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The Father Factor

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Are you a New Dad? Tell Us Your Thoughts Today!

We're excited to partner with the fine folks over at What To Expect, the experts on all things mom and pregnancy. We are conducting a survey about pregnancy and baby's first year. We've heard from the moms, now we want to hear from the dads!

WTENFISurveyIf you're a new dad or dad-to-be, please take a moment to respond to a few questions. All of the opinions will be revealed soon in brand new infographic in partnership with the wonderful folks over at What to Expect. Don't worry, dads, we won't use names or faces for with your honest answers!

Questions on the survey range from number of children to asking about thoughts to questions like—well—we can't say too much or we'll mess up the survey. Just go take it, please! 

The PURPLE Crying Game [Infographic]

Now that I am going to become a new dad for the second time, I have been reflecting a little bit more on what it means to be a good dad. I have this feeling that when you have more than one child, then you are really a dad… As if just having one doesn't count yet.  

cryingbaby

So, I have been readin’ up on some new dad skills that I will have to re-employ come April (it’s been 3 years since my first son was an infant!), and I found some very helpful guidelines about crying. No, not my crying, the baby’s crying. Hey, that gives me an idea – I should write a guide about how to stop parents from crying during the toddler years.  

Anyway, have you ever heard of PURPLE crying? I hadn’t until I cracked open, once again, one of NFI’s Doctor Dad® fathering handbooks. PURPLE is a nice acronym to help you understand the types and times of non-stop crying in infants – the kind that is most frustrating and difficult for parents to deal with.  

P – Peak pattern (crying peaks at around 2 months, then lessens)

U – Unpredictable (crying for long periods can come and go for no reason)

R – Resistant to soothing (the baby may keep crying for long periods)

P – Pain-like look on face

L – Long bouts of crying (crying can go on for hours)

E – Evening crying (baby cries more in the afternoon and evening)*  

Then, of course, there is just routine crying, like when baby is hungry.  

So, how to respond to all these kinds of crying!? First and foremost, babies cry because they need something. Sounds simple, but in the heat of the moment, it is easy to think your baby is crying for no reason, or worse, just to personally annoy you! But once you accept that there is an actual reason for the crying, you can proceed productively.  

Enter the “Crying Baby Flowchart”!

This incredibly helpful diagram takes you through a step-by-step process to determine why your baby is crying and how you can help stop the crying. It comes complete with illustrations and clear instructions to make your new dad life much easier.

Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that you should never shake a baby for any reason. If things are getting way too frustrating, and no one else is around to come in for relief, make sure your baby is safe and then just walk away. Go in the next room. Sit down. Have a cold drink. Your baby is not going anywhere. When your blood pressure has come down a bit, head back in and give things another shot.  

So, do you have any great ideas on how to stop a baby from crying? What worked best for you?

*Learn more about the PURPLE crying program from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome

Hoping for “Style Points” With Baby #2

My wife and I are expecting our second child in April! Woo hoo! But…  

stork

Yes, there is a “but.” For some reason, I am more nervous about child #2 than I was about the first, who is almost 4 years old. Maybe it was the sheer excitement and novelty of a first child that overshadowed any fears or anxiety I may have had. I knew everyone would be stepping in to help. But now that my wife and I are “old hands” at this parenting thing, we won’t need any help with the second child, right?

Part of my anxiety about the coming baby could also stem from the fact that our first son, God bless him, was a VERY difficult baby. He cried all the time. He always had ear infections. He didn’t poop regularly. The list goes on.  

We love our son to death. He is a wonderful, funny, beautiful child. But he was a pain in the neck. And he still is VERY emotional.  

So, as April approaches, I am selfishly hoping for an “easy” baby. I know this wish will come back to haunt me. I am going to have the most difficult child ever. Therefore, it is best that I am prepared, and I understand baby “styles.”  

So, I cracked open a copy of NFI’s Doctor Dad™ Well Child Father’s Handbook, and turned to the page on “Temperament (Style).”  

Here is what I learned.  

It is important to know your baby’s temperament, because it is often a blueprint for what their personality will be for their whole life. I have seen this with our first son – he is very much the same child he was from day 1, just a more mature version.  

Knowing your child’s style will help you temper your expectations and avoid getting frustrated by their behavior. If you know you have a difficult child, when they act difficult it is a little easier to swallow. If you have an easy-going child and he is acting up, it could be an indication that he is getting sick, for example.  

So, here are the three main “styles” of babies:  

The Easy Child

  • This child can easily handle change, in both people and places.
  • This child is biological regular. He eats, pees, and poops on a regular schedule and without much fuss.
  • This child’s intensity level is mostly moderate. She doesn't need much to entertain or comfort her.

The Difficult Child

  • This child is the reverse of the easy baby. This child is “strong willed.”
  • This child finds change difficult and is biologically irregular. She eat, drinks, sleeps, pees, and poops whenever she does or doesn’t want to.
The “Slow to Warm Up” Child
  • This child is shy and is slow to warm up and adapt to change.
  • This child usually cries when faced with change, but the intensity is low and you can calm this child.  

