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The Father Factor

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A Father's Contact from Prison Made All the Difference to His Son

Last week we shared the story of Coley Harris, a previously incarcerated father dedicated to helping youth in his hometown of Wilmington, DE to develop meaning and direction in their lives. But what about Coley's son?

For 14 years, Ahmarr Melton knew that something wasn't quite right. Ahmarr grew up with his dad in prison until he was 16 years old. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common reality for many of our nation's children. Over 1.1 million incarcerated individuals are fathers of children between the ages of 0-17, and the number of children with an incarcerated father has risen 79% since 1991.

But the silver lining is that a father's absence (or in this case, incarceration) doesn't have to end badly for all involved. With commitment and determination, a father-son relationship can come out of the ashes, and become a seed that finds life. 

How One Hour Changed My Image of Jerry Jones

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is undeniably one of the most polarizing figures in pro sports. Ever since he booted the legendary Tom Landry from his perch atop America's Team, Jones has assumed the mantle of maverick owner controlling every aspect of the team's operations as president and general manager.

Earn Your Effective Facilitation Certificate™ from the Nation’s Leader

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Effective Facilitation Certificate™ Training (EFC), the second affordable, time saving, on-demand training from National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI). I’m just as pumped about this certificate, as I was about the on-demand Father Engagement Certificate™ Training we launched last year which has been so wildly popular! Here’s why.

While Wilmington, DE has a High Rate of Father Absence, it Also Has One of the Best Fathers

Wilmington, DE has one of the nation's highest rates of father absence in our nation (65.5%), followed closely by Detroit, MI (63.3%), and Birmingham, AL (61.5%). That's why when we hear a father-son story of healing, reconciliation, and connection coming out of this town, we've got to proclaim it from the rooftops! (OK, maybe not the rooftops, but indulge me for a minute.) 

This story will forever change your perspective on father absence and incarceration. It demonstrates how a person - and a relationship - can come out of the ashes. That relationship is a seed that can find life with commitment and determination.

So let's go back to Wilmington, DE where the story begins with, “ I’m this 18-year-old drug dealer, and I’m stressed out of my mind worrying about myself, my future, my child, and these kids are looking up to me, because I’m the leader at this point.” 

The Deep, Powerful Message in Kelly Clarkson's New Hit Song

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Kelly Clarkson performed her new hit song "Piece by Piece" on the February 25th episode of the 15th and final season of American Idol. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. Keith Urban was especially moved. He couldn't hold back his tears. Even Ms. Clarkson had a trying time singing the song all the way through. She received a standing ovation at the conclusion of this moving performance.

"Piece by Piece" is the title track from Ms. Clarkson's first album of original songs in four years. What's she been doing all that time? Still performing, for sure. Her primary focus, however, has been stepping into the role of her lifetime: being a stepmother to her husband's two children and a new mom to her own child. If you saw her performance--and you have to watch it--you know her second child will soon say hello to the world. What has happened to transform her life since her last album is key to understanding why "Piece by Piece" is her most emotional song yet.

Announcing Call for Submissions > 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® Pledges

According to Merriam Webster, a pledge is a serious promise or agreement; something that you leave with another person as a way to show that you will keep your promise. As fatherhood practitioners, isn't that what we hope for the dads we serve? That they pledge to being an involved father after learning they are irreplaceable in their children's lives?

Research shows that when individuals make a commitment - and make it publicly - they are more likely to remain committed. So here's where you come in: imagine dads across the country saying a pledge you wrote before their weekly 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® session or at their graduation ceremony.

Intrigued? Read on for how to submit a pledge to be used by organizations across the nation running our 24/7 Dad® and InsideOut Dad® programs.

The Secret Sauce for Dads to Take Paternity Leave

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

In a previous post in this blog, I wrote about Netflix's new parental leave policy that gives new parents up to one year of paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. While we should applaud Netflix for that policy, I noted that it lacks the teeth necessary to encourage dads to take advantage of it. 

More Organizations Using 24/7 Dad® with Teen Dads

More organizations are using National Fatherhood Initiative’s 24/7 Dad® program with teen dads. 

This fact was underscored a couple of weeks ago when I attended the Texas Fatherhood Summit in Austin, Texas. Organized by the Child and Family Research Partnership at the University of Texas (at Austin), the conference brought together researchers and practitioners to discuss the latest in evidence-based research on fatherhood programs. Several of the attendees included staff from organizations using 24/7 Dad® with teen dads, including those with home-visiting programs.

3 Best Websites for Dads

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

According to the Pew Research Center's recent Parenting in America study, only 39% of dads say they do a "very good job as a parent." That's compared to 51% of moms who say the same about their own parenting.

Why, then, do 6 in 10 dads lack confidence in their parenting? One reason might be dads' lack of confidence in how well prepared they are to be dads. National Fatherhood Initiative's Pop's Culture study -- the most comprehensive national study ever conducted on dads' attitudes on fathering -- found that only 54% of dads "agreed" and 22% "strongly agreed" that they were adequately prepared for fatherhood when their first child was born.

The 7 Habits of a 24/7 Dad

There are good dads and then there are average dads. I talk to fatherhood leaders daily and often ask them what their biggest challenge is facing the dads they serve.

You can imagine the varied responses. Money...sure. Relationships...of course. Addictions...yes. But, often leaders say their dads struggle with "time to connect with their child".

This answer is well-meaning; and I understand it. Dads are busy. Everyone feels busy. But, if a dads biggest challenge is spending time with his kids, time probably isn't his problem.

Here's the question: Do the dads you serve know the difference between an average dad and a good dad?

Hint: His answer depends on how well he handles these seven habits...

Four Fatherhood Lessons from America's Founding Father

General, Commander-in-Chief, First President of the United States...these are some of the titles of America's Founding Father, George Washington. I recently reviewed history related to Mr. Washington, and was reminded of what made him such an influential leader.

No matter how you feel about Mr. Washington's rise to power, there is no doubt of his ability to influence others. In this post, I explore what made Washington an influential leader and how these leadership lessons should inspire us to be more influential with our families.

Use these lessons for yourself or share them with the dads around you. Here we go...

3 Ways To Make Your Marriage Better By Tonight

It's National Marriage Week and considering I've been married over 12 years, I've learned a thing or two. Okay, I've learned three things. Now, I don't write this post as the perfect husband, just ask my wife. But, you don't have to be perfect to know a thing or two or three about what works and what doesn't. 

Whether you're reading this and you're married, or you work with fathers and families who are currenting struggling through relationship issues, here are three things worth doing (or sharing with the married folks in your circle) today to make an impact on the marriage—not months from now—but by tonight.

Where Presidential Candidates Stand on Supporting Families

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

With the focus during this presidential race on Obamacare, immigration reform, terrorism, and the economy, it's not surprising that the leading Republican and Democratic candidates have had little to say about what they would do to support strong families. Moreover, the media haven't been particularly interested in what the candidates would do once elected to build and maintain what is arguably the most important institution in American culture.

Spotlight > 24/7 Dad® Launches in Iowa, Shows Recruitment "Must Haves" [Video]

With all eyes on Iowa this week for the presidential caucuses, we have our eyes on a fatherhood program in Northern Iowa who's doing more than shaking hands and taking pictures with babies. Jeremey Simerson, the program facilitator, shows by example how to get dads in the door to your program...

Be Good to Yourself. You’ll Be Better to Your Kids.

Emotional burnout is a consistent concern for parents, but the added pressures of a hectic holiday season can make things worse. With a new year beginning, it’s a perfect time for fathers to regroup and remember to take care of yourselves, so you can be the best possible parent for your children. 

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

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