Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guest Post: Let the Video Games Begin!

This is a guest blog post by Chris Dahlen. Chris is the editor-in-chief of Kill Screen Magazine (, a quarterly magazine and website devoted to games and culture. He lives in Portsmouth, NH with his wife and his six-year-old son. Chris contributes his advice on choosing videogames for the family as part of NFI's campaign Let the Games Begin: Get Your Game Face on for Family Game Night.

Videogames are fun for the whole family—but how often does a whole family play them? From the console in your living room to the computer in your home office, you can find hundreds of games that are more fun if you experience them together.

Some parents view videogames as an unhealthy alternative to playing catch, or visiting a museum. But in our home, videogames are the perfect wind-down after all those other activities. My son and I regularly end a busy day with a game that stretches our imaginations and challenges us to solve problems, follow instructions, and work as a team. (I’ve also found that nothing motivates good behavior like granting game privileges—or taking them away.)

Look for games that invite two or more players to work together. If you grew up with games like King’s Quest or Zork, try playing Machinarium: you and your child can split time on the keyboard and work together to beat each puzzle. In Portal 2’s “co-op” mode, you’ll work together to solve a series of obstacle courses that test your brains and your reflexes. Even if one of you takes the lead, the other still plays an important role in completing each challenge. Other games encourage parents to stand back and assist: in Super Mario Galaxy, the parent can use a second controller to assist the child and to point the way to the next goal.

Most of all, find games that are good. Skip the low-quality movie tie-in games, and look for excellent $10-15 downloadables like Costume Quest or Flower. Read reviews, and if there’s a free demo, try it out yourself: is this a game that will be challenging, but not frustrating? Does it encourage co-operative play? Is it too violent, or scary? (ESRB ratings are also your friend: stick with games that have an “E” or “E10” rating and be sure to read the tags, and you should never stumble into anything inappropriate.) Even when your kid plays a single-player game, make time to watch and give advice and moral support. Children only bury their faces in their Nintendo DS’s if you let them: stay involved and they’ll look forward to having you by their side.

Like birthday cake and late-night ghost stories, videogames should be enjoyed in moderation. But they should be enjoyed—and beaten—by the whole family. At a time when too many families find themselves staring at separate screens, lost in their own experiences, a great game can bring the whole living room together.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fit2Father is Around the Corner!

In September, NFI will be launching its nationally recognized Fit2Father program. This is a six week online program to help dads connect to their kids through fitness. Healthy fathers create healthy families and Fit2Father helps dads to achieve just that!

Here are three steps that you can take to get Fit2Father-

1. Take the Pledge to get Fit2Father
When you take the pledge you will receive a weekly email in your inbox with helpful tips to get your family connected and get you Fit2Father. Take the pledge!

2. Register to Host a Fit1Father walk in your area!
Raise awareness of the importance of fatherhood in your community and earn helpful fatherhood resources for your local organization when you register to host a walk. Learn more here.

3. Get walking!
Find a Fit2Father walk in your community, or join us in Washington DC on October 16th as we walk for fatherhood in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause! Register today!

If there are any questions about Fit2Father, email Brittany DeFrehn at

Friday, August 26, 2011

NFI honors Sherwood Pictures with a Fatherhood Award for movie "Courageous"

Today NFI's president Roland C. Warren is in Atlanta to present a Fatherhood Award to Sherwood Pictures for the film Courageous, being released in theaters on September 30. We are excited about the incredible message this film has for fathers and plan to discuss themes and highlights from the movie in the next few weeks here on The Father Factor blog, on our Facebook page, Twitter, and in our weekly Dad Email. Stay tuned to learn more!

In the meantime...

  • Read the Press Release about why NFI is honoring Sherwood Pictures with a Fatherhood Award for Courageous here
  • Watch the Trailer for Courageous here
  • Watch Roland talking about the impact of Courageous here
  • Order tickets to see Courageous in theaters, opening on September 30, here
As Roland said, “It’s rare that a movie has the potential to become a movement. But from the moment we saw Courageous, we knew it had the power not only to entertain but to transform the lives of fathers.” Congratulations to Sherwood Pictures, not only for receiving a Fatherhood Award today, but more importantly for their work to inspire men to be the courageous fathers their children need them to be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Let the Games Begin! Ideas from NFI Staff

NFI's theme for the month of August is Let the Games Begin: Get Your Game Face on for Family Game Night! We're encouraging families to play games with their families on Wednesday nights, or another night of the week that works best. We got some great suggestions for family games from our Facebook and Twitter followers. Now, check out some of NFI staff members' favorite games to play with their families:

Elaine, mom of one son, has a favorite game that is shared across three generations in her family.