My first son was indeed the difficult baby. Can the stork please deliver an easy one in April?  

What style was your baby? Do you have any advice on handling difficult babies? Please share!


Different Faces of Fatherhood

This post is from Torrey Maldonado. Torrey is a teacher and author with a passion for Young Adult & Middle Grade literature. His debut novel is based on his and his students’ struggles with masculinity, their dads, and has inspired Fatherhood series by bloggers, book clubs and in schools. Visit him online at TorreyMaldonado.com. Follow Torrey on Twitter @torreymaldonado. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines                             

My upbringing was similar to my dad’s.

As boys and tweens, we both were drowning, socially, academically—you name it. We both were on-course to becoming our dads. We both didn’t want that, but felt it was inevitable.

My father became his dad. I didn’t.

brooklynnycsubway

[image: iStockPhoto]

Today, I’m different than them, and my father told me before he died that he was proud of who I became.

Throughout my life, my father regularly disappeared. He routinely “disappeared” into jail. When he returned, he lived with us but “disappeared” into the streets, returned and “disappeared” into his bedroom. From daycare to my first gray hair, he consistently “disappeared” from doing fatherly things with my sisters and me. 

One song reminds me of him: Poppa was a Rolling Stone. He also was what people call a “hard rock”, usually tough-as-nails. Those are two more prominent memories of him: he either wasn’t around enough or came on too strong.

I’m describing my father, his father, and a lot of my friends’ fathers. If we toured my old neighborhood, you’d see the number of dads who “disappear” and who are “hard rocks” is so huge that if they sat on each other’s shoulders, a guy-ladder would tower into space. 

Is this way of being guys’ faults? Across the U.S. a stereotype of macho manliness is celebrated that puts down guys as effeminate if they’re open and affectionate. It’s not a current phenomenon; in 1963 Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons had a hit, Walk Like a Man. That song made “hard rock” manliness as stylish as it is today. Before that, music and other media stylized macho-manliness—cowboys in black-and-white movies, knights in fairy tales, and so on. For maybe centuries now, men have embraced a popularized masculinity while leaving women to be emotional caregivers.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects. A timeless rule there and in other tough neighborhoods is that the strong survive. Being a “hard rock” and projecting strength isn’t just stylish—it’s a survival tactic. In the 1980s, males felt they needed hard bravados as a flood of drug-activity made Life magazine call us “The Crack Capital of America.” Our neighborhood still has a major drug problem, which means males still need to project strength to avoid surrounding violence.

On one hand, the ethos “Walk Like a Man” helps guys survive; on the other hand, that prompts us to shelve being emotional caregivers. That motto helps continue what I call “The Boy Crisis” (the widespread retarding of male development—socially, academically, and professionally—by discouraging males from being affectionate and showing all sides of ourselves).  

I survived "The Boy Crisis"; my father didn’t. 

My dad didn’t marry women he impregnated; I married one woman, then we planned our parenthood. 

My father disappeared—physically and emotionally—on his children; I have one child for whom I am very present.

My dad was a “hard rock” 24/7; I work hard to show my daughter my soft-side, scared-side, and all-sides. 

I love my father despite the conscious and unconscious hurt that came from his absence and stoniness. His few good sides show in things I do.

One factor that helped me steer in a different direction was “Uncles.”

My mom introduced me to men who weren’t blood-related, but helped me weather storms of limiting messages about manhood. 

These “Uncles” were unlike my dad.

They didn’t disappear. They let me sit with them for as long as I wanted, and I did—sometimes just to watch them interact with each other and the world.

On the corner, my Puerto Rican Uncle Danny had only four fingers on one hand from a Vietnam-injury. He had the strongest handshake and the gentlest heart. (My mom hoped I would pick up his gentleness.) 

At a local garage, my African American Uncles—Archie and Joe—modeled routines, wearing their work-uniforms even afterhours. (My mom hoped I would embrace their solid work ethic). 

At the cleaners, my mobster-sounding Italian Uncle Carmine described females with complete respect (My mom hoped I would absorb his pro-feminism.).

These “Uncles” were different from each other, yet similar. 

They shared a common belief about fathering: Dads shouldn’t withdraw from their children, even if they leave their child’s mother. They said to admire males on TV or from the street, but to ultimately be you. They gave me “change”—probably fifty cents one day, one dollar another—but, wow, the comics, candies, and things I bought! 

It all added up. Despite my dad disappearing, my community in crisis, and societal pressures to conform, each man gave me more than “change”—they gave me safe spaces and guidance for me to change.   

They presented different sides of manhood and added the best of themselves to the best my father could model and I eventually created a mosaic of masculinity from their examples.  These “Uncles” helped me transform from an academically and socially drowning boy to becoming a celebrated teacher, a published novelist, and a present husband and father.

As a boy, I once told my mom that I wanted to be like my uncles—all of them—White, Black, and Latino. She said I could. I wondered how.  

