better Fathers – And Father Figures

We’ve seen the staggering statistics regarding fatherless many times. John Sowers, in his book, Fatherless Generation, links fatherlessness to:

  • 63 percent of youth suicides;
  • 71 percent of pregnant teenagers;
  • 85 percent of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders;
  • 71 percent of all high school dropouts;
  • 75 percent of all adolescents in chemical abuse centers;
  • And 85 percent of all youths sitting in prison.

Lord knows we need more men to step up to be better fathers. Most of the posts on The Father Factor are about just that—fantastic resources for all of us men to become better fathers to our children. This post is slightly different. 

My former posts here about building strong children, and about healing our own father wound were focused on us as fathers. This post is a heartfelt plea to consider becoming a father-figure to a fatherless child (or younger man) who is not your own biologically.

I met Ricks only one week after he and his mother came from Liberia to the United States. They had spent the last nine years in Liberian refugee camps, and they arrived with only the clothes on their backs and one small backpack. Ricks was twelve years old then. He’s 21 today.

In the years between, I’ve been a close friend to his family, and an informal mentor to him. Ricks seems to feel I’ve filled a father-figure role in his life. I received this beautiful text message last year from him: “Keith, thank you for being such an important person in my life. Happy Father’s Day.”

Though a mentor is not a father, and can never replace a missing father, we can make a significant impact and fulfill a desperately needed role in a young man’s or young woman’s life who doesn’t have a dad to relate to, communicate with, or receive love and guidance from.

All children yearn for their missing father, and that hunger never goes away. A committed and loving mentor cannot fully remove that hurt, but we can lessen the negative impact, and we can point kids in the right direction, not only potentially changing the course of that child’s life but also positively impacting society.

A beautiful Jewish teaching says, “To save one life is to save the world.” A profound privilege of mentoring is that by reaching one child, we can change the world. The impact and the effects can be as satisfying for the mentor as they are for the young men and women whose lives may be forever transformed. 

As a youth pastor for ten years, I mentored hundreds of high school students, many of whom had poor or no relationships with their fathers. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but I fulfilled a father figure role for many of those students, showing them what a father could be and helping them experience what a father’s love and approval could feel like.

As a founding board member and fatherhood trainer for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in Texas for six years, I coached over 600 incarcerated men. I taught them how to reconnect with their kids whom most had abandoned, and how to learn to be better dads, even while still behind bars. I loved being a father figure mentor to these men, teaching them the essential fathering skills that became the core content of my book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.

The skills of becoming a great mentor are fundamentally the same as those for becoming a great dad. I teach the men I now coach and mentor this simple and yet highly effective skill set: Affirmation, Acceptance, and Affection.

If every father and mentor would commit to learning these three easy-to-master skills, the entire world would become a better place. And millions of fatherless children would finally feel the love and receive the guidance they desperately need not only to survive this life, but to find their way, to succeed, and to enjoy healthy and loving relationships—most of which may remain out of reach without the skilled mentoring you and I can provide. 

I applaud the wonderful work Esquire is doing through their Mentoring Project, seeking to raise the next generation of good men by training 100,000 new mentors by the year 2020. Perhaps you could become one of them.

A mentor is not a father, and doesn’t even have to be a (biological) father, but we can stand in the gap and provide the missing love and guidance children not only need but also crave. And believe me, I know first-hand that doing so is one of the most fulfilling experiences of life. I’ve trained hundreds of men how to affirm children, how to express acceptance, and even how to show affection in appropriate and meaningful ways.

You can become a great mentor by learning and applying the same fundamental skills that help me be a loving father figure to Ricks and a great dad to my own three teenage sons. I want you to feel the same joy in your heart I feel in mine, and to smile from ear to ear the way I do, when I read Father’s Day gratitude messages each year from all four of my sons. I’d love to help you. Please check out my completely free training videos today.

Have you ever mentored another dad or a child?

Free Resources for Mentoring:

The Father Factor Blog

Stats at top of this post are reported in John Sowers, Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 36-37.

