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The Father Factor


Why is Daniel Murphy's Paternity Leave a Story?

I realize that there's some inherent level of stupidity in "viral" discussions, but still, what seems to be behind the latest argument is surprisingly anti-fatherhood.

daniel-murphy-ny-metsEarlier this week New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy exercised a clause in his Major League Baseball contract that allows him to skip a few games for paternity leave so he could be present at his first child's birth, and subsequently stay with his wife and new baby for a few days before he goes back to his grueling pro athlete schedule.

In response, a couple of sports commentators at WFAN radio in New York City not only criticized him on air for not prioritizing his obligation to the team properly (they apparently think paternity leave is stupid and not for "real men"), but even suggested that his wife should have had a c-section so the birth would have been more conveniently scheduled between Mets games.

Obviously, these two guys are chowderheads just looking for publicity (which I'm trying to avoid by not naming them here), but it still raises the question: why is this a story that's gotten any attention in the first place?

What really bothers me is that we are still at a point where men need to lobby for paternity leave and where other men are unsupportive when a father decides to take some time off from his job to be with his wife and newborn child... and that we are still at a point where this is even a discussion at all.

I believe Murphy is absolutely right to make this decision regardless of the consequences for the NY Mets baseball team, and that the WFAN commentators are just showing that they deserve our pity and our sympathy for being knuckle-dragging primates in the modern world.

What's your take? Should the needs of the team ever outweigh family, and if so, when?

And congratulations to Daniel and his wife on the addition of a new family member.

"Home Run" on DVD July 23!

"I spent a lifetime looking to replace the love I didn't get from my father." —Cory Brand

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the DVD release of Home Run on July 23.

Can't view the video? Click here.

You may recall, we wrote a blog post for this faith-based film while it was in theaters called The Possibility of Freedom. If you love us, click and read the full post, here's an excerpt from that profound and life-changing blog post:

  • Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull DurhamFor the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements: 1) There's something bigger than yourself for which to live. 2) It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life. In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself.

Want more details on the film? Keep reading...

From the Home Run website:

  • Baseball all-star Cory Brand knows what it takes to win in the big leagues. But off the field, with memories of his past haunting him, his life is spiraling out of control. Hoping to save her client’s career and reputation after a DUI and a team suspension, Cory’s agent sends him back to the small town where he grew up. 
  • Forced to coach the local youth baseball team and spend eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Cory can’t wait to return to his old life as quickly as possible. As his young players help him experience the joy of the game, Cory discovers his need to find freedom from his past and hope for his future…and win back the love he left behind. With this unexpected second chance, Cory finds himself on a powerful journey of transformation and redemption.
What People Have Said After Watching Home Run...
home run the movie dvd
"Home Run is a film of great hope." —Rick Warren, Pastor and Best-Selling Author
"It's a wonderful movie. It touches your heart in a way that will change your life." —Brett Butler, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"Home Run is a powerful parable showing us what God can do for a person who hits bottom. Many who come from dysfunctional homes or deal with addictions will find a ray of hope as they watch this film. This is a tool churches and ministries can use now and for decades to come." —Michael Catt, Best-Selling Author; Senior Pastor, Sherwood Baptist Church; Executive Producer, Fireproof and Courageous
"Home Run is not only a great movie, it's a story of hope that people have to see. " —Dwight Evans, Former All-Star Baseball Player
"It's a powerful movie. I have to be honest it was emotional for me to watch." —Ben Zobrist, All-Star Baseball Player

Follow Home Run via Social...

Home Run DVD releases on July 23. See our Home Run page for more details. 

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5 Father's Day Commercials that May Make You Shed Man Tears

Much like Chuck Norris, I don't cry. Every so often, around Father's Day-Month, I may or may not "shed man tears." But I don't cry—ever. Shedding man tears is something wholly other—yet emotionally significant. June is a tough month for we dads to watch commercials. It seems for a few days, the world stops and turns, then turns more and lands on fathers for a few hours before rotating to Fourth of July sales. While we dads like our Fourth of July sales too, hardly have Independence Day commercials made us cry, er, shed man tears, which is different, not crying, no.