When I was 11 years old, my family and I visited New Zealand. While we were there, we played a British board game called "Crosshand Poker." It's like scrabble, but you make poker hands instead of words. (No betting though!) We enjoyed playing it so much that we brought a copy of it back with us. Over the years, we have continued to play together and have even kept every score card. It is always a good reminder of the trip of a lifetime that we took together. In fact, just last year, I decided to order my own copy online to play with my husband -- unbeknownst to me that my mom had ordered me one at the same time! A great family tradition to pass along to my own son when he gets older!
For Roland, father of two sons, playing games is an opportunity not only for laughs, but life lessons.
I used to love playing "chutes and ladders" with my sons. They took great delight in watching me slide down by landing on the unfortunate spot. The game also offered an excellent life lesson. Sometimes you will encounter obstacles that can set you back due to no fault of your own. Nonetheless, you have to persevere and keep moving forward.

Evelyn, mom of three and NFI's resident ping pong champion, points out that playing games can have helpful physical benefits too!
An easy way to get in shape and have fun is through playing ping-pong. Not only does it increase the heart rate, it improves hand-eye coordination, and burns an average of 175 calories per hour! Children and adults of all ages enjoy ping-pong. Personally, it is an investment paid for itself through active playtime spent with my family.

Melissa shares about life lessons she learned from playing cards with her grandfather.
When I was young, and visited my grandparents in Ohio, my favorite game to play with my Pap was the card game "Crazy 8's". I wasn't all that good at it for many years, but he taught me how to improve my game, amidst my frustration of him winning most of the time. He always seemed to have just the right "last card" to lay down… and somehow I always seemed to be playing right into his hand. But as I got older, I began to play better, and I started beating Pap more often.

However, winning wasn’t really what mattered to most to me about those Crazy 8 games with Pap. It was the time he was spending with me, investing in teaching me how to master something like a card game, that mattered most. He was also teaching me the valuable thought processes of planning and logic, and how to think ahead in order to make wise decisions in advance of taking action.

Now that Pap is no longer with us, I will always remember the time with my Pap and those games of Crazy 8's quite fondly. And that its not just about winning the game.
Erik, dad of two daughters, likes playing games that involve creativity.
We play a drawing game where everyone gets a stack of small sheets of paper and writes down a phrase, movie, song title, etc. Everyone passes their phrase with the stack of paper to the person next to them. The next person reads it, places it at the bottom of the stack and then draws a representation of the phrase. Everyone passes their drawing to the person next to them to write a phrase they think represents the drawing. This continues until each person has their original phrase back. Everyone takes turns sharing their stack of paper and it’s hilarious to hear how the end phrase is nothing like it started out. We also have 2 people in our family who are good at drawing and 3 who are not so we laugh at the pictures too.

We also like to play a series of improvisation games. One is where the family agrees on a scene to act out using an interesting job and 2 players act out the scene while 2 others provide the sound effects. Another one is where the family comes up with a scene using a kind of movie (western, romance, science fiction, etc.) and 2 people act it out while a third person says “new choice” anytime they don’t like what the person says. Then that person has to change their phrase until that person lets them continue with the scene. We also do one where someone writes down silly phrases on slips of paper and gives it to the rest of the family. We pick a scene and pull out the slips of paper to read the phrase randomly throughout the scene. Not only do we laugh hysterically during the scenes, but it creates memories that last a lifetime.
What are some of your favorite games to play with your family? Do you have any special memories attached to those games? What life lessons do you teach your kids through playing games?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Google Chrome Hits a Home Run with "Dear Sophie"

“In our 17 years of tracking cultural statements about the importance of fatherhood, the “Dear Sophie” film stands out as one of the most positive messages we have ever found." -- NFI president, Roland C. Warren on Google Chrome's Fatherhood Award-winning film.

If you haven't yet seen "Dear Sophie," Google's short film about its Chrome browser, then watch it now:

As you can see, this was a no-brainer for us in deciding to honor Google with a Fatherhood Award™ for this powerful message about what good dads do.

