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The Father Factor

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10 Ways To Be a Better Dad

Today, more and more dads like you are experiencing the satisfaction and reward of taking a more active role in the life of your child. Read and discover how these 10 simple ideas can help (or remind) you to start today on a new path—one that will impact your relationships...and your child's future. 

1) Respect Your Children's Mother

One of the best things you, as a dad, can do for your children is to respect their mother. If you are married, maybe this goes without saying, but I'll say it just in case; keep your marriage strong and healthy. Take time, as least weekly, to work on this relationship and keep it strong. If you're not married, it's still important to respect and support the mother of your children. A father and mother who respect each other, and let their children know it, provide a secure environment for the children. When children see their parents respecting each other, they are more likely to feel they are also accepted and respected. Find more on protecting your marriage.

10 ways to be a better dad fatherhood2) Spend Time With Your Children

This is more complicated that is sounds, I know. But, how a dad spends his time tells his children what's important to him. You've no doubt heard us say, Children spell "love": T-I-M-E. If you always seem too busy for your children, they will feel neglected no matter what you say. Treasuring children often means sacrificing other things, but it is essential to spend time with your children. Kids grow up so quickly. Missed opportunities are lost forever. Need ideas for how to spend your time? Here are 7 Ways to Connect with Your Kids

3) Listen First, Talk Second

All too often the only time a father speaks to his children is when they are getting in trouble. That's why many children may cringe when their mother says, "Your father wants to talk with you." Take time and listen to your children's ideas and problems. Listening helps them feel respected and understood. Begin listening and talking with your kids when they are young so that difficult subjects will be easier to handle as they get older. 

4) Discipline With Love

All children need guidance and discipline, not as punishment, but to set reasonable limits. Remind your children of the consequences of their actions and provide meaningful rewards for desirable behavior. Fathers who discipline in a calm and fair manner show love to their children. Get our 8 Things to Know About Disciplining Your Child.

5) Be A Role Model

Fathers are role models to their kids, whether they realize it or not. A girl who spends time with a loving father grows up knowing she deserves to be treated with respect by boys, and what to look for in a husband. Fathers can teach sons what is important in life by demonstrating honesty, humility, and responsibility. Here's a great example of a role model dad in case you need one.

6) Be A Teacher

Too often we think teaching is something others do at a school building. But a father who teaches his children about right and wrong, and encourages them to do their best, will see his children make good choices. Involved fathers use everyday examples to help their children learn the basic lessons of life. Consider the vital knowledge you, and you only, possess with regard to music and classic movies at this point!

7) Eat Together As A Family

Sharing a meal together (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) can be an important part of healthy family life. In addition to providing some structure on a busy day, it gives kids the chance to talk about what they are doing and want to do. It is also a good time for fathers to listen. Most importantly, it is a time for families to be together each day. 

8) Read To Your Children

In a world where television and technology dominates the lives of children, it is important that fathers make the effort to read to their children. Children learn best by doing and reading, as well as seeing and hearing. Read to your children when they are very young. When they are older, encourage them to read on their own. Instilling your children with a love for reading is one of the best ways to ensure they will have a lifetime of growth. We wrote a little something called 6 Tips on How to Show Your Child Reading is Awesome. Let's be honest, it's helpful.

9) Show Affection

Children need the security that comes from knowing they are wanted, accepted, and loved by their family. Dad, get comfortable hugging your children. Showing affection every day is the best way to let your children know that you love them.

10) Realize A Father's Job Is Never Done

Even after children are grown and ready to leave home, they will still look to their fathers for wisdom and advice. Whether it's continued schooling, a new job or a wedding, fathers continue to play an essential part in the lives of their children as they grow and, perhaps, marry and build their own families. 

Which one of these 10 ways do you find the most difficult? Why?

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Fatherhood Leader: We have these 10 Ways to Be a Better Dad created as brochures and tip cards for you to use with your group of dads in any setting.

image: iStockPhoto

What's Mom Got to Do With It?

I was at an acquaintance's house the other night, and the inevitable question, "What do you do for a living" led to an unending story of a father who was denied access to his child(ren) by the mother - for all sorts of reasons.

I heard about the endless heartache he suffered trying to be involved in the child's life, which lead to his frustration, and eventual hopelessness and realization that he would never have easy access to his child.

Now, we all know there are two sides to every story, but this scenario is all too common.

what's mom got to do with it fatherhoodWhen I tell people that NFI develops and distributes curricula to help organizations across the nation work with dads to increase their involvement, I often get the follow-on question, "Well, what about the moms who don't let them be involved?"

Enter the discussion of "maternal gatekeeping", which refers to a mother’s protective beliefs about the desirability of a father’s involvement in their child’s life, and the behaviors acted upon that either facilitate or hinder collaborative childrearing (often called “shared parenting” or “co-parenting”) between the parents. Maternal gatekeeping occurs regardless of whether parents are married, divorced or unmarried, and regardless of the parents’ satisfaction with the relationship between them. 

Let me clarify - this is not a discussion about the court system and its challenges. We're talking about the part of the father-child relationship over which a mother has some control - where she has the choice to be a gateway or a gatekeeper to dad's involvement. Specifically: 

  • The cognitive aspects of maternal gatekeeping include preferences or beliefs about the father’s involvement, satisfaction with his involvement, and the mother’s view of the father’s competence as a parenting figure. 
  • The behavioral aspects can include how the mother speaks about the father in the presence of their child; to what extent the father is included or updated on the child’s health, schooling or social life; and the extent to which the mother communicates to the father that she knows what is best for their child and the correct way to do things—while he does not 

How Does this Happen?

In most married or cohabiting American families, mothers and fathers divide their family roles and tasks to achieve maximum efficiency as they raise children. Even when parents expect during pregnancy that they will divide employment and family roles evenly, most new parents take on gender stereotypic roles after the birth of their first child and thereafter (Cowan & Cowan, 2000). Even when both parents work outside the home, fathers more often take on the dominant role as economic provider. Regardless of how much each parent works outside the home, mothers generally assume primary responsibility for childcare and associated responsibilities inside the home. In divorced and unmarried families, mothers most often assume legal guardianship of children. Consequently, children most often reside with them, resulting again in mothers’ assumption of primary responsibility for their care on a daily basis. 

Despite an increase in joint custody and the recognized importance of fathering among divorced, separated, or never-married couples, mothers continue to typically serve as the primary caretakers of children, particularly in their children’s early years. Even when mothers and fathers are equally or near-equally involved in raising children, mothers often feel a sense of ownership or that they have primary rights toward the children in comparison to fathers. This feeling can result from some combination of biology (mothers carry the children in pregnancy and give birth) and social roles selected by many parents—and reinforced by societal expectations—that currently sanction mothers over fathers as primary caretakers of children. 

Why Does it Happen?

The motivations for maternal gatekeeping vary widely. They depend on individual, couple, and familial circumstances and situations. Mothers might have a difficult time relinquishing familial responsibility, might want to validate their identity as “the mother” and garner recognition for their “maternal” or “feminine” contributions to the family, or might view the father as incompetent or even dangerous to the child. This latter view might be based either on actual evidence, the father’s past behaviors, or her personal perceptions of him and his failures in the male familial role.

Furthermore, she might be protective of her child purely as a function of the child’s age. If the child is not old enough to verbalize his or her own needs and desires, she might feel qualified to make decisions and judgments for that child, thus becoming the monitor, supervisor, permission grantor, and controller of all others’ involvement with the child—including the father’s. There are likely "good" intentions here.