I give you NFI's list of five Father's Day commercials that may cause you to shed man tears.

Tide and Downy Commercial: Happy Father's Day (30 sec)
Lily lives in her favorite princess dress, but like most kids, she's not exactly tidy. Between pasta spills and kissing frogs, that princess dress gets messy! Once a week, Lily's dad lets her play sheriff and uses Tide laundry detergent and Downy fabric softener together to keep her dress stain free and super soft. This one may not make you shed man tears, but the kindness of Tide and Downy is making us do so. For every tweet on Twitter of the hashtag #DadsWay, Tide and Downy will give NFI $1. Let's see those tweets! Leave the man tears to yourself!

Oral B: Power of Dad (1:09)
Your dad has always had the power to make you smile, now Oral-B wants to help you power up his smile in return (insert shedding of man tears here). #PowerofDad

Sears: Not a Superhero (1:03)
Let's hear it for the original Superman, Dad. From the one place you can always count on to save his day. From ties to grills, tools, TVs and more, only Sears has everything the superhero in your life is looking for this Father's Day. This is Sears, #ThisIsSuper. Another hashtag could be used here: #ShedManTears.

Dick's Sporting Goods: Father's Day (1:02)
For everything Dad has done for you, make this Father's Day the best one ever. Sometimes, no emotion is needed, simple sports scenes may evoke the shedding of man tears. Like in this video:

Oreo: Bedtime (1:01)
Wonder if a girl gave an Oreo to her Dad - would he let her stay up past bedtime? See how sharing an Oreo can let wonder loose in Oreo's latest Wonderfilled commercial, featuring a new twist on a favorite song. Yes, in conducting my own experiment, the data is statistically significant showing when a daughter gives her dad an Oreo—she can in fact stay up past her bedtime. While dad sheds man tears over delicious cookies and milk. Those man tears are actually called "wonderfilled man tears."

If you made it through these commercials without shedding man tears, chances are, you're either a cyborg or not-a-father. In which case, I'm not mad at you. But you need to understand, all the above companies got Father's Day correct this year. Go dads—and Happy Father's Day!

What's your favorite Father's Day commercial?

The Father Factor Blog

Phil Mickelson Skips US Open Practice for Daughter's Graduation

If you follow professional golf, you know the U.S. Open Championship is kind of a big deal. ESPN reports that Phil Mickelson skipped US Open practice to attend his daughter's eigth grade graduation.

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ESPN says:
Mickelson was not at Merion Golf Club on Tuesday preparing for the U.S. Open because he headed home to San Diego, where he will attend his daughter's eighth-grade graduation.

Mickelson arrived at Merion on Monday but was unable to get in much practice due to the severe weather conditions that twice caused United States Golf Association officials to close the course.

Mickelson was quoted in a statement released Tuesday he always planned to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony. But with the bad weather at Merion, he left early so he could practice at home.

Mickelson said in a statement:

  • I was scheduled to return to San Diego after my 2:30pm press conference Tuesday. I came back daughter Amanda is speaking at her 8th grade graduation ceremony and I always planned on being here for that, but since it was raining so much Monday and we didn't know if we'd even be able to play a sloppy course, I came home last night to practice in great weather on my range and greens. I'll be ready to go Thursday.

The ceremony is scheduled to take place in the late afternoon Wednesday in California, and Mickelson plans to return to Merion (in Pennsylvania) sometime overnight. He has a 7:11 a.m. starting time on Thursday off the 11th tee (4:11 a.m. California time)

As CBSSports makes clear: say the graduation ends at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (8 p.m. in Pennsylvania) -- Mickelson will probably eat a cookie and drink some juice at the after-party and be out the door by 6:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. in Pennsylvania). It's a 4 1/2-hour (or so) flight.

