Everyday Heroes: It’s an Honor to Be a Good Father (and Father Figure)

 

Leading up to Father’s Day, we’re honoring everyday heroes—real dads who are great examples of Championship Fathering. This week’s example is an amazing story that demonstrates fatherhood at its very best…

It starts with a boy named Gage, whose biological father left when he was very young. Gage rarely saw his dad and was often left waiting for him to show up.

Gage’s mom had a close friend from college who had three children of her own, and who was married to an everyday hero named Ivan. The two families occasionally spent time together, so Gage and Ivan got to know each other.

As Gage grew older, like many fatherless kids he started thinking about what he was missing. So, at age five, with his mother’s encouragement, Gage approached Ivan one day and asked him, “Will you be my father?

Ivan responded, “I would be honored to.”

I suspect that Ivan was caught a little bit off guard, but when he said “Yes” to that young boy’s request, he meant it. Gage graduated from high school this year, and Ivan has truly been his dad for all those years.

Even though he was plenty busy with three other children, Ivan managed to attend Gage’s little league games, choir performances and spelling bees, even if it meant taking off work. He invited him to come on family outings and vacations. Ivan has taught him about manhood—accepting responsibility, being honest, sincere and trustworthy.

Even though they are of different races, Ivan will often introduce Gage as his son, and he doesn’t care who hears it. Gage says that really makes him feel special.

Dad, I hope Ivan’s story inspires you like it inspires me. There are all kinds of lessons we can take away from Ivan’s example. Of course, it starts by giving your best to your own children. Then, I hope you’ll take action as an everyday hero for other kids around you who need your fatherly influence.

It’s a huge thing when you tell a child, “I’m honored to be your father.” It’s important for two reasons:

First, it reminds you of your responsibility to love them, serve them, and sacrifice for them. It creates a sense of duty. You’ll find the strength to play catch with your son after a 10-hour day, or stick it out when your teenager is suddenly hard to love. You’ll always be there for them, because that’s what fathers do. And telling them

Second, kids need to hear and see your pride and commitment. When you affirm and claim children through spoken words, written words, actions, and prayers, you’re giving them a confidence and a strong sense of belonging that will help them as they mature.

This Father’s Day, renew your commitment to love your children, coach them, and be a great model of character for them. Then step forward and encourage another child who may need you. Chances are, it probably won’t involve the kind of commitment and sacrifice that Ivan has made … but it might! Don’t let that stop you. I feel confident that, just like Ivan, you won’t regret it.

Does Ivan inspire you, too? Or are you doing something similar with another child? Please tell us about it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Everyday Heroes:

  • The next time your child asks you to do something for him or her (and it’s not an unreasonable request), respond by saying, “I’d be honored to.”
  • As you receive Father’s Day gifts this year, respond with something like, “Thank you. But it’s really a privilege just to be your dad.”
  • Whenever you introduce your child to others, do so with great pride: “This is my son.” “This is my daughter.”
  • We all know unfathered children—a neighbor, a family friend, a boy or girl at church or on our child’s team. Invite one to join your family in an activity or find some other way to encourage that child and be a fatherly influence.
  • Wherever you are, keep a watch out for children outside your family who may need a fatherly influence, and be willing to speak a word of encouragement, give a gentle challenge, teach a skill, or do other common father-actions.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

An Everyday Hero Helps Another Man Be a Great Dad

 

Let me tell you, I’ve got it rough. It takes me thirty minutes to commute to the office so I can inspire and equip more men to be Championship Fathers. Many days it takes even longer because of traffic! Don’t people know I have important places to be?

Well, you may know that leading up to Father’s Day we’re honoring some everyday heroes, and I have to tell you about one named James Maina, who might just have a rougher commute than me.

James is a native Kenyan and a master trainer for our programs. He was equipped by another trainer, Dave Clark, and now James uses our curricula to equip community leaders, pastors, YMCA leaders, prison officials, and men from refugee camps, who then spread the fatherhood message all over Africa.

James is a husband and father of three; he has a master’s degree in education, and for ten years he held a position equal to a school superintendent in his country. But he left that because he has a passion for fatherhood and saw the great need around him.