In time, I learned a man doesn’t have to be one-sided. That idea drives my fathering and threads through my novel, Secret Saturdays. That idea is what made my upbringing similar to my father’s, but not my outcome. Our boys could benefit from fathers but if their dads disappear or model what ultimately stifles their growth, then positive “Uncles” are a great tool to ensure boys become men and fathers with many good sides to show.

For the Busy Parent > Room Renovations Under $100

The following is a post from Kristin Hackler. Kristin is a mother, author and journalist. She is also a regular contributor to eBay on home decoration, DIY and parenting-related topcis. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Even if you loved the style and color of your home when you first moved in, the most neutral of rooms can become eyesores over time. But with all the expenses of food, family and day-to-day living, it's hard enough to scraping together money for a new welcome mat, let alone remaking an entire living space. But, renovating a room doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can do quite a lot for less than $100.

for the busy parent room renovations under $100

Consider some of the following room renovation ideas, some of which cost nothing and others that will only lighten your wallet by a few bucks. You'll be surprised at what just a few simple changes can do.

Painting Outside of the Bucket
ebay paint ideas on a budget for parentPainting is the number one change you can make for the least amount of money, but have you considered going a step further and adding some interest to that new coat of Fisherman's Wharf blue? For a solid matte wall paint, consider adding texture by rolling stripes in a clear glaze or layering crinkled tissue paper between coats of paint for an old world look.

To apply:

  • Paint a small section of wall, then crumple a sheet of tissue paper, unfold it and press it against the wet paint, spreading it out with your fingers.
  • Paint over the tissue paper and repeat with the next section.
  • For added dimension, finish with an antiquing glaze.


What is that Accent?
Add interest around the room with repurposed accent pieces. It not only costs much less to use items picked up used at the thrift store or online, or even found around the home, it also impresses guests to see your creativity at work.

accent ideas from ebay for parents on budget

Some interesting repurposing ideas include:

  • an old crib railing attached to the wall for hanging pictures
  • an old louvered shutter attached to the wall as a letter holder
  • an old wooden ladder attached to the wall as a shelf
  • a wooden ladder as a long shelf by attaching shelving boards across the rungs
  • an antique wooden ironing board as a side table
  • spoons bent into hooks and screwed into to a 1 x 4 board attached to the wall for holding kitchen items
  • thin bookcases turned on their sides for instant benches with cubby space—cover with a strip of foam and decorative fabric for added comfort

Metal Works
From restoring old hardware to adding a touch of color here and there, a couple of small changes can make a big difference in a room. If you have a lot of hardware around your home such as door, cabinet and drawer knobs, hinges, light switches and socket panels, a layer of paint can clean them up quickly with little to no cost. But start with a fresh surface (and you may even prefer the bare look). 

how to remake doorknob ebay for parents on budgetAll you need to remove old paint is:

  • An old crock pot
  • Liquid laundry detergent

If you don't have a crock pot sitting around that you don't use anymore, you can usually find one for close to nothing at a thrift store. To remove the paint from your small hardware items, turn the crock pot on low, add water and a few tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent, and allow the hardware to sit in the solution overnight. In the morning, the paint will slip right off.

If your brasses are too bright, you could also use a matte black spray paint designed to work specifically with metal to turn your door knobs from bright brass to faux iron, or a brass darkening solution to give them an antique look.

Splashes of Color
Wall murals are another way to add a creative touch. Not only can you find free-form nature images that can add interest to a bare corner or wall, you can also use them to create temporary drawing stations for the kids. Removable chalkboards and whiteboards can be added to kids' rooms, kitchens and even the living room without worrying about how to cover it up when you have guests over.

writing on the wall how to make wall kids can write on ebay parent

Wallpaper can also add new life and character to a room, but enough to cover even one wall can get pretty pricey. Instead, you can add interest with small segments of wallpaper in eye-catching areas such as the back panels of bookshelves, the backsplash of a kitchen or framed and placed around the room in repurposed or upcycled frames.

Renovating a room doesn't have to mean shelling out big bucks for a few small changes. Instead, consider what you have and what you can repurpose to make a big difference with small changes.

What are some ways you've found to renovate a room at little to no cost? 

Father Facts are Pesky Things

We get a lot of inquiries here at NFI about “trends in fatherhood.” One of the most common “trends” people want to know about is the rising number of single fathers in the country. I hear this inquiry so often that I started to believe it was true, until I actually looked at the data.  

According to the US Census Bureau, 4.2 percent of children lived in “father only” homes in 2000. In 2012, that number dropped, yes dropped, to 3.96 percent. Not a huge drop, but a drop nonetheless.  

To put these numbers in even broader context, the percent of children who live with neither parent stands at 3.6 percent, virtually the same as those living with single dads. It’s interesting that I have never received an inquiry about the “huge” numbers of children living without their parents.  

As most people can probably guess, the number of single-mother homes still dwarfs the number of single-father homes—24.3 percent of children live in mother-only homes. The percent in 2000 was 22.4 percent. Yes, it is single-mother homes that have become more common in the last decade, not single-father homes.

