Articles for Fathers

Everything listed under: fatherhood

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    Steps to Demonstrate a Positive Fatherhood Model

    We can all demonstrate a healthy and responsible fatherhood model for our community. Pass this information along to friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.

    With friends and in your own family...

    • Participate in marriage and family enrichment programs and encourage friends to do it, too.
    • Honor the covenant of marriage and be an accountability partner for fellow married friends.
    • Help mothers to be supportive of fathers’ involvement with their children, and ask your wife how you can be more involved with your own children.

    If you're an employer...

    • Create personnel policies and work environments that respect and encourage the commitment of fathers, and that enable parents to be more involved with their children.
    • Research the effects of relocating families and find ways to make the transition as smooth as possible for employees who must move.

    If you're a civic leader, elected official or community organizer...

    • Promote community organizations that model fatherhood and male responsibility.
    • Strive to develop neighborhoods that are stable and supportive of family life.

    If you're a religious leader or organizer...

    • Challenge fathers to assume moral and spiritual responsibilities.
    • Offer a broad program of teaching, supporting, counseling and training fathers in their vital role.
    • Encourage and recognize involved fathers, and provide opportunities for men to learn from each other.

    If you're a mental healthcare worker, healthcare or a family life educator...

    • Begin with a view in favor of fatherhood within the context of a marriage relationship.
    • Guide fathers to both accept and appreciate their unique roles within the family.
    • Provide continuing education on fatherhood and its responsibilities.

    If you're a family law attorney or judge...

    • Promote accountability of all fathers for each of their children.
    • Reassess current trends in family law and be an advocate for responsible fathering.

    If you're an educator or childcare provider...

    • Encourage fathers’ involvement in the classroom and invite fathers or father figures to participate in school activities.
    • Educate boys and young men concerning their potential influence as fathers.
    • Train staff about the father’s crucial role in a child’s developmental growth.

    If you work in media or journalism...

    • Promote articles, research and organizations that address and offer solutions to fathering issues.
    • Discourage advertisements or programming that reflects irresponsible fathering practices.


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    Fathers: What Research Says

    Dad, being involved matters. Here are just a few reasons why.

    Teenage girls who are close to their fathers are far less likely to become sexually active.

    Teenage girls are twice as likely to stay in school if their fathers are involved in their lives.

    “Fathers dramatically underestimate the importance of themselves in their daughters’ lives. They withdraw much too quickly, doubt their significance and influence, and grossly misunderstand how very much their daughters need and want to have a good relationship with them.” - Dr. Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

    "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. Fathers have a direct impact on the wellbeing of their children." - noted sociologist Dr. David Popenoe

    Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school or in the neighborhood. --Yeung, W. J., Duncan, G. J., & Hill, M. S. (2000). Putting Fathers Back in the Picture: Parental Activities and Children's Adult Outcomes.

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    Ways for Dad to Connect with Kids

    Wondering how you can connect with your kiddos? Here's a list to get you started!

    • Plan a regular time for Daddy/Child date to do something fun and adventurous.
    • Write a short message to them on a stick-it note and hide it in their lunch.
    • Let your child help you wash the car or fix something.
    • Play a game with them - one that they want to play.
    • If you like to cook, let them help you.
    • Take them to the park.
    • Teach your child how to do something like build a kite, a soapbox derby car, a paper airplane, etc.
    • Tell them what life was like when you were their age.
    • Listen to them - learn about their favorite things, who their friends are, their favorite game, etc.

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    Pro-Football Player to Rookie Husband and Dad

    When Buddy Curry was a professional football player, he thought life was all about him.

    “I made up my mind to have as much fun as possible,” said Curry, former Falcon inside linebacker and 1980 Defensive Rookie of the Year. Toward the end of my 8-year career, all the things I had been doing didn’t seem fun. I wanted a relationship and to settle down.”

    When Curry met the woman he would marry, he described himself as young and selfish.

    “When we got married I had no clue how to be married,” Curry said. “As an athlete, I had been coddled. Most of the time I got what I wanted and like other athletes I thought the rules applied to everybody but me.”

    Within three years the Currys’ marriage was in crisis.

    “Every time I saw my wife do something wrong I called her out,” Curry recalled. “I was critical and I hurt her very deeply. Although people loved me because I was a pretty good guy, the state of my marriage made me step back and consider how I would learn to be a good husband and father. I knew I was not strong enough to make the necessary transformation by myself.”

    Curry sought out older and wiser men to mentor him - men who would hold him accountable as well as encourage him as a husband and father. Instead of being critical toward his wife, he began serving her.