Even with a private jet, like I'm sure Mickelson has. He will hit the tee box like any sleepy dad would! To that we say, go Philly Mick, you're doing things #DadsWay!

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photo credit: zzazazz

Mayweather Calls Guerrero "A True Warrior" After Fight

This past Saturday night, Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero entered the ring with Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr who then stood undefeated at 43-0. After the fight, Mayweather stands undefeated at 44-0.

Guerrero ShotWe at NFI followed this fight because everything we knew of Robert Guerrero pointed to him being a great example of an involved, responsible and committed husband and father. Anytime we can highlight great examples from sports and entertainment, we will. We think dads and husbands can learn by seeing real examples within others' life stories.

As someone who hasn't really followed boxing since Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!, I found Guerrero's story to be inspiring. He made me think about what "a true warrior" really looks like today. He reminded me of three things that make a true warrior—lessons I hope to live by as a husband and father. Here they are... 

1.  A True Warrier Isn't Defined By His Day Job.
No matter the stage of life, your job shouldn't define you. This is especially true if you have a job you love; it's much easier to define yourself by your job if you like it. That's a problem. Watching Guerrero's interviews over the last few weeks reminded me as he said himself, "Boxing is what I do, not who I am." Dads, are you defining yourself with your position at the company? In a day when I've heard marketing heads at brands say repeatedly, "Men don't define themselves by being fathers and husbands", Guerrero seems to live by a different, better standard. 

2. A True Warrior Keeps His Family Close.
It's undeniable from seeing Guerrero's story that he was and is a good husband and father. From sacrificing his career in order to take care of his wife to being involved with his children, Guerrero could easily distance himself from family given his talent as a boxer. He could spend a fortune on a different team that isn't family. For instance, his dad is his trainer. I'm fairly certain Guerrero can afford to have other trainers. But he understands that his father is the best for him. Guerrero picked his team with family in mind. Dads, have you picked your job or lifestyle with your family in mind? 

3. A True Warrior Hates Losing More than He Loves Winning.
I saw a postfight interview where Guerrero, tired and drained from just finishing 12 rounds with Mayweather says, and I'm paraphrasing, "I'd like to get in the ring with Mayweather again. I hear he has a contract for five more fights!" That's a fighter right there. Guerrero likes to win, but he hates to lose. Dads, do you hate to lose? "Losing" for dads could mean a number of things, but might I suggest, we lose if we aren't being 24/7 dads for our kids. In order to be involved, we must hate not being involved so much that we actually plan and do things to be involved.  

I learned these three things and more from covering Guerrero the last few weeks. There's a lot to learn from his life. Which begs the question: what if someone followed you around for weeks? Would they learn anything? Would they learn the importance of being a husband and father? Would they learn the above lessons by watching you? Said differently, would they see you as "a true warrior"?

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Robert Guerrero: Husband. Father. Fighter.

Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero fights Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr on Saturday, May 4 at 9pm ET. Mayweather is undefeated at 43-0.  

Guerrero Training ShotYou may be wondering why NFI is talking so much about this fight. The reason we're so interested in this fight is because everything we know of Robert Guerrero points to him being a great example of an involved, responsible and committed husband and father. We dads and husbands can learn a lot by watching and listening to him, so we are encouraging everyone to watch the fight if they can. Here's why...

Guerrero as Husband
Guerrero vacated his title and turned down three major championship fights to be his wife's caretaker as she battled cander. The video below tells the story of his wife getting diagnosed and having to get a bone marrow transplant. Guerrero was recently asked about this process and he replied, "Boxing is what I do, not who I am." I love that. He gets it.

Can't view the video? Click here to watch Robert Guerrero on taking care of his wife.

Guerrero as Father
Guerrero understands the importance of being a dad. I've watched several videos and interviews from Guerrero. I recently heard him say, "My goal is to be an example to the youth." He says after his matches are over, he plans to work with children to pass on the lessons his father taught (is teaching) him. You see, Guerrero's father is his trainer.