One of the reasons it is so powerful is that rather than taking the usual tack with technology -- that it is a distraction that only geeks are interested in -- it shows instead how dads, who love technology, can use it to be better fathers. (Kinda sounds like our Tech Savvy Daddy campaign...)

Do you see yourself as the dad in "Dear Sophie"? Tell us about how you use technology to be a better dad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

President Obama and Work-Family Balance

Forbes just published an interesting take on President Obama's vacation. Putting politics aside, the article (by Lauren Stiller Rikleen) makes a good point about the importance of dads achieving work-family balance for their children's sakes.

I was struck by how simple yet profound this statement is: "...there are important lessons to be learned here about fatherhood. This is because the president is also the father of 2 young girls, both of whom have expectations about family time during the summer..."

When you think about fatherhood from the perspective of what children need, the story looks a little different. Amazingly, this is something we have to do often here at NFI - remind folks that fatherhood should not be thought about from the perspective of adults, but from that of children.

And when you do that in the context of work-family balance, it is clear that fathers are under a great deal of stress, and the environment needs to change to keep pace with fathers' deep desires to be more engaged in their children's lives.

Hopefully, folks will be able to see this particular lesson from the President's actions.

What do you think we can learn about work-family balance from the President's choice to go on vacation?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flash Mobs and Absent Dads

Many of you have probably heard about the recent spate of crimes that were driven by "flash mobs" organized via social media and mobile devices.

In case you don't know, a flash mob is "a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, or artistic expression."

Interesting that this definition (from Wikipedia) does not (yet) include "for the purpose of committing a crime."

But that, sadly, is just what is happening. In fact, a very high profile case just happened in the very town in which NFI is headquartered, Germantown, MD. had front page coverage of the incident here:

The county where NFI sits, Montgomery County, is, on the whole, a thriving community with great schools and safe neighborhoods. But a gang problem is starting to emerge in communities where rates of father absence are higher. These flash mobs are a symptom of that same trend.

Now, you are going to get all kinds of commentary about these crimes, but, as you can suspect, we here at NFI have a very simple question: where are the dads?

We already know that a disproportionate number of gang members and prisoners are from father-absent homes. This is no different; the youth causing this mayhem lack fatherly guidance at home. Sure there are other factors, but if there were involved, responsible, and committed fathers in these homes, these reckless teens would not be engaging in such senseless acts. In fact, most of the dads I have spoken to would not even let such troubled youth have a private cell phone, let alone use one to organize a crime.

So, is there a "father factor" in flash mob violence? You bet there is.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Q&A with Joe Ehrmann, author of InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives

Joe Ehrmann is a former defensive lineman for the Baltimore Colts and the Detroit Lions. He and his wife Paula have four children and are cofounders of Coach for America, whose mission is to inform, inspire, and initiate individual, community, and societal change through sports and coaching. Joe’s new book InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives was released on August 2 and is available for purchase on Amazon and other retailers.

NFI: You start the introduction to InSideOut Coaching by telling a moving story about driving home one night with your young son, realizing how much you love him, and recognizing that your father never felt that way about you. Why do you think a father’s love plays such a crucial role in a child’s life?

JE: Young people are hardwired to get that affirmation and love and acceptance, particularly from their dads, as well as their moms. Their basic self-concept of who they are is dependent on that relationship. Look at the tremendous number of dads who have abdicated that responsibility and leave children with huge questions about their identity and worth. Dads are one of the chief artists in painting the picture of who we are. As I travel the country, it’s the number one condition of children in America – it’s the lack of closure in those wounds as you grow from childhood to adulthood that continues to impact children’s relationships and identity.

In an age when 24 million children are growing up with an absent father, we need dads mentor kids in their sphere of influence who need a father figure in their life. NFI calls this being a Double Duty Dad. How can coaches fill that role for their athletes?

JE: Sports engage more individuals, families, and communities than any cultural activity, religion, or group. 20-30 million children play youth league sports and 10 million play interscholastic high school sports. 40 million children stand in front of the one of the most influential adults in their lives. Coaches have an unparalleled platform and position to formulate children’s self-worth and identity. When you have players who don’t have a dad, it’s an incredible opportunity to be an example of what it means to be a man. Coaches can teach what fatherhood is, what a dad looks like. Coaches have an opportunity to help kids make sense of their relationship with their dad. The challenge is that coaching has been reduced to win-at-all-costs mentality.

