Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Time for 24/7 Dad...Second Edition

Here at NFI we're thrilled to release the second edition of our core fatherhood program - 24/7 Dad. Used by over 500 organizations across the country - Head Starts, schools, workforce development programs, etc - 24/7 Dad gives men the fathering skills they need to be the dad their kids need them to be.

In the new edition, we've added more tools and notes to help facilitators easily run the program. Plus, there is new, relevant information - on topics co-parenting and communication skills - presented in an even more visually engaging format.

To find out more, visit The program will be available to pre-order in August.

24/7 Dad is an important part of our efforts to equip men to be the best dads they can be. William, a 24/7 Dad graduate, says it best:

I’ve learned more from these classes than I learned in 33 years of living about being a man, owning up to responsibilities, and just being a dad. Being a dad is a wonderful thing when you really know what being a dad is all about. The 24/7 Dad™ program can teach you what being a dad is really all about.
William, Father of 3
24/7 Dad™ A.M. Graduate

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Toy Story Dad…What's His Story?

This past weekend, my family and I went to see "Toy Story 3." Wow. What a great movie! The dialogue was clever and humorous. The characters and the plot were compelling and entertaining, and the movie has a wonderfully engaging blend of drama and comedy. My sense is that the Toy Story series has run its course. If so, the creators of the series ended on a very high note.

However, there was one aspect of the movie that left me a bit "animated." The plot builds around the fact that Andy, who is now 17, has lost interest in playing with Woody, Buzz and the gang. Accordingly, the urgent crisis for the toys is what would become of them now that Andy would soon be heading off to college.

At one point, there is a scan of Andy's desk and you see a picture from his recent high school graduation. There are three smiling faces: Andy, his sister and his mom. So, for me, the stuffed elephant in the living room was...Where is Andy's dad and what's his story?

Now, I know that this is just a movie, but, unfortunately, art can imitate life. With 24 million kids living in father-absent homes, Andy's family situation is too real and too common for too many children. Nonetheless, this was not an accident or an oversight. Somewhere during the creative process someone made the call to erase dad. Moreover, he was deleted and no reference was made to him. And, well, I am just not comfortable with this new normal.

Interestingly, there was a scene in the movie where I got a sense that Andy was not too comfortable with this either. Near the end of the film, Andy is holding Woody for what will probably be the last time and he says that Woody is his most special toy and that he has been with him for as long as he can remember. He added that Woody was always there for him and, best of all, Woody would never give up on him, no matter what.

Now, you can dismiss this like so much "psycho babble," but it seems to me that Andy, through his imagination and play, ascribed to Woody the attributes of an involved, responsible, and committed father. And, if you followed the Toy Story series, this is exactly how Woody behaved. He was always focused on being there for Andy regardless of the challenges and obstacles. Interestingly, the magic that made Woody a "real" toy was his commitment to Andy, just like what makes a man a real father is his commitment to his children.

In fact, if anyone ever questioned his priorities and purpose, Woody was quick to show them the word "ANDY" written on the sole of his shoe in permanent marker. What an amazing metaphor for what happens to a man when he becomes a dad. I have heard numerous times from fathers how something changed inside of them when they held their child for the first time. Well, I think that children are born with "magic" markers and when their dads hold them for the first time, they write their names on their dad’s souls to remind their fathers who they belong to.

I guess that's why I am a bit troubled by no reference or mention of Andy's dad. Because for all of the real “Andys” in the world, their history is linked to their destiny as men and as fathers. Accordingly, they have to come to grip with and make sense of their father's absence in a real way. And there is no erasing that.

See how National Fatherhood Initiative works with entertainment media projects to promote their fatherhood messages:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rodney Peete's Fatherhood Award

NFI recently gave a Fatherhood Award to former NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete. Peete's new book, Not My Boy!, is an honest, heart-wrenching look at the struggles that Peete faced when he learned his son has autism.

Peete, like any dad, had dreams that his son would follow in his footsteps, which in this case meant becoming a star athlete. When that dream was shattered, Peete had to create new dreams for his son. However, through his struggle, he learned that the support system for parents of children with special needs is build mainly by and for moms. He felt he was going through this battle alone.

But Peete worked with his wife, Holly Robinson Peete, to learn how to deal with their son's situation as a family.