Dads Hold Key to Reducing Child Poverty

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

The presence of married fathers in children's lives remains the most vital factor in reducing child poverty. Here's why.

Dads Hold Key to Reducing Child Poverty

The U.S. Census Bureau just released its report on income and poverty for 2014. The good news or bad news, depending on your perspective, is the overall rate for adults and children living in poverty did not change, from a statistically significant perspective, compared to 2013. In 2014, 13.5 percent of people aged 18 to 64 (26.5 million) were in poverty compared with 10.0 percent of people aged 65 and older (4.6 million) and 21.1 percent of children under age 18 (15.5 million). Children represented 23.3 percent of the total population and 33.3 percent of the people in poverty. It's disturbing that children represent more than a third of the people in poverty, especially because they have no control over their economic situation.

Because this proportion of the population in poverty includes all children regardless of family status, it's necessary to dig deeper into the data to reveal why fathers remain key to reducing child poverty. Fortunately, the Census Bureau digs that deeply. The bureau's analyses of the data reveal that: 

  • Children in father-absent homes experienced poverty at more than four times the rate of children in married-parent homes.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 children in father-absent homes (46.5 percent) were in poverty compared to only 1 in 10 children (10.6 percent) in married-parent homes.
  • The picture is worse for the youngest children. More than 1 in 2 children under age six in father-absent homes (55.1 percent) were in poverty.

These disturbing, depressing numbers show that the mere presence of more married fathers in children's lives will, from a population-based perspective, reduce child poverty. 

The only effective, long-term solution to increasing the proportion of children growing up with their married parents is to change cultural norms on the importance of living in a married-parent home for child well-being. The federal government has, with bipartisan support, tried to help by funding healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood programs. But no matter how successful these programs might be or eventually become in helping the children, parents and families they serve, they can't possibly serve enough people to affect the kind of culture change necessary to move the needle. Besides, the level of funding for this effort is minimal as it must compete for dollars with the many other and, frankly, important functions of government, such as funding the social safety net, infrastructure, education and research that are vital to create the vibrant economy in which all families can thrive. As a result, these programs, though important, have only scaled to a level that help some children and families at the highest risk for poverty.

Unfortunately, cultural norms on the importance of children growing up in a married-parent home have been headed in the wrong direction for years. Marriage among the young (age 18 to 32 years) has dropped like a stone during the last four generations, from 65 percent of people in the Silent Generation to 26 percent of Millennials. Moreover, a quarter of all adults age 25 or older have never been married, an all-time high. When they do marry, the average age at first marriage is also at an all-time high of 29.3 for men and 27.0 for women.

As a consequence of these and other trends, a higher proportion of children than ever are born to parents who aren't married. The unfortunate fact is we don't have the cultural will to reverse course. Too many people now see the purpose of marriage as one in which personal fulfillment is paramount and the primary if not sole role of marriage. Marriage has become about "me" and not "we" or "us," as in "family." While it is important that people feel fulfilled in marriage, the problem is far too many of us have separated marriage from its function of providing the ideal environment in which to raise healthy children and, thus, deny its impact on child well-being to the extent that we focus only on personal well-being. 

Can we do anything to reverse course? There is a vigorous debate about whether we should give up and say bye-bye to marriage, if not altogether at least to the importance of it as a vital institution. As I've written elsewhere, we can't give up on marriage. We must start by looking at it in a different way -- not as a zero-sum game between whether its role is personal fulfillment or to raise healthy children, but as an institution that can and should fulfill both roles.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

How to Raise a Human or a Vampire

I enjoyed the first Hotel Transylvania movie as much as my daughters. The monsters crack me up. They're back with a second round of monster fun in Hotel Transylvania 2. In screening this film, I laughed out loud at the comedy between parents and grandparents. Watching this movie reminded me of two areas I want my daughters to know are important as little humans.

hotel transylvania 2

We talk a lot at NFI about the vital role a dad plays in his child's life. We know the Father Absence Crisis in America is real because we see its affect every day. We see the challenges a child faces growing up in a father-absent home—from education and health, to crime and incarceration.