However, when the father is less involved in raising his child or finds his access to his child constantly hindered and blocked by the gatekeeping actions of the mother, the ability of the child to adjust to parental divorce is weakened. The gatekeeping can damage the father-child relationship and the parents’ ability to cooperate and keep their conflict levels low and out of the child’s earshot or awareness. It is well established that conflict, low levels of cooperation, and less father involvement contribute to the child’s academic, behavioral, and social difficulties in the short and long term. Maternal gatekeeping therefore poses an important and powerful threat to the vitality of the father-child relationship and the overall well-being and adjustment of the child.

So we're back to helping fathers be involved in their children's lives. We need to discuss positive gatekeeping and its result.

Studies have demonstrated that when mothers perceived their partners as motivated and competent to engage in child care responsibilities, fathers were more involved in childcare (benefitting mom!). The father-child relationship is thus based on a triangle that includes father, child, and mother. In research on divorced parents, positive gatekeeping (that which supports and facilitates shared parenting) is linked to the mother’s beliefs about the importance of the father’s involvement and her duty to help nurture and facilitate it. The fathers’ positive gatekeeping response is linked to his acknowledgment that the mother’s role in his relationship to his child is a real and valid one.

As a Fatherhood Practitioner, What can You do About It?

Begin educating mothers on the importance of father involvement. Work directly on the maternal gatekeeping topic addressed in NFI's popular FatherTopics Workshop Mom as Gateway or in a deeper way with Understanding Dad: An Awareness and Communication Program for Moms. You may even find that your staff members could benefit from a better understanding of maternal gatekeeping, and how to help moms understand the importance of dad's involvement. Your personal and organizational goals to increase father involvement in the lives of children in your community will thank you.

Download your free sample of "Mom As Gateway" here

image: creatas

Day 91: My Journey from Obese to Overweight #P90X3Dads

I know what you're thinking, the title of this post sounds underwhelming. I've gone from obese to overweight in 90 days doing the P90X3 program. While "overweight" doesn't sound like an accomplishment, it is to me. I've experienced many improvements physically and mentally in the last 90 days. Let's talk details...

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Last Father's Day (2013), I made a goal:

Lose 50 pounds by next Father's Day (2014).

Crazy idea? Sure. But a goal without a deadline is just a dream, right?!

I'm happy to report that after one year...I reached my goal! I lost 50 pounds. Typing this doesn't sound true. Last year at Father's Day I weigh 230 pounds. This year, I weighed 180 pounds.

I'm still overweight for my height, but I'm no longer in the obese category. Congratulate me on my fitness in the comments! ; )

Over the last 90 days of doing P90X3 I've learned a few things and I've changed in many ways. At a glance, this was my 90-day journey in blog posts:

  1. Day Zero: Pressing Play on Fit Fathering
  2. Day 37: Dream Bigger Than a Smaller Number
  3. Day 74: Respect Water

What I Have Learned...

  • Habit matters: I'm a creature of habit; so are you. What we do daily is what matters. Don't think in terms of weekly or monthly about your health; think daily. Heck, think hourly. Pick a time of day that works best for you, preferably when you have the most energy, and exercise. Let nothing get in your way. This is you-time! With P90X3 there's one rest day per week. For me, the one day off each week is still a time to be active. If I'm inactive for one day, I want to be inactive for two days.
  • Water is key: I've written and talked so much about water I'll spare here, just know that without drinking massive amounts of H20 you will not reach your goals. Why? Mostly because you'll be hungry and more likely to consume salt, sugar, tables, chairs, lawn equipment and the like. Also, you can forget exercise because you won't have the energy for it.
  • Diet matters too: See my water post, but also, eat about a third of what you are now. If you're obese and reading this post, my guess is that you, like me, became obese by eating too much of too many bad things at too many times—and not drinking enough water. 
  • Oh, and be active: Whether it's 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour, being active changes everything. Trust me, you may not feel like doing anything but sofa-planking, but once you start doing something, you'll feel better. This comes in time, I promise.

How I've Changed...

  • Mentally: I'm pretty sure my wife would tell you I'm happier now than 90 days ago. I say "pretty sure" because I'm still a stressed-out jerk about stupid stuff I can't control. But, daily exercise gives me moments of euphoria you might call "happiness". Eating right for a span of a few meals and snacks has the same affect. If you feel more energetic, you'll probably feel like doing productive stuff. I'm more alert and have noticed moments of deeper concentration. I'm accomplishing more at work and working more efficiently. It's like taking the Limitless pill NZT except I can remember what I've done instead of waking up in a torn suit on the Brooklyn bridge. Y'all have seen that movie right? Nevermind.
  • Physically: I went from 230 pounds to 198 pounds before starting P90X3. But here are several changes I have noticed in the 90 days (from Day Zero to Day 91):
    • Weight: Lost 18 pounds—from 198 to 180.
    • Chest: From XL (Extra-Large) shirts to L (Large). Also, went from super-snug 44 blazer to slim fit 44 (could get away with a regular 42!).
    • Waist: From snug 38-inch pants to loose 34's (almost to size 32's!).
    • Face: My face is no longer round: this is good because my face was never supposed to be round.
    • Feet: My feet no longer hurt. I used to complain about my shoes; but the shoes weren't the issue. Now, even when I spend all day walking in flip-flops, my feet aren't hurting. Hello, barefeet summer!
    • Hands: My wedding ring fits. I was convinced my wedding ring was becoming smaller. Now, it fits like the day Tonia lovingly placed it on my finger. PS: Fingers shouldn't swell or change much over the years unless there are possible health issues. Read the signs, brothers and sisters.

In the last year, but especially in the last 90 days, I have gone from obese to overweight. In the next 90 days (I've already started a second round of P90X3), my goal is to go from overweight to fit. But for now, I have to be excited and feel encouraged (see pics here. sign-in required). Within 90 days, I'm ready to be in the best shape of my entire life. I wish nothing but the same for you.

Note: No dad was paid for this post. We were, however, given a base kit and two kits to giveaway because the Beach Body folks are so awesome. We'll hand-select one winner who uses #P90X3Dads on social media or comments on the blog. Tell us: What would a free copy of P90X3 do for you?

The Surprising Facts about Payments of Child Support

As an observer of trends in attempts at the federal, state, and local levels to engage non-custodial fathers in the lives of their children, one of the trends I'm most pleased to have witnessed is the trend in the realization that most low-income non-custodial dads are "dead broke" instead of "deadbeat."

surprising facts about child support paymentsNevertheless, it's important to continue to ensure that the children of non-custodial dads have access to financial resources. Enforcement and collection of child support has been the primary focus of the federal government and states in this regard. From 2001-2012, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement reports a whopping increase of 50 percent in child support collections from $21 billion (yes, that's with a "b") to $31.6 billion. Some of the tactics that states and local jurisdictions have employed to increase child support collection among low-income non-custodial dads include: 

  • Making child support payments more affordable.
  • Reducing and, in some cases, forgiving arrears.
  • Increasing access and visitation.
  • Providing parenting classes so that fathers can become more involved in the lives of their children.

Some states, such as Texas, have gone so far as to reconfigure their entire approach to collecting child support by reorganizing the agencies that collect such payments to focus on providing an array of services that strengthen families. In these states, the financial resources provided by non-custodial fathers is seen as only one of the assets that their children need to thrive. 