Peete's Fatherhood Award was announced on The Mo'Nique Show the day after Father's Day. Watch the video to see how Peete talks about his struggles and what NFI's award meant to him:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Father Factor and The Barefoot Bandit

Research tells us that children without involved fathers are more likely to commit crimes and engage in risky behaviors. The recent apprehension of the "Barefoot Bandit" gives us a clear example of this statistic.

At the age of 19, Coulton Harris-Moore (known as the "Barefoot Bandit" for executing crimes sans footwear) is suspected of committing at least 100 burglaries. He was caught and brought into custody this weekend when he crash-landed a stolen plane in the Bahamas.

As news sources learn more and more about his troubled childhood, one thing becomes clear - this story definitely has a father factor. Gordon Moore, Harris-Moore's father, used drugs, was imprisoned, and even tried to choke his child before walking out on him at the age of two.

Clearly, there are other factors and variables at work here, but one thing is clear: even though he walked out when his son was only two years old, Gordon Moore had a profound effect on his child's life.

For more information about the father factor in crime, incarceration and risky behavior, check out

Monday, July 12, 2010

But What If I Don't Want To Be A Dad?

NFI President's Roland Warren has recently responded to an article by Cord Jefferson entitled, "But What If I Don't Want To Be A Dad?," addressing the argument of "financial abortion."

Roland writes: Actions have consequences, and although a person can choose his actions, he cannot choose the consequences of his actions. When it comes to sex, one of the consequences can be a child. So if a guy wants to keep his wallet closed, I suggest that he keep his zipper closed, too.

Check out Roland's full response here at

Friday, July 9, 2010

Despicable Me: From Super Bad to Super Dad

It is no secret that movies, TV shows and media today often take a swing at fatherhood. Our President, Roland Warren, posted about this issue around Father’s Day when he struggled to find a Father’s Day card that did something other than portray Dad as ignorant or detached. The release of "Despicable Me" however, brings attention to a both humorous and heartwarming side of fatherhood: transformation.

The ultimate super villain, Gru (voice by Steve Carrell), adopts three orphans and, throughout the movie, transforms from super villain to super dad. Though his intentions for adopting the three girls is undoubtedly despicable, the consequences are both emotional and edifying as Gru slowly transforms from “Super Bad to Super Dad."

A recent article in USA Today discussed NFI’s InsideOut Dad program and the positive, transformative effect of reconnecting incarcerated fathers with their children. Children statistically benefit by having a relationship with their father, but as every father, parent and child knows, fathers benefit as well.

We at NFI will be cheering for more movies like "Despicable Me" and pushing for a greater focus on these heartwarming and realistic effects of fatherhood in media portrayals of fatherhood. Check out the movie trailer:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

12,000 Quotes, Yet One Too Few...

Since I do a fair amount of speaking on fatherhood in churches these days, I was delighted to come across a book called, “12,000 Religious Quotations.” To make things even better, it was on sale for $14.95, nearly ½ off the list price.

I was especially pleased when I read the back cover, which boasted:

  • An indispensable reference work that puts expressive statements on religion at your finger tips.
  • Nearly 12,000 quotes on 200 subjects from 2,500 different sources.
  • These quotations—some inspiring, a few controversial, many humorous, others penetrating—reflect a diversity of opinions, Christian and non-Christian.
  • Thought-provoking quotes that will enliven sermons, speeches, or reports.

Good stuff.

Well, I got the book home and quickly flipped to the section that was sure to be bursting with some inspiring quotes about fathers or fatherhood. I found the word “fate” and turn the page and found “fear…” Wait a minute. (I quickly said my ABCs…) Shouldn't father or a least fatherhood be listed? But it’s not. Maybe there is something listed under Dad, Daddy, or…Papa. Nope, nope and nope. Nothing. 12,000 quotes and not a single one on fathers.

So, then I looked up mothers. Yep, about 30 quotes with gems like:

The sweetest sound to mortal given
Are heard in Mother, Home and Heaven.
-William Goldsmith Brown

Now, I love mothers. I have one. I am married to one. And, some of my best friends are mothers. But, it seems that this author has forgotten biology 101. Without fathers, there are no mothers. (You can quote me on that one…)

I did find one quote in the “error” section that captured my sentiments.

Shall error in the round of time
Still father Truth?
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Let’s hope so…

Now, where did I put that darn receipt? To err is human, to return is divine.