NFI: Who was the most important coach in your life and what character quality of his made the biggest impact on you?

JE: I played for coaches from age 10 to 36. I looked back and charted every coach I played for and graded them if they were transactional (transactional coaches use players’ athletic ability for their benefit) or if they were intentionally transformational in my life (transformational coaches change the arch of their player’s life – they understand that’s the responsibility that comes with the power of the whistle). The most influential coach in my life was my college lacrosse coach Roy Simmons Jr., a man of great empathy and compassion. He was an artist – he saw the aesthetics not only of sports but of life. Lacrosse was a Native American sport, so he taught us about Native American history and took us to art museums. He coached me in a way that I saw things in myself that I had never seen before. When I started thinking about my coaching philosophy, I knew I wanted to be outside of the traditional model so I looked back at him.

NFI: Describe the InsideOut Coaching Process/Program

JE: It’s based on attachment research. Attachment is the formation and maintenance of relationships. 40 years ago a psychoanalyst in Great Britain working with juvenile delinquents asked how some parents had the ability to enable their children to attach to them, or to relate to them, in a way that optimized their development, but some didn’t. The answer has to do with how a parent has processed their own story about themselves. It doesn’t matter how suboptimal or abusive your childhood was, if you make sense of it and integrate it, you are not destined to repeat it with your own children.

My wife and I decided if that’s true in the parent-child relationship, it has to be true in the player-coach relationship. The biggest predictor of a coach’s ability to allow his players to attach to him in an optimal way is if the coach has processed his own story and understood the role of his father and coaches in the formation of his self-concept and developmental need. Once a coach develops his own narratives and makes sense it, it creates an empathic response to his players.

The InsideOut process is building your own narrative by asking 4 questions. 1: Why do you coach? Is it about you or your players? 2) Why do you coach the way that you do? Is the way that you run practices and relationships with players repeating the way you were coached or are you trying to be transformational? 3) What does it feel like to be coached by you? What does it feel like to be a young person with all the pressures (psychological, social, sexual, parental, etc.)? What does it feel like to have you as a coach in the midst of all their developmental needs? 4) How do you define and measure success? Most coaches have none of these things written out or know how to think through it. These questions can only be answered with integrity from your own narrative and life history.

When I started coaching, I had a clear purpose statement about the intent - why I was coaching, what I wanted to accomplish in the lives of my players. I coach to help boys become men of empathy and integrity who will lead, be responsible, and change the world for good. Every practice, drill, and game are designed to help fulfill that purpose.

NFI: What motivates you to do what you do through Coach for America and your other initiatives, such as Building Men and Women for Others?

JE: I’m a product of the 1960s – I was in college during the convergence of the civil rights, women rights, human rights, and war on poverty movements. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s not a better venue to address these issues than sports. Sports are a metaphor for change. Secondly, I have my own narrative. I’m in touch with my own anger, abuse, and issues I’ve dealt with. I’m very empathic when I think about my own players. When my brother died, Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning was influential – he says that the greatest of all human freedoms is the ability to choose how you will make meaning out of your circumstances. I’ve taken the painful parts of my life and figured out how to make meaning out of it to help others. I’m making sure that at the end of my life, I will have been relationally successful and have left a mark to make the world a better place. For me that venue is sports and coaching.

NFI: Anything else you want to share with us?

JE: It is the moral responsibility of every citizen to step in when children have parents who can’t or won’t take care of them. That’s what NFI’s Double Duty Dad initiative is about – when you see children who are abandoned or needing, it ought to touch us. If there’s one problem in America, it’s an empathy deficit. That’s the result of the socialization process of men who are denied access to their feelings or emotions as they grow up. The three scariest words to a boy are “be a man” – we’re telling boys to disconnect their hearts from their heads. So when men become dads, they don’t have the empathy to connect with their kids, and that’s where the problems begin. We need to create empathy – humans are wired with empathy, it’s what separates humans from animals, but it needs to be nurtured.

Thanks to Joe Ehrmann for taking time to talk with us! Check out InSide Out Coaching by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let the Games Begin! Ideas from Dads & Moms - Part 2

During the month of August, NFI is encouraging dads and moms to make Wednesday night Family Game Night this month. Through our weekly Dad Email, we are providing suggestions of games for all ages and tips on how to make Family Game Night fun for all.

We asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers to tell us about their family's favorite games and we got an overwhelming response! We shared some of their stories here on The Father Factor last week. Check out the rest of their suggestions below and try some of these games at home with your kids!

  • We've had a Tuesday night "family night" for a couple of years now. We have played tons of different games, but two of the kids (10 & 11) favorites are a drawing contest (we do about five or six and the winner of each gets to pick the theme and winner of the next one) and plays (where two or three of us make up a play in about 10 or 15 minutes, then perform it for the other one or two).
  • With grown children we like Phase 10 and Sequence!
  • We sit around our dining room table and play Uno for the "Championship." The champion gets a kiss on the cheek from each loser. My two daughters and wife love the bragging rights and extra attention. :)
  • My girls and I enjoy geocaching. It is a great sport to get families outside and having fun. You use a hand held GPS to locate caches (i.e. boxes with a log book to sign and trinkets to trade) hidden by fellow cachers in fun and/or interesting places. Check it out at
  • Scrabble or any word game, helping the younger kids, allowing the dictionary until they get good enough to spell words on their own. Helps in building not only vocabulary and spelling skills but also healthy competitiveness and self-confidence. Some of the other word games could include Boggle, what we call fast Scrabble (now marketed as Bananagrams) where each person forms their own crossword puzzle with their Scrabble tiles, forming as many words as you can from a large word written on paper or a blackboard, etc
  • We love Twister - an oldie but a goodie!
  • I always loved the "alphabet game"...finding each letter of the alphabet in order from A to Z. first one wins! Played on a road trip to pass the time.
  • My daughter loves to play Minecraft with me. I love to build stuff and she loves hunting the monsters!
  • Table top role-playing games (like dungeons and dragons) because it encourages them to use their imagination.
  • Favorite family games are twister, Star Wars Monopoly, and Cadoo!
  • My daughter and I love to make forts! Turning the kitchen table chairs around and draping blankets off the sides of the table make a perfect start for dining room creative construction.
Thanks so much to all our Facebook friends and Twitter followers who shared their family memories and told us about the games their kids love to play! Hopefully these ideas and the ones shared last week inspire you to Let the Games Begin: Get Your Game Face on for Family Game Night Fun! Tell us how it goes on Facebook - we'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

People Are Dying because of Father Absence...

Since I am from Ohio and most of my family lives there, I still keep up with the news. Accordingly, I have tracked from afar the trial of convicted serial killer, Anthony Sowell, who raped and murdered 11 women...that they know of. You can read about his sentencing hearing here but note the below passage from the article.

"A social worker, Lori James-Townes, testified for the defense that Sowell had an "extremely horrible" childhood marked by abuse and an absent father and saw nieces whipped almost daily, adding up to a home environment that "had a horrific cumulative effect" on him. She narrated a family tree going back generations that included sexual abuse, absent fathers, health problems, drug abuse and mental illness."

A few months ago, I visited Angola prison in Louisiana, which is the nation's largest maximum security prison. It sits on about 15,000 acres and houses over 5,000 inmates, 4,000 serving life sentences and the rest serving sentences averaging 99 years. Despite these circumstances, they are running the InsideOut Dad program, NFI's program for incarcerated fathers. You see, most of these men are fathers and most of them grew up without fathers and their biggest fear is that their children will follow them to prison. InsideOut Dad helps them break the cycle by teaching them to be better father, despite being in prison.

In any case, I will never forget a conversation that I had with one of the guys. He is serving a life sentence with no parole for first-degree murder. He came to Angola when he was just 17 and has been there for 18 years and he has a 18-year-old son.

Interestingly, he told me that this was not his first time at Angola. He came through the gates of the prison as a 7-year-old boy to meet his father for the first time in the prison's visiting room. He offered that he has a twin brother who is also in prison. Indeed, prison is his family's legacy and he wanted to change this for his son.

This is why I, along with the NFI team, work so hard, despite the obstacles. Children's lives are at stake and, as the story of Anthony Sowell attests, people are dying because of father absence.

But there is hope.

I ask that you will take just a few minutes to click here to watch this short video about how NFI's work broke a prison legacy and saved a child from a possible life of crime and abuse.