Can't view the video? Click here to see Robert Guerrero discuss his father as trainer.

Guerrero as Fighter
Guerrero recently said, "Styles makes fights. I have the style to beat Mayweather." His nickname is "The Ghost" because, as he puts it, "You can't hit what you can't see." From being a husband through trials to being an involved father and family man, we see that Guerrero is a fighter both inside the ring and outside of it. Guerrero says he has the style to beat Mayweather:

  • height
  • left handed
  • fast hands
  • good footwork
  • can fight inside and outside
  • has power in both hands

Guerrero talked about having a legacy in one interview. He remarked, "You want to fight the best fighters out there..." Come Saturday night, Guerrero gets his chance. See Guerrero and Mayweather's first encounter here...

Can't view the video? Click here to see Mayweather/Guerrero first encounter.

You don't need to care about boxing to learn lessons from Guerrero's life. He has been tested and found capable. Being a man means being a fighter. A man must fight to cherish his wife. He must fight to balance work and be attentive to his children's needs. Are you a fighter for your family? It seems to me, the world may need more Robert Guerrero's. Get more details on Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero. Tune in for the fight: Saturday, May 4 at 9pm ET.

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You Can Win $200+ Prize Pack for "Mayweather VS Guerrero"!

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is excited to partner and promote the upcoming boxing match, Mayweather vs Guerreroon Saturday May 4 at 9pm ET.

Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero takes on Floyd “Money” Mayweather JR for the WBC Welterweight Championship Saturday, May 4 9pm ET/ 6pm PT.

You can watch the fight for free from your sofa! Order pizza and invite some friends over for a watch party. You'll have no traffic, no parking, no lines, no crowds, fight is broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Showtime PPV directly to your tv! 

What You Can Win:

  • 5 T-shirts
  • 5 Posters
  • $200 Visa Gift Card (Winner can order the Pay-Per-View fight and buy food/drink for Watch Party)

Here's How You Win:

  1. LIKE National Fatherhood Initiative on Facebook.
  2. Follow @TheFatherFactor on Twitter.
  3. Tweet this message on Twitter: I'm watching the #MayDay fight Saturday 5/4 at 9pmET with @TheFatherFactor. Who's with me? #DadsClub
  4. Do all three (3) things by tomorrow (Thursday May 2nd) at 10am ET for your chance to win the prize pack. One winner to be chosen. We have to pick quick—so we have time to mail prize pack to the winner's house before the fight!

Visit our MayDay page for more details on the fight!

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The Possibility of Freedom

At NFI, we like to say dads should be "involved, responsible and committed." In the new movie Home Run, we see what happens when someone isn't "involved, responisble or committed."

If you can't see the video above, visit our Home Run page for details.

Consider some of your favorite sports films. Chances are good there's a baseball film on your list. Let's see, for me there's Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game and Field of Dreams to name a few. Aside from the fact that all these films star the great Kevin Costner, these movies share two elements:

  1. There's something bigger than yourself for which to live.
  2. It takes sacrifice to understand your purpose in life.

In Home Run, we see an example of someone who isn't involved, responsible or committed to anything but himself. While Home Run doesn't have Kevin Costner, I decided to break from watching The Bodyguard and review this film. As I watched, I was reminded of several life lessons. Here are two lessons that stuck out with me:

  1. Change Takes Work...
    Cory Brand, the big league baseball star in this film, makes his share of mistakes. In one game, he skips the third base when running bases and this sets everything in motion for a big crash in Cory's life. The interesting thing is, as Cory struggles to recover from his mistakes, he is given the job of overseeing the third base duties of a local little league team. Cory learns that to right his wrongs, he'll need to be ready to work. 
  2. ...But You Can Change.
    As long as we are living, there's time to change, to make things right. As long as you have time, change is possible. Cory goes from playing in the big leagues to overseeing a little league team. In this film, we see a real picture of struggle against past and years of mistakes. 