    “Even though she very clearly wanted out of the marriage, I made a decision to learn new ways of relating to her,” Curry said. “My goal was to bless her and allow time for healing in our relationship. Through a lot of tough adversity, I believe God changed me.”

    A pivotal moment in Curry’s life came with the birth of their first son. When he laid eyes on his child, he began thinking, "Do I want my son to be like me?" While he thought he had a lot of things going right in his life, he really didn’t think he wanted his son to be like him.

    “I had been making a lot of changes in my life for the better,” Curry said. “When my son was born, I realized there were other areas that needed some attention. Realizing that my children are going to follow me was eye-opening.”

    The Currys now have four children.

    “Being a father has taught me about my own weaknesses,” Curry said. “I recognize that there is a generational transfer taking place and that I am sending my children into the future. I'd like to help my kids not make the same mistakes I made. I want them to understand the importance of self-discipline, what commitment to something means – even when the going gets tough. I want to teach them how to be a good team player.”

    One of the most important lessons Curry learned is that you can have the best of intentions for your marriage and your family, but unless you're willing to invest the time to make those things happen, it’s just wishful thinking. No amount of success in the world can make up for failure at home.

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    20 Reasons Your Child Needs You

    A dad's presence is important. Here are 20 reasons why.

    1.  Lets your child know that you love him/her.

    2.  Provides your child with greater financial resources.

    3.  Gives your child a positive role model.

    4.  Provides your child with emotional support.

    5.  Enhances your child's self-esteem.

    6.  Provides your child with guidance and discipline.

    7.  Enhances your child's intellectual development.

    8.  Gives your child someone to rough and tumble play with.

    9.  Provides your child with someone to talk to when he/she has questions.

    10. Increases your child's chances for academic success.

    11. Provides your child with an alternative perspective on life.

    12. Lowers your child's chances for early sexual activity.

    13. Lowers your child's chances for school failure.

    14. Lowers your child's chances for youth suicide.

    15. Lowers your child's chances for juvenile delinquency.

    16. Lowers your child's chances for adult criminality.

    17. Provides your child with a sense of physical and emotional security.

    18. Facilitates your child's moral development.

    19. Promotes a healthy gender identity in your child.

    20. Helps your child learn important skills.

    From Reasons Why Your Child Needs You to be an Active Father by Stephen D. Green, Ph.D., Child Development Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife

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    Preparing for Fatherhood

    Don McKenna attended a First Things First fatherhood class when he and his wife, Missy, were expecting.

    “I saw a billboard about it and thought it looked interesting,” says McKenna. “I convinced a friend who was also expecting his first child to go with me. It totally was not what I was expecting. Hands down, it was the best thing I could have done in preparation for becoming a father.”

    McKenna assumed the class would be about how to change a diaper and feed his baby a bottle. Instead, he encountered a group of guys who were just as fearful as he was about becoming a father.

    “The class was a relief for me,” McKenna says. “First off, a guy taught the class. On top of that, we got to talk about our fears and concerns. Had we not done that, I think I would have been intimidated. Being more comfortable about caring for Brooks – not feeling like I was going to break him if I held him – gave me the best opportunity to bond with him from the moment he was born.”

    McKenna says the class helped him understand the different parenting styles most moms and dads have. He was able to talk with his wife about his style being different, but not wrong.

    “I wanted to do some things with our son that made my wife nervous, like the time I wanted to take him as a 2-year-old for a ride on the tractor,” McKenna says. “She was worried he would get hurt. Instead of telling her how stupid it was for her to be concerned, I took small steps to show her that I was just as concerned as she was for his safety. I put a helmet on him and we rode around very slowly. When she saw him giggling and having a good time, she relaxed a bit. I think I am definitely more patient with my wife and my child as a result of the class.”

    The experience was so worthwhile, McKenna recruited six guys for the class. He also went with them.

    “Anytime I find out a couple friend is expecting, one of the first things I tell the guy is you really need to take this class,” McKenna says. “It will give you great perspective on fathering and the importance of being involved in the life of your child.”

    Although the class helped prepare McKenna for his new parenting role, he got an extra benefit. It also helped him in his marriage.

    “It is important to me and Missy to raise Brooks in an environment that will help him thrive,” McKenna shares. “One of the things I learned is our marriage can’t take a back seat while we are raising our son. We have to be intentional about taking care of our relationship because that is what gives Brooks the stability, confidence and security he needs to grow and develop. Being a parent has been a humbling and amazing experience,” McKenna says.

    Looking back on the last few years, McKenna wouldn’t trade his time with his son and how they have grown as a family.

    If you want to learn more about preparing for fatherhood, check out our classes here.