But what about non-custodial mothers? I've rarely heard mention of the importance of collecting child support from these non-custodial parents (NCPs). Federal and state efforts include collecting payments from non-custodial mothers because they are NCPs, but there is a dearth of efforts that specifically address them. Is that because:

  • There aren't that many of these NCPs to worry about so that the amount of child support they owe is inconsequential?
  • Custodial dads don't need as much financial help as custodial moms?
  • These NCPs are, as some people might assume, more likely to pay child support because they're moms?

Do the answers to these questions suggest that it's not worth the effort to collect what these moms owe even if it would help custodial dads provide adequate financial resources to their children?

The answer to the first two questions is "no." According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, custodial dads were owed $3.7 billion in child support in 2011. While that pales in comparison to the 31.7 billion owed to custodial moms in 2011, it's not an insignificant amount, and it's certainly not insignificant from the perspective of the custodial dads and their children. The rate of poverty among custodial-mom families was almost double that of custodial-dad families. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of custodial-dad families (16.2 percent) lived in poverty while even more were undoubtedly "poor."  

The answer to the third question is where these data get really interesting and, depending on your view when you started to read this post, surprising. A slightly lower percentage of custodial dads (41.4 percent) received all of their child support compared to custodial moms (43.6 percent). Moreover, a significantly higher percentage of custodial dads didn't receive any payments (32 percent) compared to custodial moms (25.1 percent). It's striking that it's as much of a challenge to collect payments from non-custodial moms as it is to collect them from non-custodial dads. The likelihood of paying child support is, at best, gender-neutral.

It should be clear by now that the answer to the final question is a resounding "no." It's worth the effort to collect child support from NCPs regardless of gender. Organizations at the federal, state, and local levels should develop, test, and implement strategies and tactics effective at collecting child support from non-custodial moms and dads while acknowledging that some of these strategies and tactics might need to differ based on gender.

What is your agency doing to ensure that children receive financial resources regardless of which parent has custody?

What To Do (and What Not To Do) With Your Kids on #MomsNightOut

There are three types of dads in the new parenting movie Moms' Night Out. Inspired by the idea of "giving the at-home mom a break," I have advice for what dad can do with his child no matter the age or stage so that dad can connect and mom can relax.

dads big book of tips for moms night out

Let's pretend for a moment you read my earlier post Prepping for Mom's Night Out and now the mom in your life is going out to watch the Moms' Night Out movie with her friends (in theaters tomorrow May 9th...hint...hint). You work outside the home, which means that most days, you aren't alone with your kids super often, it happens, we get it. Which makes what you do with your child once mom is out vital so you can feel comfortable, bond well, and she can relax knowing dad has everything under control.

If mom's going out with friends to a movie, you're gonna have at least four hours to connect with your kids. Do the math: movie running time is at least an hour and a half, there's the time it takes your wife to get ready, the drive to and from the theater, and what about dinner? Boom, four-plus hours gone.

You need help. You can waste this time on your iPhone while your kid plays MineCraft or you can use it to connect with your child.

Whether you're a dad reading this post or someone who serves dads, here are few ideas for what a dad can do based on the stage of the child—and the dad. I have two phases in my head of how evenings with my girls can pan out:

1) staying inside the house and

2) venturing outside of the house. 

You'll find ideas for each phase based on the age and stage of your child. Thank me in the comments.

In the Moms' Night Out movie, the three types of dads shown are all good, caring dads. But, they each have their own experiences, some more than others. Let's get at this...

The Dad of an Infant or Toddler: This is possibly the scariest stage. The dad of a teen may disagree, but he's not writing this post, so I stand on my opinion. Here's the clencher, know this dad, you're connecting now with your young one so it's easier later. This stage was scary for me, still is. Call me crazy, but I'm more comfortable with the child once it can talk to me. But, this night isn't about your fear, it's about connecting with your baby. 

Inside the house: Get on the floor and crawl around. That's it. Simple right? Now do that for four hours. Seriously, your life at this phase should be on the floor. The younger the child, the more time you should spend on the floor. What else should you do beside play? Well, you can feed'em; that's helpful. Check their diaper often. Make sure they are drinking enough fluids. Am I getting in the weeds here? Can you tell it's been over four years since I had a baby in my house? I have a story about tossing my firstborn in the air with a belly full of milk and popcorn. Sorry, Bella, I was new. Which makes this rule super applicable...

momsnightout

Looking back on when my daughters were at this young stage, I cherish the simple times of holding them and them falling asleep in my arms. Older dads like me know somehting you don't yet, as hard as it seems now to get that baby to sleep, there will come a time when they get too big carry around for hours before they fall asleep. You will want this stage back as crazy as it sounds now.

Just hold them. Snuggle them. Read to them. But try not to be scared and worried like the new dad in the trailer below who says semi-jokingly to his wife going out, "...I could get maimed, I could lose both children..." If you're too afraid of messing something up, call for back-up. I'm only a little ashamed I called my father-in-law to help me watch my second-born infant when all she did was sleep the entire time mom was out. Don't judge me. 


Outside the house: I can't lie, I wasn't the quickest dad to venture outside when mom was away. Especially once there's more than one child. But, for toddlers, dare I say it, those places with the mouse-head logo work well. End of discussion. You don't need more tips, because if you visit the mouse, you won't be home before mom is back!

The Dad of a School-Aged Child: This is the stage I'm in now. I'm with you, dad, you can do this.

Inside the house: Here's my go-to idea: slumber parties. They're the going-thing at my house with two daughters, ages 7 and 4. Slumber parties have been all-the-buzz at my house for years and I plan to ride this slumber party train until it stops and the conductor tosses me off.

Make said slumber party a big deal. Annouce the slumber party like it's an event. Talk it up the morning of said slumber party. When it's time, grab every cover and pillow from every room and then visit the neighors and get their covers and pillows. Go crazy on the floor. There's something magical about a dad on the floor with his kids. Watching a movie on the floor immersed in covers and bunnies and bears and various old dolls is magical. There's no magic on the sofa. Same with dinner. While mom's gone, live on the floor at your child's eye level. Add dessert and popcorn and you have the makings of a great evening.

Pro Tip: Make pizzas with your kids. Get them involved. They'll be prone to eat what they help prepare. No need to call delivery either, here's the latest craze at my house, which I was reminded of online:

1. Buy english muffins (or hamburger buns is what we used as kids), tomato sauce (I use garden combo spaghetti sauce, but you do you), shredded mozzerella, parmesan. That's it for the kids, you can add pepperoni and veggies to yours until your heart's content.

2. Toast the bread.

3. Let child spoon sauce on bread

4. Add mozzerella.

5. Dash some parmesan on top.

6. Place in oven at 400 until the cheese melts to your liking (about 5 minutes).

7. Enjoy this delicious simple, healthy pizza with easy clean up and no waste that has built-in bonding. You're welcome. 

But your not an "inside the house" guy like me...

Outside the house: Take the time to attend a local event, go on a walk around your town or try a new restaurant. Let your child pick the place... 

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The Dad of a Teen: I'm less-versed here since I'm not at this stage yet. You'll have to help me in the comments. But, I'm pretty certain teens watch movies, play video games, and eat food. So, here's your chance to connect with your teen eye-to-eye. Do something that will bond you together. I don't think technology is bad, just be mindful of how you use it.