Then, I hope that you will click here to support NFI's life saving work. We could really use your help now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Help us Honor Braydon's Dad

Last week we posted this article about Braydon Nichols and his father, Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, who died tragically in the downing of a US helicopter in Eastern Afghanistan on August 6th.

After posting this, our staff here at NFI was left wondering…what can we do? We were so touched by his story and wanted to honor this little boy and his father in a tangible way.

Upon researching this tragic event further, we discovered that there were at least 10 other fathers who died in that crash leaving behind 22 children. So, Braydon’s story was just one of 22 other tragic stories unfolding that week.

In response, we have created a campaign, “Honor Braydon’s Dad.” This campaign will collect donations to support other military families on the bases of the fallen soldiers. The donations will be used to provide these families with our Deployed Fathers and Families Guide™ (and other resources) to help during difficult deployments.

We at the National fatherhood Initiative wish to send our condolences to those who lost loved ones on August 6th, 2011 and thank them for all that they have sacrificed. Visit Honor Braydon’s Dad to donate today.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Addicted to Fathering Children? The Definition of a Feckless Father.

It’s so interesting when fatherhood stories like these hit the news: Is this Britain's most feckless father? People are shocked by stories like this, yet at the same time, many don’t think we have a “fatherhood crisis” in America, or other countries for that matter.

Clearly this guy could have benefited from some of our fatherhood skill-building resources! Perhaps his view of procreation would have taken a different path and he’d be more responsible to bring children into the world that he could actually have the time (and interest for that matter) to be involved with.

Even his mother is “sick” about his choices. Lorraine Cummings says about her son, “'I love Jamie and I love all of my grandchildren. But enough is enough. It is time for my son to stop fathering babies and start being a father.'

I can only image how difficult it is for this man to actually to be an involved, responsible, committed father. With 13 mothers of his children, he’s got quite a “harem” to attend to. Imagine the drama! And his poor kids –being a father is spelled T-I-M-E. And how much of that does this guy really have to give? I mean, he’s busy having his 15th baby with his 13th lover.

The article mentions, “He [Jaime] often spends Christmas day flitting between each of the women and will sometimes spend his money buying lavish gifts rather than buying food and clothes.” Talk about priorities out of order. Does this guy have a care in the world for the children he’s fathering?

From birthdays and holidays, to children’s school needs and a desire for their dad to be there to see them play sports, perform in a school play, or be at some other event they’re participating in, Jaime certainly can’t be there in a way that matters most to his children: time.

Every child deserves an involved, responsible, and committed father.

What are you doing to prepare young men to make responsible fathering decisions and equip them with attitudes and skills regarding marriage to the mother of their children?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Real Toll of War Through the Eyes of a Little Boy

Last week, a US helicopter was shot down and 30 US soldiers were tragically killed.

This week, Braydon Nichols, son of Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, the helicopter pilot who died in the crash last week, provided a window into a private world of the toll of war on military families.

After watching the reports on TV that we have all seen, Braydon wrote to CNN to ask that a photo of his dad be included in their reports. His earnest efforts to pay respects to his father tugged on the heartstrings of millions and went viral. See the CNN article here. His Mom recounts how in the past few days she watched her son struggle with the very real reality that his father was not coming home.

Military personnel and their families are making great sacrifices every day. Some are unfortunately forced into making the greatest sacrifice of losing their loved ones- their dads. There are approximately 1.8 million children like Braydon who deal with the hardships of military life. For these families, NFI is committed to providing military families the support they need. Learn more here.

We at NFI extend our condolences to Braydon and his family as well as to the other military families that were impacted last week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fatherhood Questions Answered Here

Do you have questions about fatherhood that you want NFI president Roland Warren to answer? Submit your questions on NFI's Facebook page and we will post his video responses to selected questions throughout the year.

See Roland in action in this video:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let the Games Begin! Ideas from Dads & Moms - Part 1

This week, NFI kicked off a new campaign called Let the Games Begin: Get Your Game Face On for Family Game Night Fun! We are encouraging dads (and moms too!) to make Wednesday nights during the month of August Family Game Night and play a game with their kids. Through our weekly Dad Email, we will be providing suggestions for games to play with kids of all ages and tips for engaging kids in family game time. (If you're not already receiving the Dad Email, you can sign-up by clicking here.)