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    The Value of Father-Daughter Relationships

    Beth, a 26-year-old church secretary was in a particularly good mood. She was actually glowing when a friend asked if her boyfriend had proposed to her.

    "Her response took me by surprise,” says Ken Canfield, author of Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers and The Heart of a Father. "She told me her father initiated a phone call to her for the first time in a very long time. I noticed she had flowers on her desk and I asked who sent her flowers.

    "With a huge smile, she told me her dad sent them to her for her birthday. Beth’s response to her father’s attention made me realize something. Even grown women hunger for love, attention and affirmation from their father.”

    Research from Canterbury and Vanderbilt Universities shows that from birth on, a father's activity and presence uniquely benefits their daughters.

    “Many men operate off of the premise that if they were uninvolved in their daughter’s life as she was growing up, it is too late to make a difference,” Canfield says. “Thinking that the die is cast or the deal is done because our children are grown is something we must re-examine. It simply is not true. In a parallel vein, research shows the devastating impact of divorce affects adult children deeply. Contrastingly, the continued investment in your child’s life even when they are parents of your grandchildren will reap tremendous benefits for you and them.”

    Studies reveal that men tend to spend more time with their sons than they do with their daughters. In fact, fathers tend to back away from their daughters during the pre-adolescence and adolescence. However, a girl's need for attention and affection during that time period is even more important.

    “When a father abandons a relationship with his daughter, she can become frozen in time relationally with the opposite sex,” Canfield says. “A 50-year-old woman may look like an adult, but on the inside she is still working on issues that should have been attended to by a healthy, engaged father.”

    Based on research, we know a few more things about these relationships. Without a healthy relationship with their father, girls will find other ways to contribute to their development when it comes to relating to men.

    “When you are frozen relationally, it is difficult to know your place and how to develop a healthy relationship. It's because you are working from a point of need instead of working out of a position of co-equal,” Canfield says. “There is a void in her life. The search to fill that void prompts her to take risks in relationships, which usually result in some really poor choices.”

    According to Canfield, limitless healing and restoration can take place in father-daughter relationships. Here are Canfield's tips:

    • Initiate communication with your adult daughter. Affirm her for the positive contributions she has made to your life or in the lives of others.
    • Consider asking for forgiveness. The three toughest things for fathers to say are: “I was wrong, I am sorry, and will you forgive me?” Use these to deepen your relationship with your daughter.
    • Ask your daughter for three ways you can support her in the coming year.
    • Ask your child’s mother (who is an adult daughter) to describe how her father influenced her most significantly.
    • Affirm your daughter’s femininity by being sensitive to her emotional highs and lows.

    Cultivate an atmosphere of “no-strings-attached” love in your home. Be ready to listen to and support your children in every challenge.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here

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    Dad's Role in a Daughter's Marriage

    Sometimes the closeness of a father/daughter relationship can interfere with the couple relationship.

    For example, one couple was arguing over purchasing a $600 set of dishes. According to the husband, they could not afford them. As a result, the wife was furious.

    When she told her father that her husband would not purchase the dishes, her dad purchased them for her. Some might say, "Why is this a problem? He was just trying help."

    But most relationship experts would say the dad crossed a line when he got in the middle of something the couple needed to figure out for themselves. If she thinks she can run to her father and get what she wants every time there is a disagreement about spending money, two things will eventually happen:

    • The husband will grow to completely resent his father-in-law, or

    • The daughter will stop discussing these things with her husband and go straight to her father to get what she wants.

    Neither of these outcomes are good for the marriage.

    Couples need to openly discuss these potential pitfalls and agree ahead of time about boundaries and expectations within their marriage.

    For Fathers:

    While it may be difficult, it is important for you to step back emotionally once your daughter is married. Even though you enjoy doing things for her, it is better to ask yourself one question: Is if what I am about to do going to be helpful to their marriage?

    If the answer is no, don't do it. OR, ask them how they would feel about you helping. If both aren't in agreement that it would be helpful, then don't do it. Let them figure it out.

    It's hard to believe that any guy will ever measure up and be good enough for your daughter. If you want their marriage to be successful, however, guard against criticizing your son-in-law.

    Recognize it is not your job to control things. And while she will always be your daughter, her husband comes first.

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    A Father's Love

    Jeff Harrell worked long hours in the restaurant business when his daughter was born. Alyssa was 3 months old when Harrell realized that she clearly had no interest in being with him.

    “That’s when I knew things had to change,” shares Harrell. “I did not want my child to grow up not knowing me. My wife and I decided that I would quit my job, although I didn’t have another job offer."

    While Harrell was stressed about leaving his job, he also felt a sense of relief because he believed better times were ahead. Fast forward more than 20 years, and daughters Alyssa and Emily will be the first to tell you that their relationship with their father is special.

