Less is More

We may become overwhelmed by our family responsibilities and job expectations. Recall the adage that less is more, and prioritise your main role, in which you cannot be replaced.

“You can’t have it all,” used to be a saying to describe women juggling careers and motherhood. Mothers are caught in the conundrum of trying to be present for their children while having a successful career, all at the same time. It is very hard.

Anne Marie Slaughter, a Princeton University Professor, who got her dream job in the government in Washington DC, realised she could not “have it all”.

So she wrote an article called, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. Anne Marie’s article is searingly honest and revealing. Her video interview about her story is also very good.

It is not just women who can’t have it all. Dads are the same. We have to make a decision on what we are going to have, and what we are not going to have, and sometimes less is more.

Harmony

Jason from Dad University gives us some great insight into the need, not for Work-Life Balance, but Work-Life harmony.

My son’s wife is struggling with recovery from post-natal depression.

Twelve months ago she was going really well, but when she had a relapse, my son had to make some adjustments in his priorities, because less is more.

My son is an engineer, and his company is very family-friendly. They allowed him to start late every day so he can run his children to school and in exchange, he loses his rostered day off. He can’t go surfing that day, but less is more, and better still, his wife is happier and getting better by the day.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a very successful businessman who gives some very good tips about work-life harmony here:

Recently, I came across the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium and its monthly newsletter. In it, I found a great article called “Take it easy on yourself, Dad” by a father with a young baby juggling the challenge of being a father and successful in his work.

“As I write this, my little nine-month-old boy Jack is sound asleep, something that has been a rare occurrence in our household up until recently. I had been told by everyone to be prepared for the lack of sleep a baby brings to your life, however, being a shift worker gave me a sense of false confidence and I thought I would cruise through these sleepless nights with ease.

I was wrong! I was working 12hr days, studying, trying to be a good husband and father and it was slowly wearing me down. I found myself feeling really low and disappointed as I had a feeling, I wasn’t being the father I had imagined myself to be.

Even though our wives and partners often bear most of the workload with raising children, I felt a lot of pressure as a dad to be this superhero-type figure that doesn’t waver under pressure and will always be a solid rock that the family can rely on. 

My wife is amazing and seems to have an endless abundance of energy. She has handled the sleepless nights much better than I. It took some honest conversations with her and a hard look at myself to realise I was running myself into the ground. This was counterproductive to being a good father.

It was then that I made the decision to take a step back from some of the areas of my life that were adding pressure and direct more of my focus to being present with my son. That small change had a huge positive effect for myself and my family. I have realised through having our son that I can’t do everything all at once and it is ok to ask for help, take a step back and sometimes less is more.

I have found success in parenting my son through not being so hard on myself and trying every day to just enjoy the little moments I get with him. I can be the rock my wife and son need, but I’m only capable of being that if I don’t take on too much work and added pressure. 

After all, my first and most important job is being a father.”

Lovework

You cannot have it all. Something has to take precedence. The key thing is to work out what is important to you as a father, and as a man with a vocation, because less is more.

Yours for the Important Things,
Warwick Marsh

PS: A massive thank you to all those who donated to our end-of-year Dads4Kids matching challenge. The stupendous news is: we met the target! The really good news is that your giving is going to enable us to help many more dads be better dads and put a smile on many more children’s faces.

Together we are making a difference! You can still donate today if you want to. Just that you will have to wait for a while for a tax deduction. Donate here!

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

Thank the Source

Dads4Kids Celebrating 20 Years Helping Our Children Thrive

Dads4Kids Celebrating 20 Years Helping Our Children Thrive

Dads4Kids has been on a mission to turn the toxic tide of fatherlessness throughout Australia and even the world. With your help, we can continue building up better fathers, who will lay the foundations for their families to flourish throughout their lives.

I have warm memories of my Dad telling my brother and me stories, each night before we went to sleep. Stories of adventures in faraway lands, strange encounters with tigers and black panthers in the wild jungle.

True life snake stories (my favourite) and stories about stockmen and horses in the Australian outback. These stories were always riveting and greatly encouraging.

Looking back, I realise that the reason they were ‘warm’ and ‘greatly encouraging’ was because it was a real live Dad, who loved his children and who was giving his children his undivided attention through telling stories.