We started the Let the Games Begin! campaign by asking our Facebook friends and Twitter followers - dads and moms across the country - to tell us about their family's favorite games to play. We got a ton of great ideas - so many, in fact, that I have to split this into two separate blog posts to share everything! Take a look what they shared with us and try some of these ideas with your family:

  • Oh, man. My family is super competitive and we love words, so we have a traditional Scrabble tournament at Thanksgiving that usually lasts 2-3 days...we pair up in brackets and winners play winners. Pre-set family rules apply: 1) one dictionary for the entire tournament, 2) 9 letters per person, 3) timed 3 minute turns. :)
  • Dance Central on the X-box. Gets the kiddos off the couch and moving around. Also gives them a chance to laugh at their old man as he tries to dance.
  • My boys love completing stories. For example, I'll make up a beginning, then my oldest will add some details, then the youngest goes and so forth. It gets their creative juices flowing and it's fun to see how differently their minds work.
  • Monopoly - My daughter recently got into the facebook game and so we started playing the original board game. Thanks for all you do for fathers, we appreciate it so much! I find it is hard to have a network of single fathers that can work together to find ways to enhance relationships with our children. Thank you again!
  • We have an annual Family Fishing Derby. Kids vs Dad. Winner gets ice cream on the way home.
  • My dad would always take me outside after dinner and play HORSE in our makeshift basketball court, aka, the driveway. Not only did it keep us active, but it allowed us to talk for an hour or so before the sun came down. I felt comfortable telling him anything, and he knew everything that was going on in my life.
  • I have 2 little girls, 5 & 8. We have tons of outdoor activities at our house (playhouse, sprinkler, trampoline) and several indoor activities (board games, legos, wii, etc.) but the thing everyone laughs the hardest at and enjoys the most is the Balloon game. Just blow up a balloon lay on the floor and don't let it hit the ground. That's it!
  • Mine are 7, 4, and 2. They are nuts for hide and seek. I will try the balloon game. Thx 4 the idea.
  • Apples to Apples byMattel - really FUN during the "defend your answer" part of the game. Kids LOVE as do parents.
Stay tuned for a blog post next week with the rest of their ideas. If you have a game that your kids enjoy playing with you, tell us about it by posting on our Facebook wall and I'll include it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Father Absence is Preventable: Here's How

Even though most folks we tell about our work agree that it is important, they sometimes have their doubts about whether or not it is possible to actually prevent father absence. Can you really change people's choices around such a personal issue?

For all of those who have asked that question, or have thought of asking it, watch this video:

Learn more at

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Remember When..."

This is a blog post by Blaire Brachfeld, NFI's Special Assistant to the President. Blaire concludes NFI's "Get Out: Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer" campaign by sharing memories from her childhood.

National Fatherhood Initiative’s "Get Out! Hit the Great Outdoors with Your Kids This Summer" campaign in July motivated me to ask my parents some of their favorite memories from when my sister and I were little. My sister is five years older than I am, so many of the memories she and my parents have, I only remember through pictures and stories. In my family, every story begins with “remember when…”

“Remember when we went to Yellowstone and all mom wanted to do was see a bear?” My mom did end up seeing a bear, on our last day at the national park, near a wonderful spot called Minerva Terrace. I remember, mostly through photographs, how breathtakingly gorgeous it was there.

“Remember when we were at the Grand Tetons and there were field mice in our room?” I can recall a lot of shrieking from my mom and sister. My dad, being the practical man he is told the front desk about the vermin and was informed in the sweetest western twang that field mice are to the west what ants are to the east. So for a week, we coexisted with the mice - we even named them!

“Remember when we rode horses down the Grand Canyon?” My parents to this day make fun of the fact that for some strange reason my 60-pounds was put on the biggest horse of the bunch. I don’t remember much of the ride. I can’t comment on the grandeur of the view. But I do remember that my parents were so proud of me because I wasn’t afraid.

My family has thousands of “remember when” stories, most of which are centered on the time that my family spent together, exploring the world. I may not recall each moment but I certainly remember the feeling of being with the people who love me the most, with the natural beauty of this planet as a backdrop.

Sometimes, when I am alone I can still envision watching the night sky in the secluded deserts of Arizona with just my dad, my mom, and my sister. I see a shooting star blaze by with my eyes closed, and I think, “Remember when I was the luckiest girl in the world?” Yeah, I remember that one. I still am.