Why am I pointing this out? Because it is critical that discussions about the family are based on facts, not impressions. We don’t have to guess about most of this stuff; we have good, free, abundant data at our fingertips.  

We often see the same thing happen when people are thinking about the impact of father absence. Does it make a difference? How can we really know for sure? Based on at least 30 years of research, father absence does make a difference. Take a look at this small sample of very persuasive data to get an idea of the great scholarship available on this topic.  

Moreover, it can indeed be dangerous if the media (or whoever) is creating news by manufacturing impressions that are not based on facts. Even I, someone who works in this field, was under the (false) impression that there has been a rise in single fatherhood. I mean, everyone is writing about it, right?! The fact that the real story is actually the opposite—that more children are living in single-mother homes, which are of course father-absent homes—is critical. We (NFI, our culture, you and I!) need to be focused on reducing father absence, not weaving fantastical tales about single dads.  

So, the next time I get a call asking me about the rise in single fatherhood, I'm going to burst someone’s bubble and tell him he should write about the rise in single motherhood (read: father absence) instead. I would then be happy to give him more facts, if he doesn't hang up on me. 

4 Great Resources on How to Deal with Bullies

The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Bullying continues to receive a lot of attention in schools and the media, and for a good reason.

angrychild bullying istockphoto

It takes many forms ranging from traditional, physical bullying to the more recent and harder-to-spot form called “cyberbullying”. Regardless of form or medium, it can devastate its victims and has led some children to kill themselves. It might surprise you to learn, however, that children who bully aren’t necessarily the mean kids who tower in height over everyone else and lie in wait for your child to walk by and steal his or her lunch money through sheer intimidation.

According to Child Trends’ 5 Things to Know about Kids Who Bully, bullies:  

  1. Don’t fit a specific profile.
  2. Are sometimes bullied themselves.
  3. Play a wide range of roles in bullying (e.g. they might actively or passively assist or encourage or a bully rather than do the bullying themselves).
  4. Need help, too.
  5. Can be reinforced (and, alternately, discouraged) in their bullying by parents, peers, and schools.  

The latter point is particularly relevant to our work at National Fatherhood Initiative.

According to Child Trends:

"Children who have less-involved parents are more likely to bully others, as are those who have siblings or parents who model or endorse aggressive behavior. Parenting styles linked to social bullying include those lacking nurturing or that rely on psychological control of children; children with parents who manipulate relationships to assert power or gain attention are also more likely to engage in social bullying.”  

If you’re wondering whether your child is a victim of bullying or know that your child is a victim and need some guidance in how to help your child, check out these four great resources that provide definitions of and data on bullying, as well as, advice on how to deal with bullies.    

  1. KidsHealth (Parents Helping Kids)  
  2. KidsHealth (Teens Helping Themselves)  
  3. Violence Prevention Works  
  4. Bullying Statistics  

When was the last time you talked with your child about bullying?

(Video) Film Students + 2 Odysseys = Surprise Film Fest #DadsDoingGood

This is the fifth video in the series featuring dads getting help from the 2014 Honda Odyssey as they "do good" around their communities. We call it #DadsDoingGood.   
honda, dads doing good, life of dad, whit honea

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and Life of Dad (LoD) partnered with Honda on the “Dads Doing Good” campaign, which features groups of dads "doing good" in their community.  

Here's a recap of each video by week:

Week 1 > Mobile Library > Watch as the dads load up the Odyssey with books and surprise preschool children.

Week 2 > Lemonade for Charity > A great example of how you, dad, can help educate and serve a much-needed cause in your community. The proceeds from the lemonade stand raised awareness for congenital heart defects.

Week 3 > Little League Surprise > Dads use the 2014 Honda Odyssey to remake a little league field by replacing the pitcher's mound, backstop, & batter's box with help from a contractor, coaches, & players.

Week 4 > Surfing SensationDads bring the Odyssey to the beach, where they help a volunteer group teach kids with cystic fibrosis how to surf. Watch as one child takes her first wave EVER!

Week 5 > The New Drive-In TheaterDads arrive at a film school and with help from two Odysseys, host an extraordinary movie screening to unveil the student films with popcorn, soda and the red-carpet treatment.

Watch the video from NFI's facebook page:

Can't view the video? Click here.

Please share this video using the hashtag #DadsDoingGood. Remember, an involved father changes everything.

Visit NFI's Dads Doing Good page for details and #DadsDoingGood on Facebook and Twitter. 

NFI and LoD partnered with Honda for this campaign. The Odysseys were returned to Honda after the videos—and all dads involved wept.

Father-Daughter Bonding: Fears, Myths and Reality

The following is a post from Hugh O. Smith. Hugh is a proud dad, freelance writer and executive at a New York City consulting firm. You can find his blog at hughosmith.com and on Twitter @hughosmith. Interested in blogging a father-son bonding article for us? Read our guest blog guidelines. 