It left a long, warm glow on the inside of me, and the comfort to go to sleep and dream the beautiful dreams that every child deserves to dream.

Grief

Sadly, within a few years, my Mum and Dad went their separate ways for a time. I found out later that my Dad was heartbroken as a single father without access to ‘his boys’. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were heartbroken too.

Daddy Doesn't Live Here bookI didn’t realise how heartbroken I was until my early thirties when I randomly picked up a children’s book on a sale table in a shopping centre. My children were young and as a young dad, I was always looking for books to read to the children at night before sleep.

The book, Daddy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, caught my attention in the most unexpected way. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the pages. I knew the story well and the broken heart that went with the story.

Crucial Foundation

Last Thursday at the Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar, a single mother, Sarah Shannon, was asked, “Why are you such a strong supporter and regular donor to Dads4Kids?” My heart skipped a beat when she replied.

“I lost my Dad at the age of eleven. When he passed away my whole world went upside down. I know the importance of having a dad around. He was our solid rock. He was the love of my life. I looked up to him. He taught us many things. When he passed away heaven had gone and hell had come into my life, so I know the importance of having a loving, supportive Dad. The mission of Dads4Kids (to give our children the best start in life) is something I am 200% in support of.”

Our stories are not dissimilar. The pain of fatherlessness is expressed in many different ways. That’s why fatherless children are more likely to end up on drugs, to self-harm, be more prone to suicide, more likely be sexually abused, more likely to drop out of school, more likely to get involved in crime and end up in prison, and the list goes on.

The good news is that when we turn the tide of fatherlessness, our children get the best start in life. Children of involved fathers have a higher IQ, do better at school, enjoy better health, have better relational outcomes, have superior problem-solving skills, have higher levels of economic and career success, and all this is just the beginning.

On a Mission

Over the last 20 years, Dads4Kids has worked hard to turn the tide of fatherlessness in Australia. In 1998, our dear friend Pastor Ron Williams, Indigenous Elder and Leader, declared:

‘The greatest need in Australia is the restoration of fatherhood.’

This led Alison and me, with the support of our wonderful board, to found Dads4Kids in 2002.

Since then, over 21 million people have viewed our message of excellence in fathering found in the Dads4Kids Community Service Announcements as seen on television, inspiring men to be better fathers.

Over the last 20 years, Dads4Kids has equipped, encouraged and inspired millions of fathers through the web, social media and mainstream media. Through our new Dads4Kids Inside-Out Fathering Program, we will support Indigenous and other incarcerated dads within the Australian prison system.

The Dads4Kids weekly email newsletter, inspiring fathers and encouraging families, has been sent out over 3 million times since 2002. Beginning in 2004, the Dads4Kids 10-Week Good to Great Fathering Program has trained over 420 men in excellence in fathering.

In 2007, Dads4Kids helped pioneer a National Men’s Health Policy in the federal government. Through our efforts, the lives of over 3,000 men have been saved. With your help, Dads4Kids has campaigned, and will continue to campaign, against child sexual abuse and to protect women and children from sexual exploitation.

Global Reach

Dads4Kids is the main global supporter for International Men’s Day on November 19 every year. Worldwide, we have campaigned strongly for improvement in men’s health and a reduction in the global male suicide epidemic. Dads4Kids has helped save tens of thousands of men’s lives worldwide over the past 14 years. With your help, we will save the lives of hundreds of thousands more men in the years to come.

Through Dads4Kids Courageous Online Fathering Courses, Dads4Kids Fatherhood Success Seminars, and the annual Dads4Kids Men’s Leadership Summit, we have helped thousands to become better dads, and trained hundreds of dads in how to train others.

In short, the Dads4Kids mission can be spelled out in three words: “Help people love.” Love is the Greatest Force in the Universe.

We could not do all these things without you, our amazing Dads4Kids supporters, subscribers, volunteers and donors. We look forward to 20 more years of transforming Australia, and the world, by inspiring fathers to help their children be the best they can be. Together, we can make a difference.

Lovework

We announced at the Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar that strategic supporters of Dads4Kids have put up an amazing $87,000 matching challenge!