Inside the house: Enjoy a hobby. With your son, what if you spent the evening talking and playing a video game, learning from his mouth why he thinks it's cool? For either your son or daugher, you could cook or sing karoake. Every family has a karaoke machine right? Remember, the point here is to step outside of your normal routine and do something that connects you and your child. 

Outside the house: Go to the mall. Yes, that's right, I said it. Probably not your favorite, but if it's a good way to spend time with your son or daughter, that's what's important, right? Go try all the samples at the food court. Visit a coffee shop and people watch. Dads of teens, help a brother out here. What do y'all do with teens? I'm taking notes for later.

But remember this last tip is for all dads: Whatever you do, don't call your wife unless something emergency-room-worthy happens. Repeat this mantra: Be the dad. 

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The point is, you can make it. No matter the age of your child or the experience you have, you can help your wife get a much-deserved break and feel appreciated all in one night. Get details on the Moms' Night Out movie here.

What's your go-to activity that you and your child enjoy while mom's away?

21 Questions with NFI's Newest Board Member: Chris Efessiou [Interview]

Get to know our newest board member, Chris Efessiou, in 21 questions. 

chris_efessiou_headshot_board_memberMr. Chris Efessiou is NFI's newest board member. The author, speaker, radio host and media personality has founded, co-founded, developed, and managed multiple successful enterprises—all the while being an involved, responsible, and committed father. Who is this busy dad and what makes him passionate about serving fathers?

Allow me to introduce to you, Mr. Chris Efessiou:

1) Name and title? Chris Efessiou, PhD

2) Place of birth? I was born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece, and came to the United States at age 18 with the goal to get myself accepted into college.

3) Current home location? My wife Juliana and I live in Vienna, Virginia.

4) Number and ages of children? Juliana and I are blessed with four adult daughters. While three girls are hers and one is mine from a previous marriage, the closeness of this blended family is beyond our wildest dreams. Alexis and Jessica live in Los Angeles, and Hilary and Persephone live in the DC area.

5) What do you do for a living? I am the founder and CEO of SRxA Strategic Pharmaceutical Advisors, a consulting firm providing marketing and education strategy to the pharmaceutical industry.

6) What made you decide to serve on NFI's Board? I raised my daughter as a single dad since she was 7.  She is now 26, a loving, compassionate, unentitled, successful young woman whom I admire. I served as both parents to her and she credits me for who she has become today. I loved the experience and felt that if I could help another father to see the beauty and value of fatherhood, that I could be helping the shaping of a young person’s life. That is what NFI does, and that is why I am honored to serve on its board. 

7) What was your first car? A 20 year old, third hand, 1961 VW bug with half its floor gone and only 3 cylinders firing on any given day. Yet, it was my first set of 4 wheels, albeit barely in place, it got me to and from school and work and to this day, I am supremely proud of it.

scan00158) What was your first job? When I lived in Greece I worked in my father's shop in the summers doing minor repairs. He was an electrician. While I never learned to work with electricity, I was thrilled to have my dad to myself the entire day and to be exposed to his business acumen. I asked questions endlessly, and tried to understand every business move he made and why he made it. It all paid off later in my life.

9) Lamest gift you ever gave your dad? A hug and a kiss. At the time it felt lame and cheap. When I became a father, I realized that it was the best gift I could have given him.

10) Best advice you ever received? "The three ingredients of a successful union between two...humor, commitment & undying love." —Bill Cosby

11) One thing you always carry with you? Pictures of my family on my phone. I make it a point to look through them, particularly on long flights, and reflect upon them. It is also a good opportunity to say "Thank You God" for giving me the good fortune to have this family.

12) One thing you wish you could do more? I am a licensed pilot and love to fly whenever I have the time. I find that instrument flight requires absolute attention to every detail. Flying is the only time I know that I can purge my head from everything else and enjoy the 30,000 foot view. It is a sense of freedom and reflection. I'd love to do it more frequently but other commitments get in the way.

13) Man who most changed your life? My father. He was part dictator and part mentor. I always liked to analyze the way he thought and tried to understand why he made the decisions he made. I loved his innovative spirit and the fact that he could always find a way to accomplish what needed doing. Learning by watching him in my youth, paid handsome dividends in my adult life especially when I first came to the U.S. without knowledge of English and had to compete on the same field as everyone else. Yes, innovation and a can-do attitude work!

14) Thing you’re always telling your children? Find something you love doing, and find a way to make a living at it. Then you'll never have to work a day in your life

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15) Dinner with famous dad: who? why? 
Bill Cosby. He single-handedly formed my early opinions of what kind of father I wanted to be through his book Fatherhood and later his TV show. Above all, he taught me the value of humor. I want to have dinner with him to thank him for what he's done for all fathers and to discuss with him my book CDO Chief Daddy Officer - The Business of Fatherhood. I'd love to know what he thinks of it.

16) Article of clothing every dad should own? An extra light coat in your car. Your wife and kids, especially daughters, would typically under-dress and you'd soon find yourself covering one of them with your own jacket. If you don't like feeling cold, you'd be well served by having an extra one nearby.

17) Book every dad should read? Fatherhood by Bill Cosby, and CDO Chief Daddy Officer - The Business of Fatherhood by Chris Efessiou  

18) Thing a dad should know about money? You can make it, save it, invest it, spend it, or give it away. Every dad should know the value of each, and teach it to his children.

19) Advice for a new dad? Always do what's best for your child, even if that's not the best for you. Always remember that children are smarter than we give them credit for. Don't underestimate their intellect or overestimate yours!

20) The “secret” to being a great dad? Always be emotionally available, and when able, be physically present. Nothing elevates a child's self esteem more than to know that he or she is important to you, and that their importance is acknowledged not by words, but by your actions. Remember, nothing speaks louder than your presence and there is no excuse for emotional absence.

21) To what are you most looking forward? Silly as it may sound, I look forward to the day that my daughter has a child so that I can relive those beautiful memories one more time.

The Affects of an Emotionally Unavailable Dad

I am a woman and the middle child squeezed between two brothers. We were all born in the mid to late fifties. There were a lot of shows on television at the time about perfect families like "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver" that idealized what families of the day looked like. 

We lived in a very nice middle class neighborhood in a ranch style home. This was not our first home, but in this home I was at the age that I could recall events and could describe to you every room in the house. This is where we all predominantly went to grade school and my older brother started Junior High. 

affects of emotionally unavailable dadOur dad always worked and always provided a nice home and furnishings. He always had a job and took care of all of our needs. Mom stayed home because that was the way dad wanted it and she was a terrific housewife because that is where she excelled. Those were the days when the housewives you saw on television were in dresses and pearls vacuuming the carpet and it was pretty close to true at my house as well. Maybe not the pearls but Mom was always in a dress.

It all appears, as do the television programs, that on the surface we had the perfect family. But even though Dad took care of all the necessities of life he was and always has been emotionally unavailable. The only time you ever had conversations with my dad that I can remember was when you were in trouble. And that was not a time you wanted to talk to him, believe me. We were all pretty traumatized by Dad; every time we walked past him we would cringe and my oldest brother got to the place that he would duck and cover because he was always in trouble.

As a girl I longed to be Daddy’s little girl. My dad was a salesman and a good one. He was sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when we were around other people. My mom and dad had couple friends that they would invite over for dinner on occasion. One of them had a little girl that was a few years younger than I was. I am not trying to be mean or vindictive but she was not a pretty little girl. My dad would pick her up and put her on his lap and be so sweet to her. I would look on and wonder what was wrong with me. I would go into the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror. All I would see was me, I did not know if I was pretty but I thought I must not be because Daddy does not think I am.