And let me tell you, there are huge challenges. It’s about five miles from his home to his office, and many days he walks. More than once, he’s been beaten up or robbed on the way. Some days he gets a ride in the back of a crowded van, but he basically does whatever it takes. He’s that sold out to spread the message; he knows it’s important.

So, whenever I’m driving in my air-conditioned SUV and start getting irritated because the world isn’t cooperating with my schedule, I think of James.

It’s so exciting for me to hear about everyday heroes like James who not only are good fathers, but also enlist other dads, because that’s how we’re going to win the battle for today’s children. One of the greatest challenges facing our country is father-absence, or fathers who for some reason choose not be involved in their children’s lives. Statistically, it negatively impacts many of the markers about the well-being of children.

So one of the ways you can leave a legacy beyond your own family and make a difference in our nation is to engage other fathers, whether they are disengaged from their kids or they simply need an encouraging word or an insight that might help them through a fathering challenge.

Now, dad, I hope I’m not disturbing your daily routine too much, but as an everyday hero yourself, are you considering ways you can help unleash responsible fathering where you are? Please think big!

Maybe challenge dads you know to make a Championship Fathering Commitment to their children. Maybe lead a small-group of dads. Or, bring our WATCH D.O.G.S. program to your children’s school as a way to encourage other dads to get more involved. Maybe you could be trained, like James, to lead other men. The point is, use the opportunities before you to reach out to other dads. There’s no better way to celebrate Father’s Day than to share some of the joys and blessings you feel as a father with other dads who may need your encouragement.

I know that many of you are actively involved in enlisting and equipping other dads. Please tell us about what you’re doing either in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

If we all get involved, positive change in our culture—and our world—can happen!

Action Points:

  • Ask yourself and another dad you know well, “What can we do to help strengthen fathers?” We have some ideas at www.fathers.com/getinvolved.
  • This weekend, participate in activities that your child suggests. Make sure you aren’t taking your opportunities as a father for granted.
  • Tell your children about James Maina or someone else you admire who makes great sacrifices to help others in some way.
  • Enlist other dads using social media. Like us on Facebook, then be active in sharing, commenting, and promoting what you see there. (You can also follow us on Twitter.)

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

 

Everyday Heroes: Good Dads Make a Difference for Other Kids

 

Kids are looking for heroes. Are you worthy of the title?

On this third week of honoring everyday heroes for Father’s Day, I have to mention WatchDOG dads—men who volunteer at their children’s schools to have fun and be positive role models. We know that a large percentage of dads reading each week’s email have volunteered as WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students).

I believe all dads are already heroes to their kids—or they could be. But WatchDOG dads take it to another level, and we’re hearing amazing stories from all over the country. Numerous WatchDOGS have won awards as fathers and as leaders, and their involvement in the program is often a prominent reason why. You can see many of those stories and videos here.

Now, what will a WatchDOG dad do at the school to make him a hero? Leap a tall building? Not quite. But he’ll walk around the school building to make sure everything is okay.

Will that T-shirt make him faster than a speeding bullet? No, but he’ll get to work with students on math problems or reading, and he will help them become faster and more proficient in those important areas.

Will the dad become more powerful than a locomotive? No. But more important than that, he will have a powerful positive influence on kids in the school—especially kids who don’t have a dad. So many kids need someone to talk to, or just need a good word from someone who cares.

It’s like WATCH D.O.G.S. founder Jim Moore says: “On the playground, you’re Michael Jordan! In the classroom, you’re Albert Einstein. In the hallways, you’re Superman!”

I would say you’re even better than that, and we’re hearing similar testimonies from people involved in the program. One principal wrote this:

The WATCH D.O.G.S. fill the school with a positive spirit that is contagious…. They patrol our hallway, engage students at recess, work with small groups, help with lunch supervision and enrich the lives of everyone. We’ve seen an increase in daily attendance, parent/community involvement and fewer discipline issues. These men are my heroes for seizing this opportunity.

And we get amazing stories from WatchDOG dads. One dad named Keith worked with a boy in first grade who already had a very troubled life. He said, “This kid and many more are the ones we need to be there for. After [talking to] that boy, I went to the school’s office and penciled in a date to be a WatchDOG again.”