Your one-time gift, or the annualized amount of your monthly pledge to Dads4Kids, given before the 30 June, will be instantly doubled. The really good news is that this is a great way to reduce your tax!

Every donation is tax-deductible!

[GIVE HERE]

Yours for Our Children,
Warwick Marsh

PS: Last Thursday’s Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar was very real, raw and yet deeply moving. If you have not yet seen it, check it out here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk.

Thank the Source

‘Fatherhood’: Touching, Hilarious Film About a Single Dad

Two Kisses for Maddy fatherhood book“Fatherhood” is a heartwarming and humorous film about a single dad doing his best to be a good parent to his daughter. Between the laughs, there are nuggets of wisdom about the parenting journey and the irreplaceable love and care of a father.

Recently on a flight — my first flight with my baby son — I was able to catch the 2021 comedy-drama Fatherhood, starring the irrepressible Kevin Hart of Jumanji fame. The film centres on single dad Matt Logelin, left alone with his baby daughter Maddy after Matt’s wife Liz unexpectedly dies following childbirth. It is based on a true story by the real Matt Logelin, published under the title Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love.

Matt’s mother-in-law Marion hovers around after Liz’s funeral, not trusting that Matt can actually look after her granddaughter. “What would I look like goin’ home before I know that you are capable of taking care of my newborn grandchild?” she asks.

Exasperated, Matt retorts: “How are you ever gonna know if you don’t let me do it?”

Community is Key

The story unfolds with Matt succeeding against all odds at being a single dad as well as the sole breadwinner. His buddies rally around to support him, despite their own lack of childrearing experience, and provide the friendship (and levity) that he needs to get through as he tackles cot-building, nappy-changing, and baby-soothing.

Unable to get the baby to sleep, Matt barges in on a parents’ group full of mothers and begs for advice. Armed with new pearls of wisdom (white noise!), Matt finally manages a good night’s sleep with the aid of the vacuum cleaner. He brings the baby to work, and along comes the vacuum too…

A work presentation turns topsy-turvy when the baby started wailing in the distance, but the clients, who happen to be parents as well, all chime in with their parenting tips. His boss Howard contemplates firing him: “This is a place of business, right? It’s not a place of babies.” Thankfully, Matt manages to keep his job and impress the clients.

Dads are Vital

In a vulnerable moment, Matt sighs, “You know Maddy, if you could have only one parent, I wish you could’ve had your mom.” Indeed, childrearing often comes more easily to mothers, and fathers can feel like a spare tyre at times, particularly during the early years — especially if the child is mainly breastfed.

However, research shows that the more hands-on a father is during his child’s infancy, the higher the child’s IQ and eventual chance of success in life.

Lacking a dad of his own, Matt turns to his father-in-law, Mike, for parenting advice. “Welcome to not knowing the right thing to do. That’s a dad speciality,” quips Mike. He is a friendly mentor for Mike, encouraging him through the tough times.

Precious

Marion turns up uninvited for the baby’s first medical appointment, which the child thankfully passes with flying colours. “Matthew, today was a good day for you as a parent. You keep all these little victories like you had today in a little box inside you. They’ll be your most prized possessions,” she tells him.

The movie depicts how Matt and Maddy develop as a father and a daughter, through her first years in school, navigating dress codes and dealing with bullies. They also have to adjust to new dynamics when Matt’s colleague introduces him to a lady to whom he takes a fancy.

Parenting is a challenging journey. At the same time, it is very rewarding and full of fun. Fatherhood portrays this wonderful mix of emotions and the personal growth of the main characters, with the single dad learning how to tend to his daughter’s needs and realising that, although his parents-in-law may be able to provide a good home for his daughter, they can’t quite replace him.

The film is full of poignant moments and well-timed hilarity. Available on Netflix, it makes for a good show for parents to laugh over together. Unfortunately, with several instances of swearing and some politically correct plot points (Maddy’s Catholic school is portrayed as archaic for insisting that all girls dress in the appropriate attire, and Matt makes some passing comments supporting transgender ideology), it is probably not advisable for younger children to watch.

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First published at Dads4Kids.

Thank the Source

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

The moving story in “Top Gun: Maverick” of a fatherless son’s journey toward healing is proving popular with audiences worldwide. This is a film highlighting the importance of fatherhood, portraying a tale of reconciliation and redemption.