Over the years I have had great difficulty in relationships because of my relationship with my dad. I never felt worthy of anyone’s love and would bend over backwards trying to please men to get them to love me. I was needy and hurt easily which was not a recipe for success in relationships. I set myself up to be hurt with men that were just like Dad because that is where my comfort zone was. 

I spent a lifetime doing everything I could to win Dad’s love and approval. My brothers were doing the same thing except that after awhile they became angry and had nothing to do with him. They were seeking his approval and I was seeking his love.

My oldest brother and I were talking the other day about Dad. He passed away several years ago now. We were talking about the way he was with grades when we were growing up, if you got an A he would ask why you did not get an A plus. If you got a C or below you were grounded for the next semester, and we all pretty much stayed grounded.

We shared the one time in our lives that Daddy ever said he was proud of us. My brother thought it would be when he graduated college or got his masters degree but it was not. I had some moments in my life when I thought he would break forth in praise but it did not come. My brother shared with me that Dad told him before he passed away what his proudest moment was and we looked at each other and kind of shrugged. In the middle of my brother’s Senior year of high school Dad had gotten a transfer. My brother was a star football player. After we moved it was horrible because we had moved south and it was not long after desegregation had taken place. It was absolutely awful for all of us but especially him.

He got on a bus and went back to our home town and lived with some friends. He finished high school and never called home for help in any way. Dad had said he would not help but we all knew that anyway. Dad told him that this was the proudest he had ever been of him. Not the great accomplishments of his life, just that he never asked for help and he made it through high school. Don’t get me wrong, I can see it making a Dad proud but this typifies my Dad.

Was your dad emotionally available or emotionally unavailable? Why or why not? How has your dad's fathering shaped your view of parenting?

Single White Moms Should Say Yes to Father Involvement

Christopher Brown recently wrote an article for The Huffington Post in response to an article on Slate.com about white, working-class mothers and father involvement. In his rebuttal, he points out not what one person's story is, but what decades of research has to say about the importance of father involvement for the sake of the child.

Chris responds to an article in Slate titled, Just Say No: For white working-class women, it makes sense to stay single mothers by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone as "the latest attempt to devalue the role of fathers."

to working-class white mothersHe says, "Despite decades of research to the contrary, this article implies that fathers are not important to the well-being of children. But it does so in the very pernicious way that has become the tactic du jour of individuals who continue to disregard mountains of evidence on the importance of fathers."

While Cahn and Carbone, writers of the original article, share the story of Lily, a single working-class mom who decided to raise her child without the involvement of Carl, an "unemployed loser who sits around all day drinking with his buddies and playing video games. Lily doesn't want to commit to Carl." Her thinking? Why support herself and her child and risk marrying a guy she can't financially support or trust. 

Chris says to this point:

As the father of two girls, I wouldn't want either of them to date, much less marry, a guy like Carl. And I certainly wouldn't want them to have my grandchildren with him! Selfishly, I look forward to bonding with my future sons-in-law in ways other than playing World of Warcraft.

But what's the problem with taking one story of one woman's life and projecting it onto the bigger narrative of society? Chris continues:

The problem with Cahn's and Carbone's use of Lily's example is that it deflects attention from what children need to thrive: an involved, responsible, committed father. And it symbolizes what marriage has become for so many Americans: a way to fulfill their own desire for finding a soul mate who can complete them and make life wonderful, rather than as a means for raising children who thrive. The authors' tactic prevents us from seeing and discussing the indisputable fact that raising children without involved fathers places them at much higher risk for a range of poor outcomes and causes the ills we see in so much of society.

In their column, Cahn and Carbone "unintentionally reduce the contribution of fathers to that of a bank account," says Chris. And, their focus seems to be on the mother instead of the child. Chris wants readers to take a step back, reflect and ask this question of Lily: "Why did you have sex with this guy in the first place knowing that he is such a loser?" Chris continues, "Not asking this question is another symptom of a reactive culture that would rather argue about what to do after the bomb goes off than what needs to be done to keep it from being built in the first place."

Chris calls for all of us to reflect on and correct the problem with this article and the way of thinking it represents. Ask yourself this question with this article: where is our focus? If the focus is too far on the mother or father, a red flag should go up. As Chris makes clear, "Our focus should be on what is best for children...when fathers are encouraged and educated about being involved, responsible, and committed fathers, children, moms, and dads are better off."

Read the full article from Christopher Brown in The Huffington Post.

Have you read the article? What's your thoughts on what it takes to make a strong family?

 

Prepping for Mom's Night Out

I recently screened the new parenting movie, Moms' Night Out. While laughing my way through the movie, I found myself connecting with one dad trying to get his wife to take a break.

As this post's title implies, there should be a mom's night out on the horizon for your family, too. But, from the intelligence I've gathered, moms feel guilty about leaving and taking a break. So, dad, it's on you to help make the mom in your life happy.

MNO_OfficialPoster-2Whichever parent stays home every day with the kids needs breaks, and often. Emphasis on often. In this movie's case and in my life, mom is home everyday to take care of our kids. This post is meant to prep you, dad, for taking the lead in getting mom away for her much-needed rest. My next post in this series will be all about what to do with your kids once mom actually leaves the house.

I have experienced bliss in my married and parenting life. I've seen it, felt it, I know what it looks like. I've been married to my college sweetheart for ten years (11 years this October). If I was an NFL player, I'd be a veteran. You'd have to listen to me in the locker room. I want you to experience marital and parenting bliss, too. Bliss only shows up for the relaxed. It's funny how bliss works.

I'm suggesting two things for Operation: Keep Your Wife Sane. You must take the lead on giving the mom in your life these two things:

1) The Daily Break

2) The Weekly Break

I implied earlier that I "gathered intelligence"; i.e., I talked to my wife, Tonia. She says, and I'm pretty sure she speaks for all moms ever, one of biggest challenges a mom can face, especially a new mom, is the feeling of guilt about leaving your children. There's always "something else" to be done which often becomes an excuse for not taking a much-needed break.

In the Moms' Night Out movie, we gather from Sean Astin's character that he's "all in" on his wife taking a break, and he rejoices that she actually has a night out planned at the start of the film.

He has things "under control", so to speak, in that he's encouraging her to go out with friends and relax. Imagine the stressed-out mom with the husband who acts weird if his wife mentions needing a break. We don't want to be that dad, right?

Here's some things that, when I'm operating this life correctly, I know work. When I do these things, life is better for everyone in my home and around my home. I promise. Trust me and do these things.

1) The Daily Break: The point of the daily break is that you can't realistically give your wife five hours or more of rest per day. She, like you, has a job to do, and it must be done daily. However, without little nuggets of bliss on a daily basis, your other half may forget what freedom feels like. 

What's my point here? Maybe you're thinking one hour per day is tough depending on the age of your child. But the point here is to give your wife solace daily for at least 30 minutes or more. When she wakes in the morning, she should know that she has this certain time of the day that's hers. She owns it. She can nap. She can fish. She can write a novel. Play Uno. Shower a long time. I don't know what your woman likes to do, but the point is to take small breaks. It's the small breaks that will keep everyone sane in this life.

