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The Father Factor

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Will you join the 12 Dollars, 12 Months, 12 Dads challenge?

We have exciting plans for 2013 to reach more dads, help more families, and advocate on behalf of responsible fatherhood - with the ultimate goal of improving child well-being and creating a world in which every child has a 24/7 Dad ℠.  But we need your help.

As we start 2013, will you join our 12 Dollars, 12 Months, 12 Dads challenge?  

It costs $12 to provide a dad with one of NFI's evidence-based fatherhood handbooks to help him build his fathering skills.  We are looking for 100 people to commit to donate $12 a month to help one dad every month.  If we reach that goal, together we will equip 1,200 extra dads in 2013 with resources to help them connect with their children heart-to-heart!

Finding Your Way - Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases

You work with a variety of Dads. And they've got questions or issues that they need help addressing. And sometimes they're issues you or your staff aren't sure how to answer. Or, frankly, it's just not your area of expertise. 

NFI's Community Mobilization Approach Workshop

This is a guest blog from NFI Senior Program Support Consultant, Ave Mulhern

Help Us Reach Dads and Help Kids Through Texting

Lessons Learned: Giving to Receive

One of the first Bible precepts that I learned in Sunday School as a small boy was that it is better to give than to receive. Now, as a little guy, I wasn’t a big fan of this concept, especially around my birthday and Christmas. In any case, a few days ago, I was thumbing through a recent copy of Forbes magazine and I came across an article by Michael Norton provocatively titled “Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness…If you give it away.”

Norton is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and he has been researching how changes in income impact well-being. For example, he recently asked 315 Americans to rank their happiness on a 100 point scale and predict how happy they would be if they made ten different incomes, ranging from $5,000 up to $1,000,000. So, for example, he found that those who made $25,000 a year predicted that their happiness would double if they made $55,000. But when he measured their actual happiness, the change was about 7%. Moreover, he found that once people reached the US median income (about $60,000), the happiness return on additional income was very small.

Ironically, he did discover one way to “buy” more happiness with your money: Give it away. He hypothesized that although making more money helps us accumulate more material things, it does little to give us what the research shows makes us happier—quality relationships with others.

To test his theory, he and his team did a little experiment. They approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money ($5 or $20) and told them that they had to spend the money by the end of the day. But half were instructed to spend the money on themselves while the others were told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Norton’s team learned that those who had to spend the money on themselves bought stuff like coffee and food. However, those who had to spend the money on others did things like donate to the homeless or buy a gift for a loved one.

So, who was happier? Yep, those who gave the money away. Interestingly, there was no difference in reported happiness between those who had to give $5 away verses those who gave $20 away. I guess when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.

So, why I am sharing all this? Maybe because it’s fundraising season and NFI needs you to give to us until you are in a state of joyous glee. Good guess, but nope. (Although, we certainly need the support and you can donate here. And, no gift is too large. :-))

Well, it is because I vividly recall that one of the early words that each of my kids uttered was “mine.” I seems that children are genetically wired to be self-focused and it’s a dads job to model and teach their children the joy that can be received from giving. And, you don’t need to wait until Sunday to start teaching. That is, if you can spare $5 bucks.

Have You Joined the Team?

We're pumped for the upcoming Acumen Solutions Family Fun Run/8k on October 17th in Arlington, VA. It's the culmination of our six week fit2father campaign, focusing on healthy fathers and families. And, it's a great opportunity to get involved and meet other individuals who support NFI and our issue.

Race registrations benefit NFI's programs and initiatives - like providing resources to military families and educating new dads. Even if you're not in D.C. or won't be able to make it, you can still register as a "virtual walker" and we'll receive the proceeds.

Register today and select National Fatherhood Initiative. Join our team and help us end father absence! See you on the 17th!

fit2father: Have You Taken the Pledge?