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing box offices, and it’s easy to understand why.

The film is spectacularly outpacing its weak-because-they’re-woke counterparts, because the film’s unapologetic dad themes resonate.

Alongside the gutsy F-18 camera shots, audiences are in love with the Tom Cruise/Joseph Kosinski sequel because its father-son backstory hits home.

Even the, “it’s all flag-waving, MAGA propagandist tripe” critics are applauding the sequel for keeping to the consistency of the first film’s deep relational backbone.

As The Atlantic’s David Sims explained, the film’s ‘emotional weight rests on Pete Mitchell (Maverick) fighting to earn the respect of Goose’s son (Rooster), who blames Maverick for the tragic loss of his father.’

Childhood Memory

For me, Top Gun: Maverick cut deeper.

My family and I recently saw the film for a birthday bash. The only thing missing was my dad.

Watching the first Top Gun at the cinema with my dad was to be one of the only long-lasting positive memories I would have of him.

It was 1986, I was 9, and we’d turned up late to the cinema.

Missing the iconic afterburner intro of the first Top Gun, dad and I slid into our seats in rhythm with Tony Scott’s smooth golden orange sunset, shot high above a lone F-14 landing on the silhouette of the USS Enterprise.

It became a shared interest, a mutual pursuit, a common bond solely shared between father and son.

From the soundtrack, which always seemed to be on repeat in our broken-down housing commission home, to the old-school Amstrad computer game, the movie connected us.

This was true, right up until my dad’s final week, when, knowing he would never get a chance to wear it, I gifted him a T-shirt with the Top Gun logo on it.

Now covered in dust, I still hold onto the volumes of Warplane magazines he’d chosen to buy me, instead of paying “through the teeth” for participation in a weekend sport.

Healing

I related to the second film because of the first.

Similar to ‘Goose’s’ son in the film, I was confronted by what was lost, what might have been, and what my dad chose to abandon somewhere along the way.

The sequel made the memories all the more material when Val Kilmer (Iceman), tells Maverick — still haunted by the death of ‘Goose’ — “It’s time to let go.”

Seeing the first film at the cinema in 1986 with my dad was an oasis event, an anomaly of normalcy in a wasteland of ash.

This explains why, in almost every scene of Top Gun: Maverick, I heard, and felt my dad’s absence, and choked up at Hans Zimmer’s rendition of Faltermeyer’s iconic Top Gun anthem.

We’re taught in The Good Book to raise up thanksgiving in the face of suffering. Even the smallest object or event that is worthy of our gratitude puts points on the board when it comes to healing trauma.

In retrospect, watching Top Gun with my dad in ’86 was the first, and only time he offered me a healthy introduction to manhood.

His wasn’t perfect, but that was a perfect day. That day my dad did good, and for that I thank him.

For me, the only thing missing from Top Gun: Maverick was the man who took me to see the first one, sitting, at his best, beside me and my uber-impressed family.

Top Gun was, and is, about loss, grief, and recovery; fatherhood, and fatherlessness — as much as it is about courage, defiance, and the determination to overcome obstructions encountered along the way.

The sequel builds on its original father-son backstory. It is “dad cinema” at its very best.

To lean on Miles Surrey’s review in The Ringer,

‘Every single dad — past, present, and those who are expecting to be dads in the near future — should check out Maverick, if not for the sanctity of ensuring Dad Cinema doesn’t fade away, then for experiencing a blockbuster that surpasses its predecessor in every respect.’

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First published at Dads4Kids.

Thank the Source

Relationships Matter: Keys to Be a Good Father and Build a Good Marriage

In the face of possible death, a husband and father realised that his family mattered far more than his business. With a new lease of life, he embarked on prioritising his relationships. Dads4Kids invites you to do the same.

Harvey MacKay said, “The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.” MacKay knows a thing or two.

Harvey is a very successful businessman, married for over 50 years to his architect wife, with three children and eleven grandchildren. Harvey MacKay has sold over 10 million books about business and building a successful life.