    “I think one of the big things people love about coming to our house is hanging out with my dad,” Alyssa say. “More times than I can count, guys would come over, but they weren’t really here to see me or my sister. They were looking for my dad. He is a smart person and they can talk with him. He doesn’t tell them that their mistakes are ok and he encourages them to do better. Although he isn’t their bud, they open up to him and he doesn’t judge them.”

    Alyssa and Emily have a special bond with their dad, but that doesn’t mean they always agree with his rules.

    “My curfew was earlier than all our friends,” Emily says. “After dances, I had to come home instead of staying out with my friends. At the time that really irritated me because it seemed like I was the only one that had all these rules. Now I’m grateful.”

    Their dad instilled in them that the Lord wanted them to live a meaningful and impactful life. He also taught them the importance of staying away from compromising situations.

    “Both of our parents gave us boundaries,” Alyssa says. “I know that was a good thing. We have friends who are jealous of our relationship with our dad.”

    Harrell has no regrets about making career moves to be home with his girls. While some dads work hard and think they have earned the right to play golf on Saturday, Harrell believes he has earned the right to raise his children and that should be his main focus.

    “I have one shot to get this right,” Harrell says. “You don’t get to check certain boxes about what you will and won’t do as a dad. All the boxes are already checked. I signed up for the good, the bad and the ugly.”

    Here are a few things Harrell suggests to fellow dads:

    • Keep in mind your kids can either get wisdom and knowledge from you or they can get it from someone else.

    • They can either spend time with you or someone else.

    • Children can learn from suffering the consequences or seek wisdom instead.

    • Dolls, tea parties, race cars, concerts and Muppet theater are all great ways to spend your time.

    • If the relationship isn’t there before your kids leave home, it won’t be there after they leave.

    “You may think your kids don’t really need you, but that’s not true,” Harrell says. "Being 100 percent involved may cost you monetarily now, but in the end it pays off in dividends you can’t buy.”

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    A Father's Presence Has an Impact

    A few years ago, Dewayne Belew began coaching his son Christopher’s basketball team at the YMCA. Christopher aged out of the YMCA basketball leagues after eighth grade, but since he still wanted to play, he and his dad would shoot hoops together.

    “Early on, Christopher wasn’t necessarily an outstanding player, but he had a great work ethic,” says Belew. “He would watch what characters in video games did and then try to emulate what he saw when we played together. He ultimately made the junior varsity team at his school, but he wanted more.”

    As Christopher and his dad continued to play, they looked for other competitive-play opportunities.

    “At that point our church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist, hired a new youth director, Nate Davis, who also happens to love basketball,” Belew says. “One thing led to another and we ended up opening the gym at the church on Saturday mornings from 8 to 10 for anyone who wanted to come play.”

    Initially, Belew, his son and Davis and his sons invited a few people to join them on Saturday mornings. Word spread quickly and before long they had a crowd of young adults in their 20s, high school teens and middle schoolers, male and female - all wanting to play.

    “If you had told me we would have a bunch of young people who intentionally go to bed early on Friday night so they can get up and go play basketball for fun on Saturday morning at 8, I would have told you no way, but that’s exactly what is happening. We have a lot of fun. My personal goal is to not let them outhustle me, but all of them outplay me.”

    In the midst of the game, Belew contends that a lot of learning takes place.

    “The guys all know that the gym is usually already set up for Sunday so whatever is in place has to be taken down before they can play and replaced before they leave,” Belew says. “We play hard. It is definitely competitive, but everybody gets to play. We’ve got some really talented players who teach those who are coming along. I love watching the young adults come alongside the teens to help them hone their skills.”

    Belew shared that a teen told him he plays basketball all over the community, but this is his favorite place to play because everybody plays hard, nobody is foul-mouthed and nobody gets angry. It’s fun.

    “In the midst of all of this we have the opportunity to model appropriate behavior around not just the game, but life in general,” Belew says. “We are a very diverse crowd on Saturday mornings. For many of these folks, it was the only time they engaged with each other. Now, they are building relationships. Before we start playing, we always gather at mid court to pray for each other and we give people the chance to share what is on their hearts. For me, and I think for my son and others, this has been life-changing on many levels. 

    Many young men’s lives are being enriched because one dad paid attention to something that was important to his son. Opportunities to speak life into our community’s kids are everywhere, and often, the only requirement is a little bit of our time. 

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here

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    Courageous: A Movie About Fathers

    The movie Courageous tells the story of four men with one calling: to serve and protect. As confident and focused law enforcement officers, they stand up to the worst the streets have to offer. Yet at the end of the day, they aren't truly prepared to tackle the challenge of fatherhood. When tragedy strikes, these men wrestle with their hopes, their fears, their faith and their fathering.