At about 10:00pm on a cold February night I found out I was going to be a father. At 10:01pm, I was a wreck. My biggest concern wasn’t about bringing a baby into our small apartment, or how to pay for the endless procession of stuff a baby needs. It was that I might be a bad father. Every movie or talk show I’d seen with an out-of-control child came back to me in HD. 

Father playing with his happy and smiling baby daughterMy fears intensified a few months later when an ultrasound revealed we were expecting a healthy girl. I was happy she was healthy but the news brought with it a new dimension of worry. What did I know about girls? 

“Perhaps the father’s most difficult challenge today lies in being able to bond with his daughter,” says author Michael Gurian, in The Wonder of Girls.

I knew this all too well. As “only” a dad, could I compete with a mother’s natural bonding mechanisms? Built during pregnancy, this bond would intensify after birth, especially during breastfeeding. According to the New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2002 American Academy of Pediatrics, “This emotional bond is as vital as the nutritional benefit. Breastfeeding promotes a growing attachment that will continue to play an important role in your baby’s development for years to come.” 

One night as I lay awake my wife stirred as the baby moved and kicked. Instinctively, I placed my hand on her stomach and spoke to my daughter. Amazingly, her restless kicking and moving stopped. That night marked a turning point. I realized that I was far from being “only” the dad. There were things I could do, even at this early stage, to ensure there would be a bond between my daughter and I. It was a huge relief to realize I had only to be myself, love my daughter and the bond would take care of itself.

Bonding myth #1: You’re “only” the dad.

The reality: “A father’s love can make or break a girl,” says Mr. Gurian. A daunting statement made less so when you examine the research. According to Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters;

  • Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety.
  • Girls with doting fathers are more assertive.
  • Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention.

Myth busting strategy: Spend time with her. The proof of how important dads are is on your daughter’s ecstatic face when you return home after a long day and in her hugs when you tell her you love her.


Bonding myth #2:
You have to be perfect.

The reality: You don’t have to be a perfect parent in order to bond. There’ll be times when your child drives you crazy and it seems like you can’t do anything right. Step back and give yourself some breathing room. Realize this is a small blip in the vast radar screen of your lives together. After all, your parents weren’t perfect and you turned out fine.

Myth busting strategy: The intimidating job of parenting becomes easier once you realize mistakes are inevitable. Once I realized that it freed me to be the best father possible and not be so hard on myself.


Bonding myth #3:
I don’t have enough bonding time. Mom gets to stay home with the baby for months and I only get a couple of weeks. I can’t compete.

The reality: Moms and dads often bond on different timetables. While it’s true that the mother-child bond may be facilitated by breastfeeding and a greater amount of time together, the fact is the father-child bond is no less strong or relevant. Bonding takes effort and time, there’s no magic that speeds the process. 

Myth busting strategy: Don’t try to recreate the relationship your daughter has with mom. Dads bring a particular set of skills to the relationship. By creating daddy time early on, your daughter will recognize your unique gifts and come to love them. Walks and errands are great ways to get time alone and serve the dual purpose of giving mom a much-deserved break. Mundane tasks may seem, well, mundane but changing diapers or wiping her face (and yours) when the food goes flying is invaluable in the bonding process.

As dads, we don’t have mom’s soft touch or graceful finesse. We might not know how to make waffles just so, or soothe a boo-boo in mom’s magical way. Often, when we’re out with our daughters, socks are mismatched, colors clash and the hair…well let’s just say it’s good that afros are back in style. Still, a father’s love is no less beautiful. As a dad, I know that I am the most important man in my daughter’s life, her first love, guide, and protector. Our daughters need our strength and wisdom to help navigate the long-winding road from the little girl who squeals with delight when you throw her in the air, to the poised, confident woman she will become. If we support and love them unflinchingly, there is nothing our amazing girls cannot accomplish.

iStockPhoto

6 Tips and More on Talking with Your Teen about Sex

The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

As the father of two teen girls (18 and 15), I’ve been focused on doing everything I can to ensure that they avoid sex until they’re adults and, ideally, until they’re married. My primary tactic is, quite simply, to be involved in their lives as much as possible and to love them unconditionally.

dad and teen boy talking

The reason I employ that tactic is not only because I believe in it, I know it’s critical based on research. We’ve known for decades that children who grow up without their fathers are, on average, more likely to become teen parents than are children who grow up with their two, biological, married parents.

A lot of recent research has focused on teens, primarily girls, who have sex with individuals several years older because, as this research shows, children who have sex with much older partners are at increased risk for risky sexual behavior (e.g. having unprotected sex) and poorer emotional health.

A recent report by Child Trends on the latest data on sexual activity among teens confirms these facts and reveals that this is not just an issue for girls, it’s also an issue for boys.