Interviewing Steve Smith for the Dads4Kids podcast reminded me a lot of Harvey MacKay. Steve is an intentional father of four, husband and businessman. MacKay once said, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Priorities

Steve Smith is the inspirational planner who puts his close relationships at the top of the list; his business always comes second — and he is all the happier for it. Watch his story below.

In 1991, when Steve was only 25 years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia and given six weeks to live. Miraculously, he survived. In his own words, he said, “I am a tough bugger.”

This proved to be the defining moment in his life. He realised that people, not possessions, were his most valuable assets. You can’t possess people, but you can build mutually caring, loving relationships with them and in so doing, build a wealth that money can’t buy.

This is the core message of my wide-ranging interview with Steve Smith, and it comes through in every aspect of his life and his story:

“Relationships are the greatest treasure.”

Lessons During Loss

In this podcast, I share my own ‘dark night of the soul’ with Steve Smith. In 1984, I lost everything in a business collapse. Whilst it was humiliating, it was also invigorating and taught me the same lesson that Steve learnt.

In life, relationships are everything. Yes, you have to eat and live somewhere, but your relationships and the integrity you need to keep them, matter more than anything else.

I asked Steve for his best tip on having a successful relationship with his wife.

Steve told me,

“Warwick, I did not know how to love my own wife because I never had any good examples. My own mother and father got divorced when I was 26 years old. Thankfully I started to hang around married couples who had good relationships and were actively working on them. I watched them closely and I started to emulate their good points and my marriage got better.

“One of the major turning points for me was learning my wife’s love language. The big one for her was affectionate touch, but I had to learn this, Warwick, and it took me a while.”

“So, what are your wife’s five love languages in order of importance?” I asked.

“Affectionate touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and much to my dismay, receiving gifts is last. That’s why you have to know what is at the top of the list and what is at the bottom. Harvey MacKay was right to say, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.”

“What else has helped you to be a better dad and husband over the years?”

“Warwick, your weekly newsletter has helped me enormously. I have reprinted articles and read and reread them. It was through your newsletter that I got introduced to Darren Lewis at ‘Fathering Adventures’.

“All four of my children have done the younger and the older adventures. My youngest, who has just turned 16, was on to me asking me when we are going to do the final father and teenage son adventure of a lifetime. It is a good thing to be pestered about.”

I asked Steve what his top three tips are for Dads:

  1. Intentional time with your children.
  2. Live by the example you want them to follow. (The words of Mahatma Gandhi come to mind, “You must become the change you seek.”)
  3. Let your children know they are loved — TELL THEM OFTEN.

Lovework

Wow! Steve Smith is a hard act to follow, but let’s see what we can learn from him and put it into practice this week. Now that’s a challenge! If you have a question for Steve Smith, register for this coming Thursday night’s Dads4Kids Breakthrough Webinar. He will be one of our guests.

Yours for relationships that truly matter,
Warwick Marsh

PS: This week has been a big week. The booking information for the Men’s Leadership Summit has been released. Download the brochure here. Watch the promo video here.

PPS: We also opened the registration process for the ‘Dads4kids Breakthrough Webinar’ for next Thursday PM. Australian boxing champion Gavin Topp is one of the featured guests talking about manhood.

Watch the promo video here or below.

Register here.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Jonathan Borba.

Thank the Source

Leading from the Heart

Leading from the Heart

Kevin Allen was a pretty committed father before he did the ‘Good to Great’ Fathering Course. When he completed the course in 2019, he went through a supercharging process in his fathering.

I can remember talking with Kevin shortly after he finished the course. He told me at the time that his business bottom line had improved markedly. More importantly, his relationships with his three young children had changed completely for the better.

Kevin also told me that his marriage needed more work. True to his word, within 18 months his marriage had turned around for the better as well. Watch the Dads4Kids video podcast below.

Within 12 months of completing the Good to Great Fathering Course, Kevin took his daughter on a father-child campout. This is what she had to say to her dad afterwards:

“Dad, you are the best person I’ve met in my life. Thank you for one of the best experiences of my entire life. I love how you always encourage and support me. I’m so sorry if I’ve ever said anything to you that has made you feel bad. Sometimes I just don’t know what I’m saying, and I really wish you would understand it, which you probably do because you’re a psychologist (you probably just don’t know it yet). I’ll love to do anything with you again!!
I hope there’s always going to be something we can do together. I also love how much effort you put into trying to be a better dad. You’ll always be the best person in my life but as well as mum. Night xx
😊🥺🦋💖”

Money cannot buy this sort of beautiful affirmation.