It's important to know the research on father absence. Equally as important is the example we set as involved, responsible, and committed dads. 

In Hotel Transylvania 2 (HT2), we don't see an absent father, thankfully. We see Drac, a caring, present father (voiced by Adam Sandler) and the relationship with his daughter, Mavis. Yes, Drac is protective. But, as dads, we just call being protective love! 

In HT2, Drac’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed. He has opened his doors to human guests. But, Drac is worried that his half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. 

So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with her human husband, Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg), Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp. Drac has five days to "scare the fangs" out of Dennis to prove he's a vampire. 

hotel transylvania 2

Watching Drac try several things to "scare the fangs" out of Dennis made me think about what I want my daughters to know in order to be grow into adults. My oldest daughter recently reminded me she will be 18 and her sister will be 16 in ten years. Can you say scary?

With this in mind, I feel a renewed sense of urgency to teach my girls what's really important. These things are my idea of "scaring the fangs" out of them. Work with me here.  I want my daughters to see me set an example, showing them that education and health are a priority.

The Importance of Education

I want my girls to know, and see by example, that education is important. What does this look like? My daughter is in elementary school and her teacher has told her to read 20 minutes per day. At home, I need to this by reading books and being a person who cares about learning.

Whether it's teaching your little vampire to fly, as in the case of Drac, or instilling the importance of education into your little one. We know from experience and the research tells us, without an involved dad, a child is two times more likely to drop out of high school. Education is important. Hopefully, my daughters see this in the home. At NFI, we think one of dad's chief roles is to teach. This assumes you will constantly be learning about how to parent better, how to communicate well, care for yourself, and learning relationship skills. Doing these things will set the example for your child and set them up for success.

The Importance of Health

Health can mean mental and physical here. If you have a problem with your mental health, it will show up in your body. Likewise, if you have a problem with the health of your body, it will affect your mind and how you see the world. Research tells us that fathers and their example of health is vital to the health of their child. The child of a dad who is obese is two times more likely to suffer obesity.

Think about that. If you, dad, are obese, your child probably will be. The opposite must be true. If you are fit, your child is more likely to be fit. I can't think of a better reason to be on guard with my health and fitness. My kids are watching me. Your kids are watching you.

There's a funny scene in HT2 where Dennis' mom, Mavis, packed him an avocado to eat. An avocado as snack doesn't seem to register to Drac just like it may not with your own parents. This scene reminded me how far we've come in terms of diet from our parents' and grandparents' generation to today.

Without getting mired in the whole diet debate, consider the following baseline questions related to health so as to keep yourself in check and set the proper example for your child:

  • Do you workout at least weekly? Do you have an "active" lifestyle?
  • How are your eating habits?
  • How much sleep did you get last night? Is that typical? Is it enough sleep?
  • Would your child describe you as "happy"? Your answer is telling either way!
  • What does your house look like? Full of clutter or nice and neat?
  • Do you leave work at work?
  • Do you volunteer on some level to help others? How often?
  • Do you have a hobby? When's the last time you enjoyed your hobby?

These are just a few questions we ask dads in our programs. Answering them will give you personal insight into your level of stress and reveal your overall health. I want my daughters to understand the importance of health. They are more likely to do this if their dad is leading by example.

So, whether you're raising a human or a vampire, if they live with the example that education and health are important and have an involved, responsible and committed dad in these areas, they will likely succeed—or at the least—not turn into monsters.  

Click here to get the Sneak Peek of Hotel Transylvania 2. In theaters September 25th. Follow Hotel Transylvania 2 online, on facebook and on twitter.

Hotel Transylvania 2 has been rated PG by the MPAA for the following reasons: some scary images, action, and rude humor. It's in theaters September 25th.