Try this pro tip: Text your wife this message right now (the earlier in the day the better):

"My Dearest Sexy Pants (or insert your wife's pet name here), I know it's hard out there for a mom. But, I'll be home this evening to make your life easier. Be ready with car keys in hand waiting at the door for me. Once I arrive, kiss me on the face and go directly to Starbucks for at least one hour. Do not try and return to this house before at least one hour is up. My Gold Card is loaded for all that your heart so desires. Go crazy, get a cake pop. I mean, we can handle it, the Gold Card has like $11.13 on it. You're good. I love you. You're welcome. PS: Please, do come back home later."

Yes, it's a long text message. But, trust me and reap the rewards. Tips can be left as donations to NFI.

2) The Weekly Break: This break may or may not be realistic depending on the ages of your children. But, with a 7 and 4 year at my house, I find my wife needs more of a rest/disengagement than just the daily, short break given that she's running one child all over the world and at home with one all day. If weekly doesn't work, you should definitely shoot for monthly.

Girls night out is a real thing, dad. It matters. They usually happen weekly and you should make sure they happen. This can be anywhere from two to three hours. Be prepared. It doesn't have to be any longer if it's happening as often as it should. But this break is less introverted in nature compared to the daily break. I'm assuming that the small, daily breaks are "alone time" for your wife. The weekly break is her time to have fun and look forward to being out with other adult friends every so often.

What was the last thing you did to give your wife a break? Seriously, I want to know, I'm taking notes. 

Follow Moms' Night Out Movie on Facebook and Visit Moms' Night Out Movie online for more. Check out the official trailer and be sure you have May 9th on your calendar to keep the kids.

Are You a Stressed Dad? Learn How to Manage Work & Family Today!

I recently wrote 6 Steps for Stress-Less Living for Manilla.com. In that post I wrote, "If you feel stressed out, it’s your fault." I think I still mean it. Here's why: stress happens. The only thing you can control is how you think and what you do. The following list is meant to be simple. It's meant to remind you of the things that you can control.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Do These 6 Things to Conquer Your Week!

When dad is unhealthy, his child is more likely to be unhealthy. It's the power of example. What you model to your child often comes back to you.

While this is scary, there's a deeper level of scary at play. The health issue is generational. What you do, as a dad, changes a life. How you live and what you teach your child, your child is more likely to teach to his child.

When a dad is involved in his child's life, he can expect:

  • better overall infant health
  • reduction in the likelihood that his child will smoke or abuse drugs
  • more likely to have a stronger vocabulary
  • perform better in school
  • have a healthier weight

Mental health and fatherly involvement is no different. Someone smarter than me said this: the mind and body are one. If you have a problem with your mental health, it will show up in your body. If you have a problem with the health of your body, it will affect your mind, how you see the world and how you treat people.

We need to get serious; not stressed, but serious, about how we can "get back to basics" and find ways to reduce stress and live happier lives. These are a few basics where I easily go astray.

In order to manage work and family, try these six steps to help combat stress in your life.

1) Exercise: We need to be active. I'm so new at this, but coming home from work and sitting on the sofa isn't as relaxing as you think. I haven't yet conquered "the morning workout" so I come home and immediately change into workout clothes. If I don't do this, exercise will not happen. Getting active will change your life. Trust this skeptic, you only think you don't have the energy to exercise. You will have more energy if you can find a few minutes to exercise. You will feel better if you walk or jog for 30 minutes each day. Get outside when possible. Your body and mind will thank you.

2) Eat “clean”: Over the last year, I’ve lost over 45 pounds. I’ve done wrong things and right things. But my diet has been the single craziest thing I’ve learned to manage, some days, eh, some hours!

Your schedule and your diet are often closely linked. The busier you are the worse you may eat. Healthy eating takes planning. Aside from the occasional, weekend Chipotle (not an official sponsor of this post...someone should tell them they can be!), I'm cooking from home. I know exactly what's in my food because I put it there.

One cheeseburger won’t kill you, but if your diet consists of mostly processed or fast foods it's time to change your diet. Force yourself to try new things like raw veggies and peppers and grill everything! I haven't had a burger in months; now I want one!

3) Sleep: I don’t have this one figured out yet. I still blame my daughters for this even though they are seven and four years old now. Shoot for at least six to eight (ha) hours of sleep a night.

Work in a nap of 20 minutes during the day if you can’t get enough sleep. Simply a few minutes of closing your eyes and breathing will do wonders to help reduce stress. I've read where naps allow folks to get twice as much done in one day as folks who aren't nappers. Yes, "nappers" is a word. I just wrote it.

4) Keep Work at Work: Bringing your work home is a fine way to stress yourself and your family. The secreat to how to balance work and family is this: Leave your work at the door. Not really "at the door." If left "at the door" your work may get rained on unless you have a front porch. In which case, you shouldn't bring your work to your front porch.

I've gotten into the weeds, but here's my point: Stop your car in your driveway; do something, anything, to separate your mind from work before entering your home. Home has its own work. I'm terrible at this. If you have tips that work, tell me in the comments, I'd love to know! It's the iPhone that's my ultimate problem. I'm an addict. I must stop!

5) Date your Spouse: No spouse? Find a friend and get out of the house! The point here is to get out periodically and do something you enjoy. Date your spouse or find a buddy and get to dinner, movie...something. For those with spouses, think about this: a guaranteed way to increase stress is to stop communicating or spending time with your spouse. Not that I have any experience at all with increase my wife's stress. Oh no, not me. I'm perfect and always date my wife periodically!

6) Find a Hobby: A hobby will take your mind off of "stuff." Find something that takes your time and energy completely out of work and "stuff." Something you really enjoy. Experiment with photography, running, anything (that's legal) where you can't be thinking about work while you're doing. What's that one thing that when you do it, time flies by? That's probably a great hobby.

The point with these tips is that you can help get your family healthy while leading by example. Learn to how to be an active dad. If you are healthy, odds are good that your child will be healthy. As dad goes, so goes the family.

What's the one step where you need the most work? Talk to me in the comments or using #247Dad on social.

Interacting with Your Tween or Teen: Rational Communication Trumps a Lecture

Almost every parent has experienced the glossy-eyed look teens and tweens give when he or she is getting lectured. While some of the words you are saying may sink into their heads, it's more likely that the child is thinking of other things such as a favorite video game or the new girl or boy in school. It's because you are providing a speech that the child simply finds boring.

Instead of giving a lecture about rules or behaviors, engage the child in rational communication. I say "rational" because you need to have a calm disposition instead of being driven by anger or frustration. By everyone taking a few moments to catch a breath, a more meaningful and productive communication can be achieved. How do you engage a child to communicate rather than standing on your soapbox and wagging a finger?

how to really communicate with your teenInteraction - Communication is a two-way street. You need to know what your child is thinking about the topic in order to know he or she is actually paying attention. By offering a way for children to answer questions or interact within the topic, you are forcing them to think about the subject in order to formulate a response. If he or she is thinking about the material, there is a greater chance that it will become more permanent instead of flowing in through one ear and out the other.

Yes, No and I Don't Know - Instead of asking questions of your children that can be answered with "yes" and "no," ask questions that rely more on a tangible answer. It's too easy to force out a quick one word response to a question. However, it makes the brain work if you ask a question where the answer can be a short sentence or two. As we wrote recently in another blog post titled, What Really Matters to Your Child's Success in School, teaching your child to ask critical questions to you and others is a learned skill and will help your child learn that he or she can challenge others (and think), respectfully, for themselves. If your child falls back on the "I don't know" response, then you need to try harder to ask a question that requires deeper thought. Your child's mind is like a combination lock; you need to keep spinning the dial in order to get it to open up.