It took a lot of effort to create such change. Notice that his daughter’s reference to the fact that Kevin had done the course, but was still engaged in the journey of improving himself. “I also love how much effort you put into trying to be a better Dad!” Children notice these things and it makes all the difference.

When I asked Kevin in my interview what the key was to such massive change, he gave a very profound but simple answer:

“I changed from making decisions in my head to making decisions from my heart for my family.”

Interestingly, nowhere in the Good to Great Course are those words expressed verbatim.

Kevin continued,

You see Warwick, I had modelled myself when I was working as a store manager at Woolworths on the successful people above me who were making decisions with their heads. They were working ridiculous hours to get ahead. I was doing exactly the same thing and destroying my family in the process. I had changed occupations but had not changed my attitude.”

“The Good to Great Course helped me recalibrate my thinking and I started to make decisions from my heart or leading from the heart as I like to say. It changed my bottom line in business. It changed my relationship with my children, and it ultimately changed my marriage.”

Kevin Allen in Dune Buggy Deserts WA

“This recalibration of my decision-making led me to take my ten-year-old son on the Dacca Tour, in the Great Victorian Desert, outback Western Australia, in a custom-made dune buggy.  We had about a dozen guys on dirt bikes, so we came up behind while they went on ahead. As a father and son, we had the time of our lives. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

It gives me great joy as the cofounder of Dads4Kids to know that men are making quality, life-changing decisions from the heart. My wife and I are just catalysts for the process. The good news is that once it starts, it doesn’t stop.

It reminds me of a very old saying in the book of proverbs:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Lovework

Start dreaming about your family’s life. As you do, contemplate your direction and the decisions you must make. Follow Kevin’s example and make those decisions from your heart. I promise you: you will never look back.

Yours for Leading from the Heart,
Warwick Marsh

We can confirm that Gavin Topp, author of Man Alive, is coming to the Men’s Leadership Summit, 26-28 August 2022. Darren Lewis from Fathering Adventures is confirmed as well. SAVE THE DATE NOW! Full release this week!

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First published at Dads4Kids.

Thank the Source

Father Stu: Marvellous Movie with a Fatherhood Theme

Father Stu: Marvellous Movie with a Fatherhood Theme

“Father Stu” is not a movie for the fainthearted, but with the true story of a man who overcame his trauma and his failures to become a solid spiritual father, it has an inspiring message for us all.

I go to movie theatres these days in fear and trembling. I just don’t know if I am going to like what I see. Sometimes it is like buying a ticket in a lottery that you know you are going to lose.

On one of our twice-weekly date nights, my wife suggested we go and see Father Stu. The fact that it was based on a true story encouraged me.

She had seen a great review in Movies Change People. I was not convinced, but I have become a true believer.

Father Stu certainly had a star-studded cast including Transformers star Mark Wahlberg, Passion of the Christ producer/actor Mel Gibson and Australia’s own Jacki Weaver.

Let me add one caveat. The language is very strong. If you have worked in the mining or building industry as I have, it will not be anything new to you. All around, it is a strong movie and not for the fainthearted.

Strong Hope

It is a movie about manhood and faith, with the underlying theme of fatherhood gone wrong and fatherhood gone right. Thankfully, there is hope for us all. Watch the trailer here.

The reactions from pre-screening by the Movies Change People team in Australia were amazing. Of the people who saw it, 92% of them said they would recommend it to a friend

“Amazing true story, well worth seeing.”

“RAW AMAZING WORTH SPREADING.”

“It’s a powerful, inspiring story that brought tears to my eyes.”

Powerful Story

Having seen Father Stu, I would say the same. Sadly, reviewers dismissed the movie in a predictably pathetic fashion. I searched high and low for an honest assessment of the film. Ron Cerabona from the Canberra times hit the middle ground with his 3-star review below.

“Cards on the table: I’m not a believer in any religion. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a well-done religious movie. I don’t play or enjoy watching sports, either, but there are good sports films.