The Father Factor Blog

Spotlight > Fighting for Fathers in Mobile, Alabama (Video)

Fighting crime and the high incarceration rates takes leaders who are willing to fight for fathers. In Mobile, Alabama, they have the answer to crime and incarceration...teach dads how to be better dads. In this post, watch how several inmate fathers in Mobile County Health Department's Fatherhood Initiative Program are learning how to connect to their families.

The father absence crisis in America is real. The crisis of Fathers Behind Bars is real too. The stats for fathers behind bars are:

  • 2.7 million children have a parent in prison or jail.
  • Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents in prison are fathers. 
  • 650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
  • Two-thirds of ex-offenders, or 429,000, will likely re-offend within three (3) years.

Christopher Sasser (seen in the video below) is one of several inmates taking part in Mobile County Health Department's Fatherhood Initiative Program. It's the first time our InsideOut Dad® Program has been used in the metro jail. 

mobile county metro jail

"I didn't have a father. I met my father and three days later he died," says Sasser. 

InsideOut Dad® is designed to break the cycle and put the father back in a child's life.

Can't view the video? Watch here.

"It's more likely if the father is missing that child is going to be incarcerated, have problems in school...this (InsideOut Dad®) is all about rehabilitation and helping someone get back on point." —Harold Jones, Outreach Educator

Please watch the video and consider how you can help fathers connect to their family today.



Whether you work in corrections or are interested in volunteeting to teach dads, download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.

The Father Factor Blog

Spotlight > Washington State Dept of Corrections Teaches Fathers from Prison [Video]

I often complain about all that's broken with America's "corrections" system. But, after seeing this video, I know one correctional officer living up to the title. Imagine a uniformed correctional officer getting off work, changing into his normal street clothes, and then volunteering to teach dads how to be better dads from prison. That's who you will meet in this post. Read and watch how Washington State Department of Corrections is connecting father to family.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-24_at_3.32.58_PMYou know about the father absence crisis in America and you know a big part of this crisis is Fathers Behind Bars, but here's a few reminders:

  • There are 2.7 million children with a parent in prison or jail.
  • Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents in prison are fathers. 
  • 650,000+ ex-offenders are released from prison every year.
  • Two-thirds of ex-offenders, or 429,000, will likely re-offend within three (3) years.

This problem is one the Department of Corrections in Washington State is addressing. On any given evening, you'll find dads meeting to talk fatherhood and family.

"There's no facilitators. There's no students. What it is is 16 participants trying to become better dads and learning about ourselves." —Joseph Nunan (Correctional Officer, Washington State Penitentiary)

Can't view the video? Watch here.

Derrick Jones, an offender in the Washington State Penitentiary says of the Inside Out Dad® Program:

Primarily, the program is really geared toward men learning to communicate. Really, learning how to communicate with our children, learning how to communicate with ourselves, reflect back on our past, and try to understand why I think the way that I think.

The InsideOut Dad® Program is offered at several prisons in Washington State. The goal of the program is to offer the skills that fathers in prison need to help connect them to their children and families—both while in prison and once released.

We are encouraged by Officer Nunan and what he has to say:  

What the program does is to let the inmates know why they're there, to make them understand what happened to them to get there, and to be able to say you've got things to offer to your children. 

Can you imagine the sense of purpose this can give to father behind bars? To understand that he matters. That he can correct mistakes made in life. That he can work to restore what may be broken in his family or with his child.

The video shows John Radzikowski, a volunteer, explain the importance of having a program like InsideOut Dad® for inmates:

The prison culture itself does not allow for men to talk about their children in an intimate way. What this has done is we can together collectively to talk about our parenting, and not only our parenting skills, but also if we had parents in our own lives. And what that led to is dealing with issues of the heart.

In the West Complex, the correctional officers who volunteer for InsideOut Dad® come in plain clothes, during non-work hours, and they volunteer their time to help these dads become better fathers.

