Friday, January 29, 2010

Reflections on a great dad-daughter relationship

Our coworker KM graciously agreed to write a few thoughts on the legacy of her father's wonderful are her thoughts:

"If you look up daddy’s little girl in the dictionary, a picture of me and my dad should appear beside it. My dad didn’t grow up with any sisters, and with two boys before I came along, I’m sure it would have been easy to leave things up to my mom. But my dad has shown me from a very young age that I am important to him and that I am beautiful.

Other than my husband, I’ve been out on more dates with my dad than anyone else. Because of him there has never been a Valentines day where I was without a valentine. He coupled these sweet things with teaching me practical things – like working on cars, and fixing things around the house. He showed me many of the qualities I needed to look for in the man I would marry, while teaching me to be a strong, independent woman on my own."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A+ Health Reports!

In my continuing "new dad" series, I thought I would touch on one of the "firsts" that new parents experience - the first visit to the pediatrician.

I am happy to report that Vinny is getting perfect health reports. We are going to an amazing pediatrician that we knew through church, and he and his staff have used the word "perfect" several times to describe our little boy. I never want to take his health for granted, so I will take this opportunity to say how grateful we are that our little guy is healthy. It has been one less thing we have had to worry about in our new, very busy lives.

A sign of Vinny's good health - he gained over a pound in 9 days! He is now 8 ounces above his birth weight and he is only 12 days old. The goal was to get to birth weight after 14 days. Little Vinny is quickly becoming Big Vinny. Although I got on the scale today at the doc's office and noticed that I am about 15 pounds heavier than I was about a year ago .... uh oh. I guess I am Bigger Vinny :)

Now that Little Vinny is starting to become more alert between feedings - rather than just sleeping all the time - my next post will be about how we are interacting with him and the activity that I have found, as a new dad, to be especially fun for me and, I think, the little guy.

Dads & Daughters: Part I

We really appreciated this article which laid out four simple categories of things that dads can do, at Valentine's Day or any day, to make sure their daughters know they are loved. The categories are: Comfort, Guidance, Encouragement, Vision and Protection - check out the whole article for ideas!

Also in the category of wonderful dad-daughter stuff is the fact that our coworker KM has agreed to write a mini guest blog post for us on the example of her own father. He is a wonderful example of these great dad-daughter traits. Be sure to check back tomorrow when we'll be featuring her thoughts!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The 10 Worst Fathers?

So Men Health's recently published a list of what they consider the top ten worst fathers. The line of reasoning was, "Well, even if you aren't perfect - at least you aren't this bad." The list includes everyone from Michael Lohan to David Hasselhoff to Eliot Spitzer to Woody Allen. It also includes some less well-known folks who beat up their kids' Little League coaches or produce 78 kids (to date).

This is interesting on multiple levels. First, it's good to know there is still some sort of standard for what it means to be a good father. Granted, after this list, the bar isn't too high but if you did the opposite of everything on this list (ie: care about your kids more than yourself and don't physically or emotionally harm them), you're headed in the right direction.

Secondly, I think Men's Health might have forgotten another entry on the list: the intentionally absent father. Obviously there are situations where a father cannot, for various reasons, play an active role in his children's lives. But in the majority of cases, as difficult as the father's presence might be, a father's absence certainly doesn't make for a painless childhood either. It's simply a different category of pain.

Perhaps we and Men's Health can agree on one point - fathers do need encouragement. Not perhaps from the legacy of outrageously ridiculously bad fathers, but from working on their fathering skills and knowing that their presence is an irreplaceable wonderful benefit to their children!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Know an Award-Winning Dad?

We've just opened up nominations for our 2010 Military Fatherhood Award, presented by Lockheed Martin. You can nominate a dedicated military dad you know for this prestigious award!

The awardee will be honored at a special ceremony in Washington, DC on June 8, 2010. And, last year's awardee, U.S. Navy Chief Quartermaster John Lehnen, even got to meet President Obama at a special White House event!*

For more information, or to nominate a dad, visit!

Good luck!

*While we would love for the 2010 awardee to meet President Obama, we can't make any guarantees. But, we can guarantee that your dad will be honored and receiving the award will be a special experience he'll never forget!

Monday, January 18, 2010

He's Here!

Vincent Andres DiCaro was born at 4:41 a.m. on Friday, January 15, 2010. He weighed in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces and 19.5 inches long. He is amazing, wonderful, beautiful!

My wife was in labor for 25 hours and was unable to receive an epidural. She was so incredible, and fought bravely through the pain to bring our Little Guy into the "outer world."

There is so much I can write, so instead of trying to say everything about everything, I will summarize the "highlights":

  • Vincent is named after me. His middle name, Andres, is his grandfather's middle name (my wife's father) and his uncle's first name (my wife's brother).
  • No words can do justice in describing the moment when he first came out. It was easily one of the most awesome moments of my life, perhaps only behind the moment I saw my wife begin to walk down the aisle on our wedding day.
  • We have learned so much during these first 4 days of his life. As much as there is to know, we just have to remind ourselves that babies are built to survive. If we fretted over every bit of knowledge, we would drive ourselves crazy.
  • Vincent had his first full appointment with the pediatrician today. The doc and the two docs who visited him in the hospital have all said the same thing - he is perfect. What can I say - my wife and I have good genes (Italian and Bolivian - what a combo!).
  • Mom is recovering well. Still some pain and discomfort and some challenges around breastfeeding (I will post more about that later this week). But overall, she is doing great.
  • Both sets of grandparents have been extremely helpful, and they are happy and proud to say the least. I think we have made our parents very happy - or at least Vinny has :)
  • It has been so much easier than I expected to introduce my dog to the baby. He is an Irish Setter, which are notoriously loving and friendly dogs, but he has behaved so well. He is curious about the baby, sniffing in his general direction, but he is not getting excited or forcing the issue. Usually he just lies down near the three of us and relaxes. Good dog!
That is all for now. I will continue to post updates as our first two weeks unfold! So without further ado, here's Vinny!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Becoming a Dad!