Among young people ages 18 to 24 in 2006-10, ten percent of females and six percent of males reported that their first sexual experience occurred at age 15 or younger with an individual who was three or more years older than they were (“statutory rape”). In terms of the impact of family structure:

  • Male and female youth who were in a family with two biological or adoptive parents at age 14 were less likely than their peers in other family types to report their first sexual encounter was a “statutory rape.”
  • Among young males, four percent of those who lived with two biological or adoptive parents at age 14 reported a “statutory rape” as their first sexual experience, compared with nine percent of males who lived in a step-family, 11 percent of males with a single mother or father, and 13 percent of males in other family structures.
  • The pattern among females is similar, with those who were not living with two biological or adoptive parents at age 14 around three times more likely to have experience a “statutory rape” as their first sexual experience.

Whether you have a teen boy or a teen girl, it’s critical, especially if you are a single parent, to talk with your teen about avoiding sexual activity. There are too many land mines waiting for teens who have sex, especially with partners who are much older.

The good news is that parents have a lot of influence over their teens’ sexual behavior. In fact the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy notes that parents are the most influential factor in teens’ decisions about sex, love, and relationships.

So don’t allow your perception that your teen doesn’t listen to sway your decision about talking with him or her about sex. Another tactic I’ve used is to send a clear message to my girls, since they were very young, that I expect them to delay sex until they’re adults and, ideally, until they’re married. They’ve actually told me they’re glad to know what I expect. 

The Mayo Clinic offers these 6 tips on how to talk with your teen about sex:

      1. Seize the moment. When a TV program or music video raises issues about responsible sexual behavior, use it as a springboard for discussion. Remember that everyday moments—such as riding in the car or putting away groceries—sometimes offer the best opportunities to talk.
      2. Be honest. If you're uncomfortable, say so—but explain that it's important to keep talking. If you don't know how to answer your teen's questions, offer to find the answers or look them up together.
      3. Be direct. Clearly state your feelings about specific issues, such as oral sex and intercourse. Present the risks objectively, including emotional pain, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancy. Explain that oral sex isn't a risk-free alternative to intercourse.
      4. Consider your teen's point of view. Don't lecture your teen or rely on scare tactics to discourage sexual activity. Instead, listen carefully. Understand your teen's pressures, challenges, and concerns.
      5. Move beyond the facts. Your teen needs accurate information about sex—but it's just as important to talk about feelings, attitudes, and values. Examine questions of ethics and responsibility in the context of your personal or religious beliefs.
      6. Invite more discussion. Let your teen know that it's okay to talk with you about sex whenever he or she has questions or concerns. Reward questions by saying, "I'm glad you came to me."
image: iStockPhoto

(Video) Dads Teach Kids How to Surf > #DadsDoingGood

This is the fourth video in the series featuring dads getting help from the 2014 Honda Odyssey as they "do good" around their communities. We call it #DadsDoingGood.   
honda dads doing good national fatherhood initiative

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and Life of Dad (LoD) partnered with Honda on the “Dads Doing Good” campaign, which features groups of dads "doing good" in their community.  

Here's a recap of the previous videos by week:

Week 1 > Mobile Library > Watch as the dads load up the Odyssey with books and surprise preschool children.

Week 2 > Lemonade for Charity > A great example of how you, dad, can help educate and serve a much-needed cause in your community. The proceeds from the lemonade stand raised awareness for congenital heart defects.

Week 3 > Little League Surprise > Dads use the 2014 Honda Odyssey to remake a little league field by replacing the pitcher's mound, backstop, & batter's box with help from a contractor, coaches, & players.

Week 4 > Surfing SensationDads bring the Odyssey to the beach, where they help a volunteer group teach kids with cystic fibrosis how to surf. Watch as one child takes her first wave EVER!

Watch the video from NFI's facebook page:

Can't view the video? Click here.

Please share this video using the hashtag #DadsDoingGood. Remember, an involved father changes everything.

Visit NFI's Dads Doing Good page for details and #DadsDoingGood on Facebook and Twitter. 

NFI and LoD partnered with Honda for this campaign. The Odysseys were returned to Honda after the videos—and all dads involved wept.

Introducing Jim Mckenzie and the "Every Thing for Dads" Convention

The following is a post from Jim Mckenzie. Jim is a happy, totally committed and passionate dad of seven (7) young home-birthed children (which he hand delivered). He is publisher of Every Little Thing birth and Beyond 360 Magazine and blogs at The Fatherhood Biz. Get details on the Every Thing For Dads Convention and follow Jim on Twitter. Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

jim mckenzie every dad convention mega dads every little things magazineThree years ago, I was coaching a really popular health and wellness class at the my local Boys and Girls Club, and it was so disappointing that out of a class of 48 parents and children, there was only one dad…me!

I thought “if I have a busy life (I was then a dad of a mere five young children) and I can be here, paying it forward and more, then why can’t other dads?” This was the pivotal “ah ha” moment that led me to launch a movement to engage modern dads in their families’ lives, because so many were missing out on something truly wonderful…so many children were losing a chance to develop into well-rounded young adults because of fathers failing to be “present’ in their lives, even when they do live with their families.

I’m honored to be a guest blogger for National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) who has been such a trailblazer for informed parenting! The rest of this blog might feel a little infomercial-ish; but do excuse me, because it’s my first blog post here.