Officer Nunan says of the program:

We can see a direct correlation between this course and the inmate attitudes on the outside of this course...There's a positivity in there (during a program session) that I never expected. And it's something that should be harnessed and encouraged to grow.

We agree with you, Officer Nunan. This program should be encouraged to grow!



Whether you work in corrections or would like to volunteer leading dads to be better dads, you can download the free sample > InsideOut Dad®

InsideOut Dad® is the nation's only evidence-based fatherhood program designed specifically for incarcerated fathers. Please consider volunteering to help connect father to family.

The Father Factor Blog

Netflix's New Parental Leave Policy Lacks Teeth

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

While we should applaud Netflix's recent announcement of paid parental leave of up to one year for moms and dads after the birth or adoption of a child, it lacks the teeth and innovation necessary to encourage dads to take full advantage of this progressive policy and for Netflix to reap its full potential.

Netflix's policy is good for dads, families and our country. It sends a strong message in a country that's far behind others in providing paid parental leave, especially to dads. It recognizes that dads:

  • Spend more time than ever in the daily care of their children.
  • Provide more care to their children after they return to work when they the take more time off from work after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Are more conflicted than moms in their attempt to balance work and family.
  • Are more likely than moms to scale back at home when they experience family demands and work overload.

Perhaps most important, it recognizes that more involved dads increase the well-being of children, mothers, families and communities.

Netflix's policy is also good for Netflix. Many dads fear taking advantage of parental leave and other work-family benefits. Despite these fears, when dads balance work and family, they are more productive employees who advance farther and faster in their careers. Involved dads--especially Millennial dads--are less fearful of the impact of balancing work and family. They demand jobs that provide paid parental leave. This demand from the newest dads is why it's no surprise that tech companies like Netflix lead the way in providing paid parental leave.

The challenge for Netflix is how to encourage dads to take full advantage of this policy. Dads are not moms. They require efforts that speak specifically to them--that meet their needs and wants as dads broadly and within the context of work-family balance. Dads are much less likely than moms to take parental leave. While 90 percent of dads in the U.S. take some time off from work, most of them take a week or less off.

To help their dads and the company, Netflix must give the policy the teeth it needs. Netflix must proactively encourage dads to take time off. Nothing in Netflix's announcement--or other commentary on the potential challenges of successfully implementing this policy--suggests that it is anything but a passive one. It lacks innovative tactics--any tactics, for that matter--that will give it a better chance to hold value and succeed with dads. This failure to recognize the need for an innovative, proactive effort to encourage dads to take full advantage of the policy is somewhat surprising given that Netflix is synonymous with innovation and the testing of tactics and approaches that disrupted and transformed how Americans consume movies and television shows.

Netflix must develop a campaign for dads that it constantly tests and refines (e.g. using a Lean Startup approach). The campaign must include, at a minimum:

  • Messages for dads, delivered through multiple internal channels and with enough frequency to be effective, that address the fears some dads may have about taking full advantage of the policy, such as it might hurt their career prospects or their job duties will suffer in their absence. These messages must include a value proposition that resonates specifically with dads.
  • Resources that educate dads (before and after the birth or adoption) about how to be involved dads, such as referrals to websites, brochures and other print materials, and on-site workshops/seminars that provide fathering education.
  • Ways to measure the impact of the policy on dads. Netflix must track the impact of the policy, such as the rate at which dads use the policy at all and, if so, how much leave they take. Netflix must analyze the data in a way that identifies the kinds of dads who do and don't take advantage of it using demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics. Netflix must also gather qualitative feedback from dads on the impact of the policy and on the effectiveness of the campaign.

Netflix must also involve dads in shaping the campaign and delivering elements of it. The company should, for example, consider forming an interdepartmental team of dads at different levels of the company to help develop and evaluate potential tactics. It should use dads who work at Netflix as spokespersons to deliver messages that contain the value proposition.

Netflix must approach this effort from the consumer-based mindset that has led to so much of its success. The dads who work at Netflix are, after all, the consumers of its policies. Dads have different needs than moms when it comes to being parents and balancing work and family. They deserve the same dedication to the effective use by dads of this policy that their company makes to create the algorithms that meet the entertainment tastes of its diverse external customers.