Here in my 8th year at National Fatherhood Initiative, I am on the verge of becoming a dad for the first time. My wife, Claudia, and I are expecting our first baby any day now. Perhaps any hour now! Just this morning, my wife was having contractions. They do not appear to be the "real thing," but a definite pre-cursor to the big moment.

I will do my best to chronicle my experiences of becoming a dad here on The Father Factor.

In this post, I wanted to point out something that I had heard about in the abstract for many years, but now know to be true -- it is difficult for expectant fathers to feel connected to their coming baby. In the least, it is much more difficult for fathers than it is for mothers.

Even now, when we are probably hours or a few days away from having the baby, it still feels very abstract to me. I have read books, designed and decorated the nursery, gone through exercises and videos, seen the baby on several ultrasounds, but I know that this is not really going to hit me until the moment the baby comes out and is handed to me and my wife.

That, from what I have heard from other dads, is when the light switch flips on and you really know you are a dad.

In the meantime, I think my favorite activity during the pregnancy (aside from seeing the ultrasounds) was decorating the nursery. I hung a chair rail and, with my dad's help, put up a mural of a Beatrix Potter-inspired scene. Here is a picture:

Stay tuned - it is likely my next post will be from the hospital right after the birth!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Talking to Your Kids about Disasters

As the recent news of the earthquake continues to come in, the Haiti situation looks grim. When serious events such as this happen, kids (especially younger ones) naturally turn to their parents for explanations and reassurance. Here a few pointers on helping guide your kids through the emotions resulting from serious natural disasters:

  • Ask them if they've heard about these events. If they are in school, they might have also discussed it there. Ask them what they think about the event, and if they have any concerns related to it.
  • Assure them that you care for them and are doing everything you can to keep them safe. Answer any questions they have for you; it is important that children have a sense of hope and perspective on natural disasters.
  • Work with your kids to develop positive and constructive action steps to respond to the disaster. Children like to do things that make a difference in the world. Be creative. Encourage your children to write letters or donate "piggy bank" money to relief efforts. Pray with your children for the people who were affected. Help them focus on helping others in their time of need.
Do you have additional thoughts? How do you help your kids with difficult situations in the news?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Urban Meyer Learns a Lesson in Work-Family Balance

Anyone who is even a little bit interested in college football has heard of Urban Meyer's unexpected early retirement.

Oh wait, I'm sorry. He's not retiring, just taking an "indefinite leave of absence"...? Apparently Brett Favre Fever is spreading to college football.

At any rate, Meyer stepped down after a health scare, when he awoke with severe chest pains and lost consciousness for a stretch of time. His greuling schedule and relentless efforts were taking their toll.

As Florida fans and tv pundits scrambled to understand the decision, Meyer's 18 year-old daughter immediately celebrated her father's choice. The NY Times quotes her as saying, "I get my daddy back." Wow.

Whether or not Meyer coaches again, he's had to learn a lesson the hard way. Work-family balance is an elusive ideal, hard for any parent to achieve. Let's take a lesson from this football great and aim for excellence on and off the field this year - at work and with family.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Like Father, Like Son?

Caution: What you are about to read can only be fully appreciated if you are a Jets fan.

Last night, the New York Jets football team crushed the Cincinnati Bengals to earn a playoff berth, their first since the 2006 season.

Aside from my sheer excitement – due to the fact that I am a long-suffering, but very devoted Jets fan – there is an actual “fatherhood” reason behind why I am writing about this.

If you know anything about the Jets, it is that they often find the cruelest ways to let their fans down. Just when they are on the verge of victory or greatness, they find an infuriating and depressing way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

This has been the case ever since Joe Namath – The Legend – led the Jets to their only Super Bowl win in January of 1969.

You are still wondering what the fatherhood connection is…

Well, one of the Jets coaches in that miraculous 1968 season that ended in their Super Bowl III victory was Buddy Ryan. The Jets head coach this season is his son, Rex Ryan.

Rex has said repeatedly this year that these are not the “same old Jets” who will let their fans down. Like his father, Rex is a no nonsense guy who says what is on his mind. His bravado is evident in the way his teams play – a tough, blitzing defense and a hard-hitting running game. His father was the same way – a defense-first coach whose “honesty” with his players, the refs, and the media often got him in trouble. Rex, in his first year as a head coach, is already showing signs that he will be the same way. In fact, three weeks ago he told the press that the Jets would not make the playoffs. Good thing he was wrong…

But for us Jets fans, let’s hope the similarities between father and son don’t stop with their “throw caution to the wind” personalities. A second Jets Super Bowl Championship would be the nicest “similarity” of all.