I have a lot to tell you in a short space of time…so here we go...

Here's my family...

mckenzie family jim and kids mega dad ame media group

Here's my story...

Two years ago, when I researched the subject "family lifestyles," it was clear that there was a serious lack of media speaking to and for the support and promotion of a dad's pivotal role.

When I created Every Little Thing Birth And Beyond 360 Magazine, a free digital magazine for 21st century parenting lifestyles, I assembled an “army” of dads who had been trying to make an impact on the need for change, but who needed a cohesive voice in the media—the Every Thing For Dads movement was born!

every little thing magazine offer FREE

Fast forward—now the unique dads section of the magazine runs to over 50 pages each month, covering many issues facing fathers today. With such momentum going forward, there is no doubt in my mind that dads' issues have to be brought alive. So on March 15, 2014, I’m launching the very first Every Thing For Dads Convention in Sarasota, Florida. It's meant to be a celebration of dadhood, which will also feature the MEGA Dads Awards; it will also be livestreamed. We will have celebrity guests from the NFL and TV at the event (teaser alert—you’ll have to check in with me to find out who…) Part of the proceeds will benefit The Every Thing For Dads Foundation which has a mission to create a live internet channel to reach and inspire dads from all walks of life.

The future? My goal is to be the hub for all dads and families to speak to making positive change for the better. We live in an era when the mom, dad, and two kids family is becoming less common. I can speak about how to be a great married dad, but I know very little about what it means to live as a single dad, divorced dad or blended-family dad. That’s why my mission is to include and connect dads from all walks of life with the very best information; caring and intuitive dads who can connect and convey their experiences to others with authority…and without being condescending—know what I mean? When the day arrives that I have Every Thing For Dads Conventions running in every state, and my own version of “The Oprah Winfrey” TV Show for everyday dads and families, then I will know my mission is on the road. I hope that you’ll join me on my journey to get there! See you in March! 

Are More Moms Opting In or Opting Out?

The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President and Vincent DiCaro, Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Whenever we think our culture has come a long way in the last 15 years on this issue, we see an article that reminds us that a lot of work remains to be done.  

girl in mom shoes are more women opting in or out nfi fatherhoodAn article published this month on "The Daily Beast" website (a Newsweek property) has caused a lot of furor. The article, called "No Dad? No Problem. Meet the Moms Who Opt In Forever—and Aren’t Complaining," exemplifies an attitude that is growing in popularity in certain cultural circles; that kids do just fine without dads. To point, other than the mention of the word "dad" in the article's title, the remainder of the article has nothing to say about fathers or fatherhood.

So, despite the mountains of evidence that, on average, these children are at risk across every measure of child well-being, the article ignores the data and instead ends with a quote from one mom, whose own words prove that this is not about the well-being of children, but about "personal fulfillment" for adults: "I get to raise my child however I want. There’s no stress, no tension about child-rearing choices. Now I’m happy all the time. There’s not the emotional up and down. There’s never going to be custody disputes. She’ll never be taken away from me. I’ll never have that worry. It’s not as hard as people imagine."    

The article contends that more moms are opting in to a life filled with the demands of work and parenting and doing it all on their own. These moms, dubbed SMCs (single mothers by choice), like the idea of having complete control over their lives including the raising of their children. A life that is free from the trials and tribulations created by men and marriage. There’s even a group called Single Mothers by Choice that SMCs can join and through which they can connect with other SMCs for mutual support. The group even helps SMCs form virtual and local support networks. The philosophy of the group is as follows:  

“The word “choice” in our title has two implications: we have made a serious and thoughtful decision to take on the responsibility of raising a child by ourselves, and we have chosen not to bring a child into a relationship that is not a satisfactory one.”  

We question how thoughtful that decision really is. (It’s certainly a serious one, but not for the reasons these moms might think.) They’re certainly not thinking about the increased risk their children face growing up without a dad. Indeed, in an article chocked full of quotes from SMCs, not a single one mentions anything about the children. They focus instead on how these mothers benefit from being SMCs. Thoughtful, it seems, means “thinking only about me.”  

We also question the second implication of their choice and its validity. By definition, these mothers have chosen to bring a child into the world in the absence of a relationship, not in the presence of an unsatisfactory one. That part of their philosophy is simply a way to make themselves feel better about their choice—a convenient, and untruthful, excuse. The fact is they don’t want to mess with men and marriage and are willing to position their choice against an implication that doesn’t exist for them.  

Finally, we question the sanity of that choice—bringing more fatherless children into the world. A country with 24 million fatherless children (1 in 3) and a world with millions more. A country in which it costs taxpayers at least 100 billion annuallyto pay for the consequences of father absence. So while these moms are opting in to a life as a SMC, they’re opting out of giving their children the love of an involved, responsible, committed father.