This film is full of important messages. Sometimes, like in real life, the mistakes in this film aren't easy to watch. But if you watch closely, you'll leave the theater reminded that there are things bigger than yourself for which to live, that purpose takes sacrifice, that change isn't easy, but change is possible. 

In your opinion, what's the greatest sports movie ever made?

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The Masters, Tiger Woods and Fatherhood

tiger woods masters golf

It doesn't get much better than this; The Masters Tournament starts today and it's Throwback Thursday! Can you believe it?! Today we go back to 1997. It was Tiger Wood's first major tournament. Tiger had won three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles and a NIKE endorsement. But winning The Masters was his stamp on a new generation of golfer.

If you recall, Tiger not only won The Masters, he dominated it. He set several tournament records including the scoring record for shooting an 18-under-par 270. In case you weren't counting, that was 12 shots lower than second place finisher. 

In the embedded video, you hear the great CBS announcer Jim Nantz say as Tiger's putt lands in the cup, "There it is...a win for the ages!" Tiger didn't misstep—he walked directly to his father.

Tiger would say later in an interview that they didn't think his dad would attend the tournament due to health issues. What a great moment in sports history! Our video ends by saying, "A father can change the world. One child at a time."

Tiger's father influenced Tiger's golf game. Tiger's dad studied the game of golf and taught it to his son. With the involvement of his father, Tiger has changed the game of golf. 

Remember dads, as our video says, "It takes a man to be a dad." As you watch The Masters Tournament today and through this weekend, know that you can change the world by being an involved father. 


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photo credit: rich_w

The Championship Legacy You Pass to Your Kids

The NCAA Championship game is finally here! You know your team isn't playing...but you can still salvage something good from all the college basketball over the last month! If you've followed us on social media or here at the blog at all, you know we've been working hard to provide you with real-life tips throughout the madness.

MarchDadness FB resized 600

Throughout March Dadness, we've given you the following tips:

Sweet 16) 16 Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear

Elite 8) 8 Amazingly Easy Activities You Can Do With Your Child

Final 4) The 4 Magical Steps to Making Your Child a Winner in Life

We hope you have not only enjoyed the games, but have enjoyed getting tips and tools for your role as "Coach" in your family. 

Today, we have one more idea to leave you with as you gear up for the Championship game.

Our mission at NFI is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children who grow up with involvedresponsible, and committed fathers. Involved, Responsible, and Committed are qualities that we think are essential for fathers, and they make up the foundations of the legacy you pass on to your children and generations to come. Leave a legacy of a champion by living out these qualities every day.

The Championship Legacy You Leave Your Kids

  • Involved: Be involved in your child's life - change diapers, read bedtime stories, discipline with gentleness, go to sporting events and extracurricular activities, talk to your teens about important topics. Here's a thought: get to know their friends. Or how about the parents of your child? Do you know them. Have you ever talked to them? Two of our favorite sayings at NFI are "The smallest moments make the biggest impact in the life of a child" and "Kids spell love T-I-M-E." Your mission as father is to be involved in the big and small moments of your child's life.
  • Responsible: We like to say that responsible dads do three things for their children: provide, nurture, and guide. Provide for your children's needs (this is more than putting food on the table; make sure they are safe, healthy, and loved). Nurture your children by calling out their best qualities, encouraging them to reach their potential, and demonstrating your love by words and actions. Guide your child by teaching them values, coaching them when they make mistakes, and helping them find their own direction in life.
  • Committed: Be committed to lifelong fathering. Your job as a dad doesn't start when you get home from work and it doesn't end when your kids graduate from high school. You are a dad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of your child's life. When you're 80 and your child is 50, you will still be a dad. Also, be committed to the institution of fatherhood. In a time when 24 million children in America are growing up without their fathers, good dads like you need to be shining examples of fatherhood by mentoring other dads and children who don't have fathers.

As you strive be an involved, responsible, and committed father every day, you will create a Championship Legacy that will have generational impact in the lives of your children and their families.

