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New Father-Son Adventure: "After Earth" Opens May 31

"Danger is real. Fear is a choice." —Cyper Raige (Will Smith), father in After Earth

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) is proud to support the upcoming father-son adventure, After Earth, opening May 31. 

A crash landing leaves teenager Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and his legendary father Cypher (Will Smith) stranded on Earth, 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With Cypher critically injured, Kitai must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

Home Run Twitter Chat with Prizes! Tonight 8pm EST #HomeRunMovie

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.  

For Father's of Older Children--No Time for an "Achy Breaky" Heart

For the last week or so, folks have been “buzzing” about this video of Miley Cyrus taking a “hit” of salvia from a bong. No doubt, images like this are disturbing to many, especially the millions of parents whose children have regularly supported Miley and her squeaky clean alter-ego, Hannah Montana. Ironically, Miley’s Disney show is called “Hannah Montana Forever," but it certainly appears as if, now that Miley is an 18 year-old “adult,” she is intent of getting out of Montana as fast a possible.

Of note, there is one special parent that is quite disappointed with Miley's recent behavior, her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. Check out what he tweeted after he first saw the video:

“ Sorry guys. I had no idea. Just saw this stuff for the first time. I’m so sad. There is much beyond my control right now.”

Now, as a father of adult children, my heart really goes out to Billy Ray. But, I want to encourage him—and all dads of older children—to stay engaged. Indeed, this is no time for him to get paralyzed by an “achy breaky” heart and two-step out of Miley’s life. She needs him now more than ever and he must not succumb to the catcalls from the peanut galley of pop culture that wrongly counsel dads to “lean out” of an adult child’s life at the very moment that they must “lean in.”

Let’s face it. The very same folks that are encouraging Miley to draw deep from the bong and tell them what she is feeling will have little use for her when she can no longer get them into the “A-list” parties. These kinds of “friends” are much like parasites. They have no use for the dead. Indeed, as Billy Ray knows well. Fame is fleeting. Paternity is not…

That said; let me give a few more reasons why Billy Ray needs to do whatever he can to help his daughter before it’s too late. First, there are the sad sagas of Britney Spears (Enough said) and Lindsay Lohan (More than enough said).

Second, there is Noah Cyrus, Billy Ray’s 10 years-old daughter, who idolizes her big sister and clearly hopes to follow in Miley’s star-studded footsteps. A few weeks ago, I came across this video on YouTube where Noah is begging Miley to perform her version of singer Akon’s hit “Smack That.” Just in case you can't fully understand what Noah is saying, here are the lyrics:

“Smack that, all on the floor. Smack that, give me some more. Smack that, ’til you get sore. Smack that, oh ooh.”

(By the way, if you are confused about what “that” is, you can click here to see Akon’s video. It clears things up nicely.)

True, there are "things" that are beyond Billy Ray’s, and every father’s, control and influence. But, his children are not one of them. Enough said.

What’s in a name? Everything.

This past weekend, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s oldest son, Mark, took his life in a dramatic fashion. He hung himself with a dog’s leash from a ceiling pipe in his living room, while his toddler son slept in a nearby bedroom. No doubt, Mark Madoff had been deeply troubled for some time since he turned his father over to law enforcement almost two years ago from the day of his death. Indeed, his dreadful end was yet another poignant example of how the sins of a father can impact his children and his grandchildren as well.

Ironically, a few weeks ago, I was reading a Wall Street Journal article about the problems that Mark encountered trying to find work in the financial services industry. Despite decades of experience and his considerable connections, no Wall Street firm would touch him. There is a proverb in the Bible that says, “A good name is more desirable than riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold.” Unfortunately, Mark was a “Madoff” and, in the minds of many, his name was now worthless, useful only as an expletive or the punchline of a late night comedian’s joke.

I think that there is an important lesson from the Madoff’s family tragedy that all dads should heed and consider daily, especially when they are tempted to behave immorally. The very first and most valuable gift that any father will ever give to a child is his name. But, his name only has worth to his child if it reflects of a life that is lived with integrity and good character. Remember, good character is more easily kept than restored. So too is a good name…

Lessons Learned: Giving to Receive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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