Question: How do you think a child should be raised?

image: iStockPhoto

(Video) Dads Remake Little League Field > #DadsDoingGood

This is the third video in the series featuring dads getting help from the 2014 Honda Odyssey as they "do good" around their communities. Hence, #DadsDoingGood.   
honda dads doing good community service fatherhood family cars

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) and Life of Dad (LoD) partnered with Honda on the “Dads Doing Good” campaign, which features groups of dads "doing good" in their community.  

Our first video was of dads using the Odyssey as a “mobile library.” Watch as the dads load up the Odyssey with books and surprise preschool children.

Week two featured Lemonade for Charity. This was another great example of how you, dad, can help educate and serve a much-needed cause in your community. The proceeds from the lemonade stand raised awareness for congenital heart defects.

This week, the dads use the 2014 Honda Odyssey to set up a remake a little league field. We call it "Little League Surprise." The dads remake a Little League field by replacing the pitcher's mound, backstop, & batter's box with help from a contractor, coaches, & players. Watch the video from NFI's facebook page:

Can't view the video? Click here.

Please share this video with the hashtag #DadsDoingGood. Remember, an involved father changes everything.

Visit our Dads Doing Good page for details and follow #DadsDoingGood on Twitter and Facebook. 

NFI and LoD partnered with Honda for this campaign. The Odysseys were returned to Honda after the videos—and all dads involved wept.

11 Tips for Balancing Work & Family from the “Extremely Productive”

The following is a post from Christopher A. Brown, Executive Vice President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). Interested in blogging for us? Read our guest blog guidelines.

Have you ever marveled at the person who seems to get a ton of work done and still has time for family? You know, the person who seems to "have it all.” The person who excels at work and at home and who even has the time to volunteer for their favorite cause.

ways to manage work and family balance work and family productive productivity how-to I’ve often struggled to balance work and family. That’s right. Even those of us dads who have dedicated their careers to family strengthening face the same challenges as any other dad. We have to toe a fine line of hypocrisy. I remember a day in 2007 when my oldest daughter, who was 12 at the time, was struggling emotionally. She was depressed. I returned home after a week-long trip speaking at a conference and training staff of organizations on how to help fathers be better dads. She started to cry after I walked in the door. We went into the backyard and talked for what seemed like a couple of hours. It took a while, but she finally revealed the source of her pain. It was me. I was traveling too much, and she missed me.  

One of the consequences of being an involved dad is that when you’re not around as often, your children miss you. This was a time when I traveled a lot speaking at conferences and training facilitators on our programs and on how to build capacity to effectively serve fathers. I knew that it was hard on my children and my wife, but I didn’t know just how hard it was.

Fortunately, my daughter had the courage to tell me that I needed to be home more, and I listened. I asked her what she thought was a reasonable amount of time for me to be gone. I negotiated for a maximum number of travel days each month based on her input.  

I’m known for being productive. Some people even tell me that I’m “extremely” productive. (I can only hope I’m just as effective.) I rise by 4:30 AM on the weekdays, work out for an hour to an hour and a half, start work by 6:00 AM, and usually get in a 10-hour day. That schedule allows me to care for myself, get a lot of work done, and still have time for family. I’m fortunate in that I work from home. I don’t have to struggle with long commutes that sap personal and family time. The biggest factor, however, in my ability to balance work and family is a flexible employer.  

Working for a flexible employer is one of many tips for balancing work and family offered by Robert C. Pozen in Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours. (Pozen is one of those people who is an answer to the question I posed at the start of this post. I pale in comparison.)

Here are 11 tips for balancing work and family, a combination of those offered by Pozen and offered in NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ program.  

    1. Look for employers that provide flexibility on when and where you work, and that offer paid leave for childbirth and other life events.
    2. Commit every day to leaving work early enough to have dinner or spend time with your family.
    3. Be assertive to obtain more flexibility. Assure your boss that you will get work done even if you take an hour out of the day to take your child to the doctor.
    4. Show your family commitment at work by displaying things like family photos and your children’s artwork. These displays will show your co-workers and boss that you’re committed to family.
    5. Make career decisions as a family. When you have an opportunity to change jobs or move laterally or up in your company or organization, talk with mom and your children (if your children are old enough) about the new commitments that will come with the opportunity, especially if those commitments will affect family time.
    6. Keep family commitments as sacred as work commitments—even more so. Avoid missing a family commitment because something comes up at work. The more often you keep your family commitments, the more likely your co-workers and your boss will be to respect them.
    7. If you and mom both work outside the home and can’t reduce your office hours (e.g. to spend more time with the children), look to friends and family to help out (e.g. watch the children when they come home from school).
    8. When you are with your family, avoid all but the most critical interruptions from work. Most work issues can wait until the next day.
    9. If you must bring work home, create a separate time and place to do the work. Your mind needs to move from you as a professional to you as a family member.
    10. Create a daily block of time for family called “family prime time.” Turn off your mobile devices, computers, and keep work off-limits during this time.
    11. Create and sign a “family contract.” Have your children and mom sign it, too. Put in writing that you’ll balance success at work with success at home. Read this contract at the start of every week to remind you of your commitment.
image: iStockPhoto

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