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4 Ways a Dad Can Make His Child "R-I-C-H"

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The Final Four is upon us! As you're gearing up for this weekend, review these four values and see which you can work on with your child. Below are four values we think your child should learn from you. Bring it home to the championship, coach!

Roland Warren, NFI's former president and now board member, is fond of saying:

  • If you give your children money and no values, you give them everything they need to fail; if you give them values and no money, you give them everything they need to succeed.

While there are a lot of values that are important for you to pass to your child, we came up with a helpful acronym to help you remember the four values. 

To stick with Roland's quote, help your kids become R-I-C-H in life by modeling and teaching these values.

Take ownership for your actions. This isn't easy. Believe me, I'm the guy who likes to say "freaking" a lot. But I'm also the guy who would rather my six-year-old daughter not go to school and say "freaking." Therefore, on the occasion that I insert "freaking" into a sentence, I need to show responsibility and say, "You know, daddy shouldn't have used that word. Daddy makes mistakes too sometimes..." Does it sound like I've done this before? Yeah. I have. And you know that kids are the best at pulling out EVERY word they hear! The point is, when you make a mistake—and you will—apologize and fix it. Just as your child hears—and probably repeats everything she hears—she can also spot a phoney. If you don't model responsibility, who will?

This goes well with the first point. But, it's important to stress, always do what is right and tell the truth, even if it costs you personally. When you child sees this modeled in you, he will learn more from the example than the speech! Know what your values are and stand by them. Be reliable and trustworthy. How does this work in a father-child relationship? For starters, don't say, "I'll be home in time to take you to the park." Then you either a) don't show up in time to go to the park or b) you show up but let something fall through so you don't end up going to the park. Your word is your word. It means something—and it should. You start with a clean slate with your child. Be trustworthy and you will be great in your child's eyes. Making promises you don't keep is a sure-fire way to have you child not trust you—and even worse—have your child not feel loved.

As your child's leader, be sure you are treating others with respect, even if you disagree with them or don't really like them. Reminder: your child is listening and watching you! Listen and seek to understand others. Be willing to sacrifice to help someone else. As you are helping, explain to your child the "why" behind the help. As your child ages, you can discuss with him or her why you care so deeply about helping take food to the neighbor, volunteer at church or donate money to certain causes. Look for opportunities to explain to your child the motivation behind your sacrifice.

Give credit to others when it's due. Show appreciation for praise and compliments. You can model humility to your child by teaching them to point out other people's good that they see. Humility is another value that must be taught by word, but also by action. 

Dad, talk about what these values look like in real life to help your children understand why these traits are important. Praise your child when they show these qualities or when you see them displayed in their siblings or friends. When your child makes a mistake, talk with them about how their actions violated these character traits and what they can do differently next time. Most importantly, model these character qualities consistently. Your children will learn more from what you do than from what you say. With these character traits, your children will be truly R-I-C-H in life.

What do you find works for teaching these four values to your child? Experienced dads, please share your wisdom in the comments. 

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8 Amazingly Easy Activities You Can Do With Your Child

MarchDadnessTwitter 520x260 resized 600While you're tracking your March Madness bracket this week, be sure you have the details of March Dadness. We started our bracket with the Sweet 16: Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear and are now moving on to the next round with the "Elite 8". Today we have eight activities every child needs to experience with his or her dad.

At NFI, we say "the smallest moments make the biggest impact in a child's life." While not all "the smallest moments" HAVE to include an activity; in most cases, shared experiences can create times for lasting memories.

Here are eight activities you can use to create memories with your child this week. 