Mark Wahlberg, who stars and produces, and Mel Gibson — who plays a major role and whose partner Rosalind Ross is credited as writer and director — are both devout Catholics with troubled pasts. It’s not surprising, then, that they would team up for a religious-themed biopic about a man who overcame many challenges — some his fault, some not — to become a priest.

Stuart Long (Wahlberg) hasn’t had much of a life in Helena, Montana. He and his mother Kathleen (Jacki Weaver) are estranged from his abusive, alcoholic father Bill (Gibson) – the couple split after Stu’s younger brother died as a child – and he’s a self-centred, foul-mouthed delinquent and a not very successful amateur boxer still fighting at an age where most men are retiring from the ring.

When medical issues prevent him from continuing to box, he decides to go to Hollywood to become an actor.

Kathleen opposes this, but Stu is a stubborn man, and off he goes.

He’s not very successful in Hollywood, either. One man offers help in exchange for sexual favours (hotly refused) but mostly Stu is stuck working in a supermarket.

One bright spot comes when he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz) and is instantly smitten.

Not only is Carmen wary of this stranger’s sudden infatuation but she’s a pious Catholic, a Sunday-School teacher not interested in a fling.

To win her over, nonbeliever Stu starts going to church and gets baptised…

Then comes a major life change. Stu is badly injured in a motorcycle accident that a stranger seemed to predict…

In fact, we see Stu’s plain-speaking sincerity can make connections where other, ostensibly more suitable candidates — like the patronising Jacob (Cody Fern) — cannot. But then there’s another test for Stu: he is diagnosed with a rare muscular disease and the prognosis is dire.

Although Ross has the onscreen credits for writing and directing, Gibson’s influence seems to loom large beyond his onscreen presence as a damaged man who finds a way to reconnect with both his (somewhat similar) son and his spirituality.

Gibson’s films as director often lay on the suffering — think The Passion of the Christ — and that’s a big part of this story. Stu’s physical, spiritual, and emotional pain are heavily emphasised…

As so often liberties have been taken with the truth for reasons of time and dramatic effect — for example, Bill is apparently depicted far more harshly than he really was, and Stu’s mother encouraged his Hollywood ambitions (presumably in real life she didn’t refer to Los Angeles as being “full of fascist hippies”). And Stu’s path to the priesthood was much longer.

During the end credits, there’s footage, photos and words from the real Father Stu — who died in 2014 at the age of 50 — and a cute if incongruous moment with Wahlberg and a child.

Father Stu is sincere and well-acted with some touching moments. It’s not perfect but better than many other movies about religion, even if, like me, you don’t subscribe to the theology or find the rationalisations for suffering very credible.”

Lovework

Father Stu is really a man’s movie and his struggle to become a man in the absence of a loving father.

The good news is love triumphs in the end, as it always does. Grab a few mates and go and see it if you are able. You won’t be disappointed.

Yours for the Power of Love,
Warwick Marsh

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First published at Dads4Kids. Image: The Sun.

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Science of Dad and the ‘Father Effect’

Science of Dad and the ‘Father Effect’

When you analyse the social science about the importance of dads, it is unequivocal. Dads are vitally important to their children’s success in a myriad of ways.

As George Herbert said, “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” This is not speculation — it is reality.

Joshua A Krisch puts the case well for this in an article titled “The Science of Dad and the ‘Father Effect’“. The subtitle says it all: “There are data-driven reasons why kids do better with a father figure in their lives.” The article is 2600 words long, so I have abbreviated it heavily. Read the full article here.

There’s no question that parenting styles impact a kid’s well-being long into the future. No pressure! But it’s often motherhood, rather than fatherhood, that dominates parenting studies. This leaves the question of how to be a good dad somewhat in the shadows.

So far, we know that kids who grow up with a present, engaged dad are less likely to drop out of school or wind up in jail, compared to children with absent fathers and no other male caretakers or role models.

When children have close relationships with father figures, they tend to avoid high-risk behaviours, and they’re less likely to have sex at a young age. They’re more likely to have high-paying jobs and healthy, stable relationships when they grow up. They also tend to have higher IQ test scores by the age of 3 and endure fewer psychological problems throughout their lives when dads take the role of a father seriously. Altogether, these benefits of having an engaged dad are called the “father effect.”