As Chuck was helping in his son’s classroom, his son would proudly call him “Daddy” as they interacted. Another boy noticed and asked if that was his name. Apparently he didn’t know what the word meant. Chuck explained it, and then the boy asked if he could call Chuck “Daddy” also. Chuck said, “It broke my heart.”

As Mark walked the halls, helped in the lunch room and playground, dozens of kids ran up to give him a hug and tell him how cool he was for being in the school. Mark says, “I know I am far from cool, but you cannot imagine the amount of kids who have distant dads, no male role model in their lives, or just live in an environment of discouragement. Taking a workday out of the year to pour into these students may just change a life forever.”

That’s the difference you can make for kids at your neighborhood school!

So, for all WatchDOG dads, thank you. You truly are a “hero of the hallways,” as the slogan goes.

I believe all committed dads make a difference for their kids and other children they influence. So even if you aren’t involved in this program, I hope you’ll find ways to encourage a child who needs a daddy. Make Father’s Day a time to reach out and show more children what a Championship Father is like.

Do you have a similar story to from your day serving as a WatchDOG, or have you reached out to unfathered kids in other ways? Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Must-do Action Points:

  • Ask your child, “Who is your hero?” Find out why he admires that person.
  • Are you already a father figure to a fatherless child—as a coach, youth sponsor or neighbor? Write a note of affirmation and encouragement to him.
  • Talk with your family about another child who needs encouragement, and take your whole family to watch and cheer for him or her at a sports event, recital, performance, etc.
  • This Father’s Day, identify a father figure who was instrumental in your growth and make plans to honor him in a special way. (Even if you had a great dad and he’s still around to honor, too.)
  • Your involvement in your children’s education isn’t done when summer starts. Find ways to keep them thinking and growing. Pay them to read books that are good for them; take “field trips” to local points of interest that will expand their horizons; help them hone a skill that will be useful for them in the future. Please share your ideas below or on our Facebook page.

 

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

Everyday Heroes: Great Dads Shine in Tough Circumstances

 

Aimee Copeland is a 24-year-old from Georgia who’s in the news because of a rare flesh-eating disease which she contracted after cutting her leg in a zip-lining accident earlier this month. Despite losing her leg, both hands and her other foot, she has shown tremendous courage. Her story was all over the Internet for a few days.

My heart also goes out to her father, who is posting regular updates on his Facebook page. Andy Copeland wrote about his reaction when his daughter received the news from doctors about the necessary amputations. He wrote, “I wasn’t crying because Aimee was going to lose her hands and foot, I was crying because in all my 53 years of existence, I have never seen such a strong display of courage. I was crying because I am a proud father of an incredibly courageous young lady.”

During this second week of honoring everyday heroes as we look forward to Father’s Day, I have to mention dads like Andy who demonstrate the true heart of fatherhood. They face challenges that most of us can barely imagine, and yet they persevere and serve their families with selflessness and unwavering dedication.

That description also fits Rolf, another inspiring example of a father who continues to lead his family in the face of uncertainty. Rolf and his wife have four children, and he has a father’s heart for all of them. The older three are healthy and thriving and keeping them busy. The fourth one, Rudy, is thriving in his own way, but has a rare heart condition that continues to threaten his life. He wasn’t supposed to live as long as he has, so Rolf truly doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring for his son.

Each day, caring for Rudy involves many extra procedures he and his wife have had to learn, with regular trips to various specialists mixed in. It’s physically draining, a financial burden … and then when things slow down, there are emotional struggles I can’t claim to understand.

I can only imagine how it must feel to be willing to do anything for your child, even give up your own life, but surrender to the fact that ultimately his or her fate is out of your control.

Dads, the heart of fathering really comes out when you’re facing something difficult like this.

So as we look forward to Father’s Day, I want to honor Rolf and many other dads who are in a similar situation. Maybe you have a child with cancer or some other chronic illness. Maybe your child has special needs or a disability that makes life very difficult. Maybe your child’s challenges are emotional, or you’re walking the long journey of loving a “prodigal” child through a string of destructive decisions. Or maybe you’re a non-custodial dad, and your heartache is a result of not being able to see the children you love so much because of a divorce and related legal matters.