Privacy - Depending on the situation, a teen can feel ultimately more comfortable if other family members or friends are not around. Essentially, you could take your teen to a park and have a discussion about any topic, at which point he or she would feel more comfortable than speaking in front of relatives. It's a matter of embarrassing the child and he or she needs to feel safe that they can open up without being gawked at. Make it a private bonding moment that you and your child share that is your own. For instance, you could take your teen to the park with a couple of sodas once per week to discuss anything he or she wants. 

Emotional Status - As mentioned earlier, the emotional status of the parties involved will make a profound impact in how well the communication will unfold. There can be no anger between you and each party must be relaxed in order to think rationally. Depending on the situation, this could take anywhere from an hour to a couple of days. However, the effect on the communication will be more than worth the wait.

When you and the child begin yelling at each other, the communication is over. It turns into a shouting match of each one trying to hurt the other. When the situation escalates to such degrees, then there is no benefit with continuing the discussion. Take a few deep breaths and approach the subject again when you and the child have had a chance to calm down and think about the problem.

Issuing a Challenge to Unwed Fathers

In a scene as dramatic as any in reality television, New Jersey mother Rebecca DeLuccia testified from the delivery room that the father of her child should not be allowed to attend the birth of his child.

She testified via phone before Superior Court Judge Sohail Mohammed who issued a ruling barring the father, Joseph Plotnick, from the delivery room. Plotnick had sued--after DeLuccia went into labor--to attend the delivery. DeLuccia wanted no part of that.

nj court ruling blocking newborn's dad from delivery roomPlotnick argued that he had a right to bond with his child from the moment of the child's birth. Judge Mohammed didn't agree, although he acknowledged Plotnick's desire was "laudable." In explaining his decision, Judge Mohammed said that the attendance of Plotnick would "invade [Rebecca's] sphere of privacy and force the mother to provide details of her medical condition to a person she does not desire to share that information with."

But the primary reason for his ruling was based on the opinion that "any interest a father has before a child's birth is subordinate to the mother's interests." It was, apparently, the first ruling of its kind ever in the U.S., and it symbolizes the circumstantial and legal challenges that many unwed fathers face in gaining access to their children, one that is all too familiar to the many practitioners and organizations that use NFI's programs and resources to connect unwed fathers to their children and improve the relationships between unwed fathers and mothers. (The good news from the father's and child's perspective is that DeLuccia had no problem with Plotnick seeing his child after the birth.)



As you might imagine, reactions to the ruling have been mixed. Some reactions have been passionate in defense of the mother's or father's rights. What I found interesting, however, is not what was said about the rights of the parents but was not said. No one asked the most important question: Why did this situation arise in the first place?

It arose because DeLuccia and Plotnick conceived a child before they were committed to each other. They had been engaged to be married after they learned of her pregnancy, but then they decided to break it off with very little contact between them leading up to the birth.

Apparently, they didn't like each other much. And it's likely they were ignorant about the fact that the most significant predictor of whether a father is involved in the life of his child is whether he's married to the mother.

No one wants to ask the really tough questions about why we've reached the point where nearly half of all births are to unwed parents. We have to challenge men and women to take responsibility for and think through their actions before they have children, not after.

This challenge must start when men and women are still children and continue unabated until their behavior reflects that they understand the consequences of having children before they're committed to a life in which they raise their children in the same home as they other parent. 



What are practitioners and programs that serve unwed fathers supposed to do about this issue? They might think they have no role in addressing it because they engage these fathers after the fact, so there isn't a need to issue this challenge. I disagree.

One of the most significant challenges I hear from practitioners and programs is how difficult it is to work with fathers who have children by multiple mothers. How are they supposed to get fathers involved with all of their children? Do they have to "pick and choose" which children to become involved with? These are incredibly valid and troubling questions.

The reason to issue this challenge--to help fathers understand how their behavior put them in their situation--is that it's vital to preventing them from continuing to engage in that behavior. It's never too late to help fathers connect the dots.

Is your organization "father friendly"?

Justin Bieber's Missing Something

Former NFI President and now board member, Roland Warren, recently wrote an article in The Huffingon Post titled "The Hole in Justin Bieber's Soul" where he explains what he thinks is missing in Bieber's life...and what us dads can learn from it.

Warren recalls seeing the recent cover of Rolling Stone, which features the shirtless Justin Bieber with the caption, "Bad Boy -- Why Justin Bieber Just Won't Behave."

Upon opening the magazine to find "a series of disturbing pictures of Bieber," he found the following paragraph:

Late on a Monday night in mid-January a slightly stoned Justin Bieber leans back on a couch in a North Miami strip club's weed-scented VIP room, casually accepting lap dance after lap dance... More than once, Bieber pauses mid-grind to lean over and fist bump his dad, a hard-eyed 38-year-old who's always up for some family fun. Jeremy Bieber split with Justin's mom when Justin was a toddler, and wasn't around afterward. But, he has, as of late, accepted the place of honor in his superstar son's entourage. The position comes with perks: Jeremy, a tatted up former carpenter and pro-am mixed martial arts fighter, sips beer while enjoying the overflow from his 19-year-old son's parade of strippers.

justin bieber rolling stone article coverRoland points out that while he's not necessarily "in the 'Belieber' demographic," he has followed his rise from YouTube. Interestingly enough, Warren says of Beiber, "I was drawn to him and I soon found out why: Like me, he was a son who grew up without his father."

Mr. Warren doesn't mix words, writing: "I am a wounded soul and believe that Bieber is too. Why? Because a father's rejection is a deep, and often, unnoticed wound that can fester for years. I know mine did. Only someone who should love you deeply and unconditionally can hurt you deeply by rejecting you unconditionally."

Roland maps out his concerns about Bieber's growing celebrity, based on his decades of personal and professional experience of working with men affected by father absence. Two observations from Roland stand out to me. Warren says:

1) If Bieber had the kind of father who would leave him as a toddler, when Beiber was his most vulnerable, he had the kind of father who would seek to re-enter his life when Bieber was his most successful.

2) Bieber would probably let his father in—regardless how dysfunctional the relationship, and the objections of his mother.

Why did Roland make these two observations? Because as he points out, "there is a pull much stronger than the strongest mother's apron strings that beckons a son from boyhood to manhood. It's the pull of his father's 'presence,' even if his father is absent."

Roland understands from not only his own experience but from countless men he's worked with, that "A son has to make sense of his relationship with his father. He has to determine what it means to be a man...so, a boy's destiny is linked to his father's history."

Roland doesn't just leave us with cultural commentary; no, he provides answers as to what we should do as a community given that Bieber isn't alone. Sure, Bieber's a celebrity, but when it comes to boys who grow up without their dads at home, Bieber has a lot of company.  

What are we to do with the "one out of three kids, two out of three in the African-American community, grow(ing) up in father-absent homes?" 

Roland offers insight into what must be done to "heal the wounds of these boys:"

1) We must acknowledge the wounds exists and their impact on a boy's life. As Roland sees too often, we don't acknowledge the issues. Instead, we act as though, "fathers don't matter."

2) We must acknowledge the link between fatherhood and healthy marriages, because research shows marriage is the best societal glue to connect fathers to their children.

Knowing this information, Roland distills the lessons for fathers like you and I in all of this. There are lessons for the dads reading here that may have abandon their child. But also, there are lessons for the dads reading this who are in the game.