  1. Teach Your Child a Sport: Take an afternoon to teach your son or daughter how to dribble a basketball. If your child can already do a crossover, consider teaching the rules of the game or studying the dimensions of the court. Go on, you don't have to be a pro player, practice that jumper with your child. Remember, the important thing is you're spending time together. Not at all a fan of basketball? Well, you're probably not the greatest dad you can be. However, replace basketball with the sport you like. Play catch with a baseball or better yet, what better reason to get on the golf course than to teach your child about the game?!
  2. Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike: From first learning to ride or taking the training wheels off, riding a bike is a big deal for kids. I'm thinking now of my three-year-old riding her tricycle all over our house. She gets the biggest kick out of it—especially if she knows I'm watching and interested. Her whole demeanor changes as she pedals. Her eyes light up and her chin raises as she glides through our living room and stops crashing into the kitchen. This may sound like a simple thing—and it is—but be sure not to miss it.
  3. Go Camping with Your Child: Camping is a great way to connect with your family. Whether it means tent and fire under the stars or on the living room floor with covers and pillows every afternoon like at our house. Use the time to disconnect from work at the office (or around the house) and connect with your child.
  4. Take Your Child on a Date: Set aside a couple of hours to spend just you and your child. This can be as planned or as cheap as you make it. Go to the playground, stop for lunch or simply take a walk and talk in your neighorhood. By doing this, you connect with your child on a deeper, more meaningful level. If you have more than one child; simply schedule various times for each child. This may not be a weekly occurance for your family. However, it's an invaluable tool that can show how much you cherish your children. Trust me, with two daughters, I speak from experience, this isn't easy to make time for. I don't do this as often as a should, but when I do it, it's some of the most valuable time I spend with my girls.
  5. Volunteer with Your Child: Whether you're serving at your church or helping at a local homeless shelter, there's great opportunities for you and your child to give your time to a good cause together. Your child will enjoy spending time with you and you'll be setting a good example for a lifelong habit of service.
  6. Read with Your Child: Your child is never too young (or too old) to read with you.  From reading Llama Llama Red Pajama for the hundreth time or The Hobbit with your teen, great books (and the conversion that happens during this time) will last you a lifetime. Make it a regular habit to read aloud with your child.
  7. Take Your Child to the Bank: Remember real banks? Yeah, I barely can either. While this activity may seem odd. We mention it here because it's a great oppotunity to create a memory with your child. How often do you open a bank account in life? I'm guessing—not very often. Depending on the age of your child, this could be a great time of connecting. The experience of opening an account can be awesome. But also, the whole process of teaching your child about money and responsibility is really where we're going with this idea—an ongoing opportunity of connection! It's a connection point that you and your child will not forget. I remember my mother taking me into our local bank branch when I was young. I haven't forgotten the formal building, the leather chairs, the large desks and me signing my life away for my first acount! The excitement was intense—to see money in my account was unforgettable. Well, perhaps I haven't forgetten about having money in my account because that was the last time I would have money in my account! But I digress...on to the last activity ideas...
  8. One Last Activity Idea: (for sons) Teach your son to tie a tie and/or shave: Boys need their dads to coach them through these "rites of passage" in manhood. Heck, every time I shave, my daughters "shave" with me. Although time consuming, I often remind myself that there will come a time when my girls no longer care about their dad shaving! 
    (for daughters): Go dancing. Whether it's a silly dance in the living room or a daddy-daughter dance held locally, girls need their dad to show them how a guy treats a girl.
Question: What would you add to this list?

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16 Phrases Your Child Needs to Hear From You

march sadnessMarch Madness officially starts today. While you're flipping channels at home or online to see how your bracket's doing, be sure your using #MarchDadness for all your social media posts. Today, we start our official tournament of tips and tools for fathering. We begin our bracket with the Sweet 16!

The words a coach says from the bench, in time-outs, and pre-game huddles all have a big impact on how players perform on the court. Have you watch a game where the players can't do anything right in the first half; only to come out in the second half and play like champions? Odds are good that the coach gave a great half-time speech and somehow communicated well what his team was doing well and not so well.

In the same way, what you say to your children each day has influence on your child—for good or for ill. Your child should receive continual encouragement and affirmation. Don't assume that hearing praise from teachers, Mom or other people is enough—your child needs to hear from YOU. You can live out and model love all you want, but saying the words below are crucial to helping your child develop confidence and character. It's up to you, dad. 