We recently launched the fit2father™ Campaign and got an overwhelming response! Dads and families across the country have pledged to take part in a six week campaign to improve their fathering skills and to get healthy.

fit2father™ is based around three key strategies/principles:
  • Condition - living an active lifestyle
  • Nutrition - making healthy choices
  • Connection - connecting fathers and families
Studies show that fathers have a significant impact on the health and well-being of their children. A father’s body mass index is directly related to a child’s activity level. Being fit and being a father go hand in hand.

For our main office and for those in the DC area, the fit2father™ campaign will culminate in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause. We are excited for fathers and families to come out and support the fatherhood movement. Not only will this benefit NFI, bit it will help fathers everywhere.

If you have not taken the pledge or are interested in a race in your area visit www.fatherhood.org/fit2father.

If you want to become part of the fatherhood movement become a Fatherhood Ambassador today! www.fatherhood.org/ambassadors

What's Happening Here at NFI

August is a busy month - people are cramming in their last vacations and kids are going back to school. Here at NFI, we've got lots going on as well - including some easy (and fun!) ways that you can join our movement to end father absence. Check it out:

Walk/Run with Your Family
Bring your family and join the NFI team for the Acumen Solutions One Mile Family Fun Run on October 17 in Arlington, VA. It only costs $25 to register and the registration fee benefits NFI! Learn more/sign up today.

Not in DC, but want to get involved and organize a walk in your area? Fill out this form and we'll send you info for starting your own local walk.

Attend our 24/7 Dad and InsideOut Dad Training
Since 2002, we've trained over 3,000 organizations in all fifty states to provide helpful programs and classes for fathers. On September 15-16, we're hosting our annual training in Germantown, MD (right outside of D.C.).

Check out how you/an organization in your community can get trained and educate dads at www.fatherhood.org/2010training.

Vote for Our Pepsi Refresh Project
We're in the running for $250,000 to support military families, but we can't do it without your votes. Click here to vote today (and please vote for our alliance partners, too!).

The "Sorry" Language of Love

In 1970, the buzz in Hollywood was about the romantic movie Love Story. The movie was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made stars and household names of the young actors Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw. Even if you haven’t seen the movie or don’t have it in your Netflix queue, you have most likely heard the famous line that MacGraw’s character uttered early in the film: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Now, I was preteen when I first heard this line and even then it didn’t sound quite right. Granted, I didn’t know much about relationships and romance but I had done enough wrong to those that I loved to detect a flaw in the logic—despite the poetry of the line. Sadly, I must dispute the words of philosopher William James who once said: “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” Unfortunately, given the power of pop culture and pop psychology, I think that many have embraced this absurd and convenient retort, especially those who have trouble with mea culpa.

I was reminded again of this line a few days ago when I came across a book by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas called: The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationship. You may be familiar with Chapman from his many books on “the five love languages” where he asserts that we generally like to receive love in one of five ways: acts of service, receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical touch. The problem is that we usually give love in the manner that we like to receive it and this may not be the right love language for one that we are seeking to love. In short, it’s the receiver, not the giver, who determines if an act is loving.

In any case, Chapman and Thomas have developed a similar model for the language of apology. They argue, rather convincingly, that an apology, just like giving love, is not really effective unless it’s expressed in terms appropriate for the receiver. Below are the languages of apology that they have discovered:
  • Expressing regret: “I’m sorry” may be the first words expressed in this apology language but you will need to clearly express what you are sorry for. For example, if you inappropriately spoke harshly to one of your kids and this is their language, you will need to be specific and say, “I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice at you.”

  • Accepting responsibility: This apology begins with the words “I was wrong” and then explains what was wrong with your behavior. For example, you would say to your spouse that you were wrong for not planning well enough to get home in time to pick up your children from school.

  • Making restitution: This apology language is focused on “making it right.” So, if you forget someone’s birthday, and this is his or her language, you can’t just say that you’re sorry. With a person who speaks this language, what they really want to know is “Do you still love me? and making restitution helps assure them that you do.