The Father Factor Blog This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Research to Application: Cognitive Biases

In the third installment in this series (Framing and the “No Choice Option”), we introduced you to the work of Daniel Kahneman in which he captures the research on the cognitive biases humans suffer from in making decisions, regardless of the decisions they make.1 He describes how we rely on two cognitive systems when making decisions. System 1 “operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.” We often call it our “gut instinct.” System 2 “allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations” and involves deliberate choice. We often call it our “rational side.”

We primarily rely on System 1 to make most of our decisions. Unfortunately, it often leads us astray and gets us into trouble. The reason it leads us astray is that it relies on rules of thumb that give us a starting point from which to base our decisions. The problem is these rules of thumb can bias our thinking in ways that lead to poor decisions in many instances because we don’t spend adequate time and energy thinking through those decisions. 

This installment focuses on how you can use the knowledge of cognitive biases to improve your work with fathers. While the number of biases is large, this installment focuses on several of the most common ones you might encounter in your work with fathers.

research-to-application-cognitive-biasesConfirmation Bias

The confirmation bias refers to people’s tendency to seek evidence that supports their current views. People naturally want reassurance that their views are correct. They don’t typically challenge their own views by seeking evidence to disprove them. It’s threatening to people’s sense of whom they are to admit when they’re wrong. That threat makes the confirmation bias one of the most potent cognitive biases in work with fathers because most fathers don’t actively look for evidence that their views might be wrong. If they rely primarily on punishing their children rather than disciplining them, for example, they won’t look for evidence that they should use punishment as a last resort, not a first option.

When fathers suffer from the confirmation bias, it can be difficult to introduce new concepts about how to be a good father. Using the punishment versus discipline example once again, fathers can find it difficult to swallow the notion that guiding and teaching their children with effective discipline techniques is more effective, and better for their children’s overall well-being, than taking away cherished privileges or using corporal punishment. 

Availability Bias

The availability bias refers to people’s tendency to recall information that is most readily available. It causes people to overestimate the probability that events will occur. Child abductions and plane crashes, for example, tend to generate lots of coverage in the mass media. As a result, people commonly overestimate the frequency of child abductions and plane crashes.

When fathers suffer from the availability bias, it can be difficult to know the accuracy of the information they provide. That difficulty is not caused by a conscious decision on the part of fathers (e.g. they lie) but because they don’t know they might be misled by their most recent experiences. If you ask a father how happy he is in his relationship with the mother of his children, for example, his answer will most likely hinge on the nature of the most recent experiences with her—perhaps even the most recent one—not on the breadth of the experiences with her over the course of the relationship. If the most recent experience was a poor one, he will be more likely to say he is unhappy, and vice versa, than he is.

Hindsight Bias

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “hindsight is 20/20,” which refers to our ability to more clearly evaluate a choice after it happens, and know the outcome of that choice, than before we made the choice. The problem with that phrase is it’s misleading. It assumes that we should have known, or did know all along, what would happen even though we could not possibly or accurately predict the outcome.

This hindsight bias refers to people’s tendency to create narratives (stories) about past events so they can make sense of unpredictable outcomes. Regardless of how sound decisions made or processes put in place were at the time of the choice, this tendency causes people to more readily blame good decisions and processes related to poor outcomes than give credit to good decisions and processes related to good outcomes, a bias all its own called the outcome bias. In other words, people have difficulty understanding that good decisions and processes can result in unpredictable, poor outcomes just as easily as they can lead to unpredictable, good outcomes.

When fathers suffer from the hindsight bias, it can be difficult to help them understand that they are not necessarily to blame (or to blame as much) for specific outcomes. When a father assesses a failed relationship with the mother of his children, for example, he might disproportionately attribute the failure to himself or to her. Perhaps he made mostly good decisions as they tried to work through their issues, but factors beyond his control had a major contribution to the failed relationship. The father may think he knew all along that the relationship was headed to a poor conclusion when he didn’t know and couldn’t have known the outcome. 