These lessons are discussed thoroughly in the book titled, Bad Dads of the Bible: 8 Mistakes Every Good Dad Can Avoid. But for our purposes here, please understand that Jeremy Bieber certainly made a mistake by abandoning his son. But, don't miss the other lessons around this unfolding story. Justin's dad (Jeremy) "has committed other mistakes as well," as Roland writes:

You see, a good father doesn't exploit the hole in his son's wounded soul to enjoy the "overflow" of his son's reckless response to his father's absence. He is careful to be a healer, not an enabler of bad behavior. Moreover, a good father provides, nurtures and guides. He doesn't prey on his child's vulnerabilities and insecurities. After all, there is a long line of folks willing to do this, especially if you're Justin Bieber. You see, Justin Bieber doesn't need his father to be his lap dance pal or pot-smoking buddy. He needs Jeremy Bieber to be a good dad now. He needs his father to grow up, step up, and "daddy up" before it's too late. So, why won't Justin Bieber behave? Unfortunately, the sad answer is just a fist bump away.

Dad, use this story as a reminder, that you and I are just a few decisions away from missing something.

Celebrating 20 Years of Changing Fatherhood: Jerre Fields (Video)

Fatherhood Changes Everything… And We’ve Changed Fatherhood!

20 year fatherhood changes everything

This is a special year for us at NFI. It marks our 20th year of working to “change fatherhood” by ending father absence and connecting fathers to their children.

To celebrate the fathers and families whose lives we’ve turned around, we launched this series of videos, blog posts, photographs, and stories to highlight how our work has strengthened fatherhood since 1994.

At NFI, we know that Fatherhood Changes Everything.

From poverty, to crime, to school achievement, to child abuse – every issue we care about is affected by whether or not a child has an involved, responsible, and committed father. We know that when we connect a father to his child, heart to heart, lives change, communities change, and our entire nation is transformed.

celebrating 20 years of changing fatherhoodThis video reveals how NFI’s programs affect an individual life. This is one story out of many. But each video in this series was created from the book “Choosing Fatherhood: America’s Second Chance,” a photography book created by Lewis Kostiner. Lewis spent years going around the country, photographing dads who were going through NFI’s programs at community-based organizations in their neighborhoods. The result was a compelling photo book telling the stories of dads working hard to make their children’s lives better.

In this video, we spotlight Jerre Fields, who attended an NFI workshop in his community to learn how to be a better dad. Read his words or listen to them on the video, they are a powerful if you take time to listen.

Let Jerre's words serve as a great reminder that you, dad, serve the vital role your child needs, that every child needs.

 Can't view the video? Click here.

"My advice to other dads? Get involved with your family. Make sure that you're there with them every day, from the morning through the evening. Just try to keep up with the education. Education is the number-one thing when you're raising your kids, so that they can definitely have a better way of life once they leave the home. Just talking to your kids, playing games every day will help their social skills a lot better once they are able to get out there in the real world. Just all the love you can give them, hugs, just reading stories at night is one of the best things I can see now and maybe in my past." —Jerre Fields (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

How has fatherhood changed you? Tell us in the comments!

It’s Time to Change the Landscape for Dads…

We all have a social responsibility to engage more dads in the parenting process.

Father-absence affects about 24 million children in America, and it’s spreading. It’s linked to higher rates of poverty, failure in school, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, violent crime, ill-health and depression, and ultimately a loss of hope. Our children are growing up in that culture, and that’s recipe for disaster.

dad_convention_bannerIn the last 20 years as a lawyer, consultant, and publisher I have connected with thousands of parents (male and female) who agree that fathers' roles and ability in raising healthy children are so often underplayed and unappreciated.

There is too much divisiveness in parenting, and it has gone on for long enough. My mission is to create an environment of co-operation and respect, involving parents of both genders in a meaningful dialogue.

There is so much conflict and gender divisiveness in parenting, which just has to cease! The question now is how to execute the changes, and by creating a reasoned dialogue I just know that the decision makers will eventually be forced to put the needs of parents and families first! It's a concern to see the messages that are conveyed about dads in the media. 

As a generational issue, in the past, boys were shown how to be a stereotypical man, but never how to be a dad, so there has been a built-in parental disadvantage from the get-go. But this generation of dads wants to give much more nurturing to our children than our fathers gave to us.

So I’m doing something about it…I’m honored that so many amazing parents, nationally-renowned parent celebrities, expert speakers, business owners and national organizations are lending their support to the initiative to support and engage a generation of dads in the parenting process, and the spearhead is the one-day celebration of change, The Every Thing For Dads Convention 2014, on March 15 in Sarasota, Florida.

dadconventionbrandsWhy is this event so important? Here are 10 reasons:

1) IT’S REAL! People love Every Thing For Dads because it's 100% specifically about REAL DADS living REAL LIVES. It’s not a popularity contest about who knows the most, or who has the most popular social media following, it’s about sharing experiences and finding answers.

2) IT’S PRACTICAL. All aspects of the event have a "how to" approach to everyday situations. After all, nothing else can truly prepare you for the surprise and wonderment that is dadhood. We all need work and life balance in our busy lives.

3) IT’S A CELEBRATION! Celebrate your “Dad Factor”! Now 70% of the estimated 64 million fathers in the United States are hands on and want to keep their families first on their list of priorities. That’s a lot of noise...so let’s hear what they have to say!

4) IT’S EDUCATIONAL, YET ENTERTAINING…AND CHEAP! Get a pair of tickets for only $99 each, and if you are low-income or a non-for-profit, further concessions are still available. Turn your most difficult job into the most enjoyable job, for life.

5) IT’S A HANG OUT! Come and celebrate with Star Dads (and Moms) who are also passionate about being great dads and share your stories at our VIP Meet and Greet, Dads Town Hall Q and A, and celebrate fatherhood at the Mega Dads Awards.

6) IT’S A MOVIE! Dads live attendees will be filmed sharing their best dad tips for a documentary project on modern fatherhood.

7) IT’S A CHANCE TO SHARE YOUR VIEWS! Here’s your chance to have a voice - you'll be part of an incredibly large campaign to involve, educate and improve the lives of dads and families without having to shout.

8) IT’S YOUR CHANCE TO FESS UP! Every parent makes mistakes from time-to-time...oh, you thought it was only you? You’ll be amazed just how many do, but just don’t ‘fess up! Here’s your chance to learn, laugh and share with dads who aren’t afraid to show they care...in a very manly way of course (just kidding...real men do cry...really we do).

9) IT’S CHANCE TO LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE! You’ll have a chance to learn about how to communicate in a non-judgmental and inclusive environment.

10) IT’S JUST THE BEGINNING! Every Thing For Dads Foundation www.everythingfordads.com will be coming to town near you, in the most accessible ways, to support, teach and engage dads and families from all walks of life. If dads are taught how to be happy and healthy engaged fathers, children, wives and partners all benefit.

…and let’s face it, if the happiness, healthiness and burgeoning opportunity for advancement of parents and children is not the goal for society, then what is the point of living?

So, dads and moms, please come and support the Every Thing For Dads Convention, and let’s make the decision that opportunity, education and health for 21st Century children and families must come first. Even if you can’t make it, please help this movement, and make sure that you tell other parents that help is here; we’d love to ‘virtually” meet you!.

Tickets are limited, and available at http://www.birthandbeyondmagazine.com/abouttheconvention/ or feel free to message me at mailto:jimmckenzie@everythingfordads.com

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

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