  • Genuinely expressing a desire to change your behavior: This apology needs to be linked to a plan to keep the behavior from occurring again. If this is a loved one’s apology language, in their world, apologizing without a sincere desire and demonstrated behavior to change is not apologizing at all.

  • Requesting forgiveness: For someone who speaks this language, the words “Will you please forgive me?” are critical. In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask to be forgiven.

I really believe that Chapman and Thomas are on to something here. A “love story” without apologies only happens in the movies. Indeed, love means always having to say you are sorry. Ironically, the title of the Love Story theme song, which won an Academy Award for best musical score, is “Where Do I Begin?” If you want to restore and/or maintain relationships with your spouse, the mother of your child, or your children, I suggest that you begin with an apology.

Support Military Families - Vote for our Pepsi Refresh Project!

A large portion of our work is devoted to supporting military families. Research shows that military children experience many of the same outcomes as kids living in father-absent homes.

You can help us give military families the support they need by voting for our Pepsi Refresh Project! We're in the running for $250,000 to support military families with critical resources to help them stay connected. But, we need your votes to win!

To vote:
Click here:
http://pep.si/aHtVfT.
Vote using Facebook
Vote using text message [text 101739 to Pepsi (73774)]

You can vote up to three times each day throughout August and voting for our project ends August 31st.

Help support our nation's military families by voting today. And don't forget to tell you friends, too!

The DC Sniper Story Revisited: Before the "Aftermath"

A few days ago, William Shatner, as part of his new A&E show called Aftermath, interviewed DC sniper, Lee Malvo. I have spoken and written about Malvo frequently over the years because his situation impacted me in several very personal ways.

First, at the time of the shootings, I had just moved from the Philadelphia area—the City of Brotherly Love—to the DC area. Now, Philly, despite the moniker, was no bastion of safety and security but at least we didn’t have to deal with snipers. I remember well that random activities like walking my dog, getting gas and loading groceries in the car became random acts of courage. It was indeed a very scary time that still haunts me a bit today.

Second, they caught Muhammad and Malvo sleeping at a rest stop in Maryland on Route 70. It turns out that this stop is the next exit up from my wife’s office. She is a family practice doctor in a little town called Myersville. It’s a very isolated and rural place and her office is just a “rock throw” from the highway. There’s a little BP gas station across the street from her office where she often fills her tank. You get the point…I have thanked God often that an alert trucker spotted Muhammad and Malvo’s car that October night.

Finally, I remember well the morning that the news reported Muhammad and Malvo had been caught. What especially caught my attention was that they said that the suspects were a 38 year-old man and a 17 year-old boy. I instinctively looked over at my 17 year-old son and thought: What would it take to turn him into someone who would shoot a woman in the face with no remorse? There’s a fatherhood story in here somewhere. Sure enough, a few days later, the Washington Post reported that they had found Lee Malvo’s father who had essentially abandoned him years ago. And the rest, tragically, is history.

In any case, what makes the Malvo story “news” now is that a celebrity is interviewing him and that he has suggested that there were supposed to be other snipers involved. That’s fine. But what makes this story important for me is what made it important years ago. Malvo’s story is less about crime than about how crime is connected to father absence.

“He was a kid who was brainwashed. He was a malleable teenager and lacking love in his life," Shatner said. "John Muhammad supplies the love and influences him to become a killer, and he becomes a coldblooded killer at the age of 17.”

Shatner’s statement is on point but it’s incomplete. Malvo had a mom who seemed to care about him but what he didn’t have was a loving father. Indeed, Muhammad did more than “supply” love. He became the father that Malvo longed for much of his young life. Of note, psychiatrist Diane Schetky, who served as an expert witness for the defense at Malvo's 2003 trial, quoted him as saying of Muhammad, “Anything he asked me to do I'd do. He knew I didn't have a father. He knew my weaknesses and what was missing.”