Sometimes Championship Fathering comes with a sense of helplessness—and I suppose all dads face some degree of uncertainty. But no matter what your situation, I want to encourage you today. Follow the examples of Rolf and other dads who persevere through fathering trials, and keep doing all you can for your children.

The test of a great dad is not in your area of comfort; it’s how you function when your child isn’t doing well—when crises hit or other “stuff” happens. It may seem overwhelming at times, but don’t lose heart.

Fatherhood is a high calling, and you’re up to it! Your family needs you to be courageous no matter what might come your way.

Please be encouraged by these Action Points.

● Remember, dad, your modeling is huge. Through all the ups and downs, your kids are watching you. So, maintain your poise and carry yourself with dignity through the challenges. Lead your family in a way that helps them come together and rely on each other.

● Do you know a family facing incredible challenges because of illness, a disability, or some other issue? Brainstorm with your children about ways you can help them, even for an afternoon or a day.

● Whenever you encounter some tragedy in the news or anywhere else, talk about it with your children and look for something good—people who helped, or ways people were challenged to grow.

● I believe anything worth its salt is going to be difficult, so don’t be surprised when life brings some challenges. Raising faithful and responsible kids is worth the heartache.

● How have you grown stronger, or what insights have you gained because of hard things you’ve gone through as a father? Share those insights with another dad you know—in person, in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

An Everyday Hero: Ralph Casey Showed Me How to Be a Good Dad

Carey with his Pop

It’s a month of “everyday heroes” here at fathers.com. During these weeks leading up to Father’s Day, I’ll be highlighting some fantastic dads who live out Championship Fathering. In doing so, I hope to honor all dads for their dedication, and I think you’ll be challenged and inspired by their examples.

I’ll start with the man who was the main hero in my life: my pop, Ralph Waldo Casey. I think about him just about every day, and I’m still hearing and thinking about many of the things he said to me, even though it’s been more than ten years since he died.

Even today, whenever a public figure says or does something crazy, or government officials talk about a new policy that could threaten something I hold dear, I think about my dad. Although I know what I believe (since he trained me well), I’d still like to hear his words.

I commented on this just last week, and one of our staff members caught it on video:

 

I still long for those summer days when we’d be sitting in the back yard, just hanging out, and he’d be coaching me about something important to him. He always seemed to have some wisdom to share regardless of the topic.

While I say that, understand that my pop didn’t go to college. He didn’t take us on extravagant vacations or pay for us to travel the world, and he didn’t teach me a foreign language or a musical instrument. He wasn’t a pastor or an expert in child psychology. He wasn’t famous. He worked a blue collar job for his whole life. My dad was common as the day was long.

But he was also a hero because of his faithfulness to his family and the way he invested in us. He was an everyday hero.

Dads, part of coaching our children in character and integrity is speaking truth into them—consistently, at the right time. Just like I still benefit from my dad’s wisdom, you can influence your children. Some of it can be spoken, and my pop did that a lot. But I encourage you also to write notes, messages, and even journals for your children.

Take truths and principles that are meaningful to you and pass them on to your children. Give them plenty to remember and think about even after you’re gone.

Here are a few more Action Points. Please share some ideas of your own below or at our Facebook page.

● My pop used to say, “It would break my heart if you ever used drugs.” Without lecturing your children, let them see that you’re passionate about the things you believe in.

● Pay special attention to your tone of voice when you talk to your children. Do all you can to stay positive, even when you’re correcting or confronting them.

● Teach your child a new skill appropriate for his or her age: cleaning floors, putting away dishes, mowing the lawn, balancing a checkbook, car maintenance, etc.

● Marriage has been in the news a lot the past few weeks. Make sure your children know where you stand on this and other important issues in the headlines.

● As you coach your children about life, be patient with them. Sometimes it takes a long time for your message to really sink in.

● Start a list of things you want your child to see, do, or learn before he leaves home. (Then start checking them off.) You can find plenty of ideas in the books here and here.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.