Be intentional about saying these affirming phrases frequently to your kids. I would challenge you to stop, get your child's attention, look them in the eye and tell them convincingly the following phrases. These aren't in order of importance.

  1. I'm so proud to be your dad!
  2. Good job!
  3. You are beautiful/handsome.
  4. You are so sweet/smart/brave/creative.
  5. It's wonderful how you demonstrate kindness/thoughtfulness/compassion.
  6. Thank you for helping.
  7. You are very good at _______.
  8. I believe in you.
  9. You can do it!
  10. No matter what happens, you can always come to me.
  11. I will always be there for you, no matter what.
  12. You are unique and special.
  13. I'm glad you are my son/daughter.
  14. I appreciate you so much.
  15. The day you were born was one of the best days of my life.
  16. I LOVE YOU!
Question: What's missing from our list?

(Video) Cheerleading Dad #ThrowbackThursday

Happy Throwback Thursday! Today's reminder: Take time to be a dad! Enjoy!

Question: How will you "take time to be a dad" today?

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Let #MarchDadness Begin!

march sadnessKing, Jackson, Howard, Rose, Webber…these names conjure up lessons and memories for the sports fan—lessons in greatness and defeat. The names collectlively were "The Fab Five," which was the nickname for the 1991 University of Michigan men's basketball team. They were and still are considered by most to be "the greatest class ever recruited." The team reached two championship games in the early nineties while freshmen and sophomores, which was unheard of before they did it.  

Perhaps bigger than the team playing in championships, they brought the intimidation factor to college sports in a way not previously seen. They were known as a team who changed the style of basketball. They wore their shorts longer than everyone else and wore black shoes with black socks.  

I must confess as a 12- or 13-year-old playing public school basketball, our all-caucasian team in the mountains of Tennessee intentionally stole the Fab Five's style. Yes, our game suits may have been purple and white and said “Eagles” instead the blue and gold of the “Wolverines”; but you couldn’t tell us we weren’t cool enough to wear our shorts below our knees, with black Nike shoes and black socks purchased by our moms.

This is the magic of March Madness: whether you're a sports fanatic, proudly wearing your team colors and never missing a game, or prefer to spend your time doing other things, there's memories wrapped up in these college basketball games. If you don’t enjoy the games, perhaps your child will. The games can be a great time to connect with your kids and family. 

As a dad, you're the coach of your own team and your "players" are looking to you for the strategies and techniques that will help them win in the game. This month, as TVs, computers and mobile devices across the nation tune to the NCAA college basketball tournament, we're getting in on "March Madness" too by bringing you March Dadness!  

Tips for Coach Dad
As you're filling out your bracket and gearing up for the tournament, use our bracket of tips and strategies to build your game plan for fathering.

During the month of March, our Dad Email will follow the March Madness tournament schedule:

  • Sweet Sixteen: 16 Words Your Kid Should Hear from You
  • Elite Eight: 8 Activities Your Kid Should Experience with You
  • Final Four: 4 Character Traits Your Kid Should Get from You
  • The Championship: The Legacy You Pass to Your Kid  

Tools for Coach Dad
Dad Email and The Father Factor Blog: Stay tuned to The Father Factor Blog for stories related to the college basketball season, from stories and memories to tips, tools and advice related to our kids and family.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine: We'll be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine with our opinions and pics about March Madness. Whether you’re watching the game alone with a bucket of wings or with your child teaching her how to shoot free-throws, be sure to connect with us using #MarchDadness as the hashtag.

The Community
Speaking of bracketology, you can join National Fatherhood Initiative’s Fantasy League by signing up today (Group Password: Fatherhood).  

Visit our Fatherhood March Dadness Page for more information.

Let the 'Dadness' begin!  

Question: Which team do you think will win it all this year?  

Experience March Dadness to the Fullest — Sign up for the Dad Email Today!

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