I often talk about “what was missing” in a child’s life—it’s a hole in a kid’s soul in the shape of his dad. Unfortunately, still today, Malvo shares a potential “weakness” with millions of other kids who are more at-risk to become prey for the many “Muhammads” of this world. However, these guys don’t always come as sniper trainers but rather as gang leaders, pimps and drug dealers who encourage children to sell their bodies and their souls.

It’s worth noting that a disproportionate number of Malvo’s fellow inmates tend to grow up in father absent homes. Despite this fact, we have done too little to address father absence in our nation. Indeed, most of the fatherhood programs that are committed to addressing this issue are grossly underfunded. I know that in NFI’s case, despite that great work that we have been doing to educate and inspire dads and the many testimonials from fathers, mothers and, even kids about the good work we do, it is a daily challenge to raise the needed funds for our important work. But, we press on because the stakes are high and we don’t have a fatherless kid to spare.

I suspect that Shatner’s Aftermath show will do well. Sadly, it seems that time and again we are more interested in the entertainment of the “aftermath” than what needs to be done beforehand to prevent it.

It's Time for 24/7 Dad...Second Edition

Here at NFI we're thrilled to release the second edition of our core fatherhood program - 24/7 Dad™. Used by over 500 organizations across the country - Head Starts, schools, workforce development programs, etc - 24/7 Dad™ gives men the fathering skills they need to be the dad their kids need them to be.

In the new edition, we've added more tools and notes to help facilitators easily run the program. Plus, there is new, relevant information - on topics co-parenting and communication skills - presented in an even more visually engaging format.

To find out more, visit www.fatherhood.org/247dadsecondedition. The program will be available to pre-order in August.

24/7 Dad™ is an important part of our efforts to equip men to be the best dads they can be. William, a 24/7 Dad™ graduate, says it best:

I’ve learned more from these classes than I learned in 33 years of living about being a man, owning up to responsibilities, and just being a dad. Being a dad is a wonderful thing when you really know what being a dad is all about. The 24/7 Dad™ program can teach you what being a dad is really all about.
William, Father of 3
24/7 Dad™ A.M. Graduate

But What If I Don't Want To Be A Dad?

NFI President's Roland Warren has recently responded to an article by Cord Jefferson entitled, "But What If I Don't Want To Be A Dad?," addressing the argument of "financial abortion."

Roland writes: Actions have consequences, and although a person can choose his actions, he cannot choose the consequences of his actions. When it comes to sex, one of the consequences can be a child. So if a guy wants to keep his wallet closed, I suggest that he keep his zipper closed, too.

Check out Roland's full response here at theroot.com.

Father's Day Rewind

We hope all you dads out there had a GREAT Father's Day! Here at National Fatherhood Initiative, we were celebrating our favorite holiday in a pretty big way. Here's our Father's Day Top Five:
  1. Chris Brown, our Senior VP, was trackside to honor three NASCAR drivers with Fatherhood Awards.

  2. President Roland C. Warren appeared on CNN, CNN.com, and BET talking about the important role dads play.

  3. News outlets across the country were buzzing about our work and about the issue of involved responsible committed fatherhood.

  4. We snacked on HIS Chips from Herr's and Dad's Root Beer thanks to our Father's Day partnerships with these great companies.

  5. President Obama spoke on the importance of fatherhood and the direction of his fatherhood and mentoring issues.
Click here to see a full recap of our Father's Day celebration, and check out our news feed to see what the media were saying about NFI and fatherhood this weekend!

Thanks for following us here on The Father Factor. We're committed to raising awareness about the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fathers and equipping our nation's dads to be the best fathers they can be!

Fun Father's Day T-shirts...Great Gift Idea!

Congrats to the winners of our Fibers.com t-shirt contest! Check out the winning designs:

Dad to the Bone



Definition of a Dad


Proud to be a Dad



$5 from your purchase of any of these shirts will go toward NFI's essential work of connecting fathers and families - so pick up one of these t-shirts for your dad's Father's Day gift! Check it out at www.fibers.com.

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