On the other hand, when fathers suffer from this bias they take more credit than they deserve for good outcomes. A father might take more credit for raising a healthy, well-adjusted child, for example, than he gives to the mother.  He may say that his firm discipline was the key factor in how his child turned out when many other factors contributed just as much or more.

Ideas on Application

When it comes to working with fathers individually or in groups, you can use knowledge of cognitive biases to more effectively work with them. Here are a few general examples from which you can develop specific approaches or tactics that best fit the context in and fathers with whom you work:

  • Confirmation Bias: Knowing that many fathers will seek evidence to confirm their existing beliefs, attitudes, and behavior—and that they will resist changing the way they think and behave—better prepares you to work with fathers, especially on challenging topics such as masculinity, child discipline, and healthy relationships (e.g. communication with their spouse or partner). When you help fathers tackle these challenging topics, take extra care to prepare yourself for what can be a long process of change around certain issues.
  • Availability Bias: Knowing that many fathers will rely on recent events and experiences to shape the information they provide can help you broaden your thinking and approach to dig more deeply into what contributes to fathers’ thoughts and feelings. Ask probing questions to determine what fathers use as the foundation (evidence) for the information they provide. If a father says he is unhappy in his relationship with the mother of his children, for example, you can ask questions to determine whether he is narrowly framing his feeling based on a recent experience(s) with her or the breadth of the relationship. If the former, you can challenge him to re-evaluate his feeling based on the breadth of the relationship.
  • Hindsight Bias: Knowing that many fathers will create stories about past events to explain unpredictable outcomes, you could ask them, for example, to create timelines that include the decisions they made and processes they put in place and examine with them how much those decisions and processes contributed to good and bad outcomes. Help them evaluate the quality of the decisions and processes separate from the outcomes. In some cases, they might learn they should not abandon a good tactic to become a better father or partner, for example, just because it didn’t lead to the desired outcome. Help them understand that the good tactic becomes the means and the end—even though the father hopes it will lead to a good outcome—and that it might contribute to a good outcome the next time.

Regardless of how you apply the knowledge of cognitive biases, approach your effort as an experiment. Keep track of what works with fathers in general and with specific kinds of fathers (e.g. custodial and non-custodial) so that you can apply what works in future work with fathers one-on-one or in groups, and avoid what doesn’t work. 


As you consider using the knowledge of cognitive biases to improve your work with fathers, consider the following resources: 

  • The book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
  • The book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • The book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • The book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Don’t forget to look for more posts and reference guides in this series!

1) Research to Application > Cues, Triggers, and Nudges

2) Research to Application > Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

3) Research to Application > Framing and the "No Choice Option"

4) Research to Application > The Power of The "Deviant Dad"

5) Research to Application > Keystone Habits

Click here for the full PDF of the this post. 

(1) Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

About the "Research to Application" Series

As the nation’s #1 provider of fatherhood skill-building programs and resources, NFI provides guidance for practitioners and organizations on how they might be able to use to use the latest research on human behavior to enhance the effectiveness of their work with fathers. NFI provides this guidance in a series of blog posts called Research to Application: Guidance for Practitioners and Programs. The series is also available in the form of quick reference guides that you can download by clicking on the button at the end of the posts.

The series offers a platform for generating dialogue among NFI, organizations, and practitioners on ways that research can be applied to addressing pain points in serving fathers. This post is the sixth one in the series. It provides ideas on how you might integrate research on cognitive biases. Integrating this research could make you more effective in your work with fathers (e.g. facilitating a fatherhood program or working with fathers one-on-one).

If you implement any of the ideas in this post, or develop and implement your own ideas, please share them with us at We’ll use your experiences to update this guide so it is even more useful.

The Father Factor Blog > Where Fatherhood Leaders Go To Learn.

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