    “I loved being a part of this movie,” says Renee Jewell, who plays Victoria Mitchell, wife of the lead character, Adam. “The experience was eye-opening and faith-building for me. We worked hard to make the movie very real for people. Whether you are a married, never-married or divorced dad, this movie will speak to you.”

    Local folks may recognize Jewell’s face on the big screen because she grew up in Hixson and Ooltewah.

    A big takeaway for Jewell from the movie was recognizing how much she appreciated her father for being there for her and encouraging her to follow her dream.

    “I remembered my dad talking about wanting to be an artist, but he was discouraged from following that path. He ended up going into engineering,” Jewell says. “I loved the arts, especially music. “Knowing the importance of following your passion, my father encouraged me to follow my dream. What he did for me growing up gave me the opportunity to do amazing things including being a part of this movie.”

    An overarching message of the movie is that the decisions fathers make today create a legacy one way or the other.

    “Something that hit me while we were filming was that for a long time fathers and mothers alike have been checking the boxes – going to church, putting food on the table, going to the soccer game – and assuming that is good enough,” Jewell says. “The reality is that isn’t good enough. We need to be pouring into the hearts of our kids engaging them and building relationship with them. Even when things don’t go the way we anticipated, it doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of being the parents our children need us to be.”

    The movie is full of intense emotion as well as hysterically funny moments. Its message: It takes courage to be the father children need.

    A courageous dad:

    • Invests at least five minutes a day learning how to enhance his fathering skills.

    • Surrounds himself with other like-minded men.

    • Prays for his children.

    • Demonstrates to his kids how a man should treat his wife, and how women should expect men to treat her.

    • Understands his role in disciplining his children.

    • Accepts that his wife and children are healthier emotionally, physically and mentally when he is intentionally present, and acts with wisdom and discernment for their greater good.

    • Teaches his children how to forgive, deal with temptation and to serve.

    • Stands for what is right even when he is standing alone.

    “Every father should go see this movie,” Jewell says. “It’s a life-changer.”

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    Kids Need Their Daddy

    The pressures of fatherhood are great. On any given day, balancing work and family, finances and discipline usually rank at the top of the issue list. For years, our culture has told men that being a good provider equates to being a good dad. However, research is now sending a newsflash that it isn’t all about the money. Children need father presence in their lives.

    Many men want to be involved in their child's life, but "being involved" can mean different things to different people.

    Ask yourself the question, "Why do I father my children the way I do?"

    So many men are really trying to be great fathers, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes it's because nobody was there for them growing up and they aren’t sure what it means to be a good dad. A lot of men promise to be more involved with their children because their own father wasn't involved enough. Unfortunately though, they find themselves hard-pressed because they don’t know what to do. They've spent a lot of time talking about what they aren’t going to do - and little, if any time - discussing what they are going to do. So they amble along doing the best they know how.

    In an analysis of nearly 100 studies on parent-child relationships, father love (measured by children’s perceptions of paternal acceptance/rejection, affection/indifference) was as important as mother love in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.

    Specifically, the studies showed that:

    • Having a loving and nurturing father affected a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as much as having a loving and nurturing mother.
    • If either parent withdrew love, it was equally influential in predicting a child’s emotional instability, lack of self-esteem, depression, social withdrawal and level of aggression.
    • In some studies, father love was actually a better predictor than mother love for certain outcomes. This included delinquency and conduct problems, substance abuse, and overall mental health and well-being.

    It's important for men to learn how to balance providing for and nurturing their family, but many men don’t feel comfortable connecting with their children emotionally. As a result, they spend most of their waking hours away from home.

    If you want to make something amazing happen for your family, you can. 

    Spending all your time away from them actually defeats the purpose. In many instances, your being there is better than tons of things and busy plans.

    If you want to connect with your children more, these tips can help:

    • Ask your children thought-provoking questions. Then listen so you can hear what they are thinking.
    • Some of the best things in life are free. Walking outdoors, horseplay, tumbling on the floor, fishing, riding bikes and flying kites are totally free, great ways to connect. Many times children will not remember things you bought them, but they will remember things you have done with them.

    So what's the payoff for engaging with your kids?

    The benefits are significant for both father and child. Children with an involved, loving father are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior. They're also more likely to avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy and criminal activity. 

    Even though 18 years may seem like an eternity, it's not. Children grow up really quickly, so maximize precious moments with them.

    For more information on the importance of fathers, download our E-book "Why Being a dad is a BIG Deal" Download Here