Every year, there are articles, blog posts and publications that cause us to reflect on the role of fathers and the challenges that we face as dads. These new articles from 2012 help us see the value of fatherhood, the importance of what we do as fathers, and look at good role models of men who have lived their commitment to family and fatherhood.
The folks at Huggies diapers have started an ad campaign encouraging mothers to put the diapers to a "Dad Test." They have called on consumers on their Facebook page to "Nominate a dad. Hand him some (Huggies) diapers and wipes and watch the fun. Tell us how it went on Facebook!" And the video teaser is even more direct: "To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for 5 days while we gave moms some well-deserved time off. How did Huggies products hold up to daddyhood? The world is about to find out."
The parenting world is all abuzz about the most recent issue of Time Magazine. It is partly about the article on attachment parenting but mostly about the cover which features a toddler standing up, nursing at his mother's breast, with the evocative title, "Are You Mom Enough?" The Time article talks about the pros and cons of attachment parenting, quoting a variety of parenting experts and parents who have been practicing attachment parenting for many years. One element of attachment parenting (one among many) relates to the importance of breastfeeding as an emotionally and physically healthy feeding approach.
The President announced a new government initiative aimed at helping young fathers access the resources they need to succeed. Called the Fatherhood Buzz, this effort by the The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse of the US Department of Health and Human Services is using barbershops in Albany, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. to connect fathers to programs in those communities that promote responsible fatherhood. Every couple of months, dads and their barbers participating in the initiative will get a different "buzz" topic to discuss at the barbershop.
SnapChat is a new app for the iPhone and Android which has become very popular among tweens, teens and young adults. It offers the ability to send photos from one member to another with a time limit on the life of the photo. That is all well and good and kids will love it. But there can be some dangers lurking in an app like SnapChat and the false sense of security it might bring.
Best selling author Stephen R. Covey passed away in July. What impressed me most about Dr. Covey all these years was his commitment to his family. I was able to see in close proximity that he lived at home and with his family the principles he taught professionally. I don't think I have ever know a better and more committed father than Stephen Covey, nor have I ever known a man that is more congruent - meaning that his life truly reflected his beliefs.
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Another celebrity who passed away this year was American actor Andy Griffith. In the 1960's, the Andy Griffith Show was one of those classics where we saw a dad in action. In the case of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina, we even saw the role a single dad played in the life of his son and his family. That was quite a different take from Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best, popular family sitcoms of the day.
Roland Warren, the president of the National Fatherhood Initiative announced that he was stepping down as president and would be appointed to the board of directors. He will be changing employment and will lead another non-profit organization for which he has a passion. Roland has been a tireless advocate for responsible fatherhood for many years. He has written extensively about fatherhood, including a couple of guest blog posts here at About.com Fatherhood.
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Even as men have made great strides as fathers, however, they can find themselves rudderless as spouses. "We're getting a new cultural script for a 'new dad' but not for a 'new husband,' " says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project. "That married people with children now often refer to themselves as a 'stay-at-home mom' or 'stay-at-home dad' instead of as 'wife' or 'husband' signals that we now prioritize parenthood over marriage itself."
Based on this research, she postulates: "As men try to be better dads, they are running into the familiar difficulty of balancing kids, career and marriage--a problem that women have been trying to manage since the 1970s. With men as with women, it is marriage itself that often gets short shrift."
Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman finds himself this week right in the middle of the dilemma. His wide is scheduled to deliver their second child on Monday following the game with the Houston Texans, but he has made it clear to his team and to team management that he will be with his wife when she delivers the baby, whether it is Sunday during the game or not.
Gary Varvel is the editorial cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star and took the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to prepare a cartoon-based series of statistics about children who grow up without a father in the home. I loved his approach to reminding us of the importance of having a dad at home. While the stats are serious dealing with issues like teen pregnancy, childhood obesity, poverty, and crime and incarceration, the drawings are clever but still add a real face to these very stark statistics.