“When fathers are actively involved with their children, children do better,” says Paul Amato, PhD, a sociologist who studies parent-child relationships at Pennsylvania State University. “Research suggests that fathers are important for a child’s development.”

To a man holding his baby, this may seem like a given. But strange as it may sound, fatherhood is an emerging field of study. Scientists are making up for lost time by finally releasing conclusive data about a father’s effect on his children. Almost daily, academic journals are publishing new data that illustrates how men can both help and hurt their children, and how to be a better dad…

The “father effect” is the umbrella term for the benefits of a paternal presence. Of course, a father’s active participation in the family is always preferable. “There needs to be a minimum amount of time spent together, but the quality of time is more important than the quantity of time,” Amato says. “Just watching television together, for example, isn’t going to help much.”

Fatherhood Starts with Sperm

Fathers are more than just sperm donors, but the DNA sperm carries is important. There is perhaps no greater and more universal father effect than genetic information…

Studies suggest that men who binge drink before conception are more likely to have kids with congenital heart diseases and who abuse alcohol.

Poor dietary choices in men can lead to negative pregnancy outcomes. At least one study suggests that men who are stressed before conception may predispose their offspring to high blood sugar.

“We know the nutritional, hormonal, and psychological environment provided by the mother permanently alters organ structure, cellular response, and gene expression in her offspring,” cellular biologist Joanna Kitlinska, PhD, of Georgetown University, who ran a study on the subject in 2016, said in a statement. “But our study shows the same thing to be true with fathers — his lifestyle, and how old he is, can be reflected in molecules that control gene function.”

Good Dads Are Incubated

Whether early attachment to a baby breeds more serious involvement in the long-term is a matter of debate, but there’s plenty of evidence that it does. In a 2011 literature review on paternal involvement during pregnancy and labour, the authors claim that dads who are actively involved and invested in the baby before they’re born disproportionately remain involved in the child’s life.

And, as numerous studies have shown, more paternal involvement means better outcomes for kids. To foster this connection, some scientists have argued that healthy women and newborns should return home as soon as possible after delivery, especially if the father is not allowed to stay overnight in the hospital.

Good Dads and Engaged Father Figures

Being around is one thing; being engaged is another. “The quantity of interaction doesn’t really benefit kids. But if you have more high-quality, engaged parenting that does seem to be positively related to outcomes for children,” Carlson says. Warmth is also a key factor. Fathers who spend a lot of time with their kids but are dismissive or insulting tend to have only negative impacts.

“Low-quality fathering can involve behaving coldly toward one’s children,” says Danielle DelPriore, PhD, a developmental psychologist at the University of Utah. “Insulting them, or engaging in problem behaviours are largely incompatible with being a present and engaged father.”

What Is a Good Father to an Infant and Toddler?

One 1991 study found that infants attained higher cognitive scores at age 1 if their fathers were involved in their lives when they were 1 month old. Preterm infants similarly score higher at 36 months if their dads play an active role from birth. A separate study found that infants who played with their dads at 9 months enjoyed similar benefits.father effect

What Is a Good Dad to a Daughter?

Most studies suggest that, until children hit puberty, the father effect is roughly equal for boys and girls. Both boys and girls who are fortunate enough to have dads in their lives excel and, in some cases, outperform their peers. But when hormones kick in, studies demonstrate that dads suddenly become the arbiters of their children’s sexual behaviour too. This is most acutely felt by teenage daughters, who take fewer sexual risks if they have strong relationships with their dads.

“Numerous past studies find a link between low-quality fathering and daughters’ sexual outcomes, including early and risky sexual behaviour,” says DelPriore, who has studied how dads impact risky sex. “A father who is cold or disengaged may change daughters’ social environments and sexual psychology in ways that promote unrestricted sexual behaviour.”

Read the full article here.

Lovework

Wow! I have been studying the world of science behind the importance of fathers and even I learnt some things I didn’t know. I am sure you will be encouraged.

Lovework this week is to read the whole article above and put the section about being a good dad into practice. I am still working on it, and I fail regularly but I am not giving up.

Yours for being a Good Dad,
Warwick Marsh

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Gustavo Fring.

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