Thursday Roland Warren from the National Fatherhood Initiative shared heart-felt and feet-to-the-ground advice and vision for professionals serving today's young families. "Through Roland's leadership, the [National Fatherhood Initiative] has quickly become the most-quoted authority on fatherhood and the nation's #1 provider of fatherhood resources to communities, schools, prisons, hospitals, businesses, the military, and communities of faith" (Huffington Post).
Like all great speakers, Roland shares personally from his life. He describes growing up without a father and becoming a child with "a hole in my heart in the shape of a father." With great warmth, humor and insight he tells story after story of the years he spent evolving into the role of an effective dad.
The audience laughs when he described "standing in the corner" awaiting the birth of his child. "And, then someone put the baby is my hands as if I would know what to do next." Next, he offers a story of coming home one snowy day with his wife and baby. After helping his wife to the house, he returned to carry his baby over treacherous terrain to the safety of home. But, with a twinkle in his eye and frequent use of his refrain, "I'm just saying . . .," Roland describes hitting the black ice and setting sail, baby in his arms, into the air. Time, of course, slowed down at this moment, as his life passed before his eyes. As he headed south toward the hard earth, he heard the wisdom of years of football coaching offering the only fathering skill set he then possessed: "Don't fumble the baby!" -- and he didn't!
Roland was quick to remind an audience of over 800 women that men need a different kind of education than most women want. "Don't tell me how to FEEL about being a dad, just tell me what TO DO!" Many men are accustomed to the teaching style of a good coach. "Hold it here, turn it slowly, watch for a twitch, listen for a change in breathing." Skills -- that's what dads want.
I was delighted to hear Roland's call for skill-building, for this is exactly what HUG Your Baby offers parents. The HUG DVD is rich with images of dads and moms, from numerous cultures, learning to understand the secret language of their newborns --and to gain the skills they need to be successful parents. Dads who are taught The HUG learn techniques for calming a fussy baby, identifying sleep cycles, responding to an over-stimulated newborn, and positioning a baby for interacting and playing. Before long, a dad and his child will be playing ball together. Exposed to HUG coaching, a dad who has succeeded in not "fumbling the baby!" can hang on, and soon score a touchdown as a new parent!