Dads, with Thiago Queiroz

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API knows many gems of local parenting support leaders. This Father’s Day, I’m excited to introduce you to Thiago Queiroz–a father who has been absolutely on fire for supporting parents in his native Brazil since his oldest of 4 children were born 8 years ago.

Many parents have been able to “meet” Thiago through his part in the American documentary, Dads. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Hollywood film director, Dads illustrates what she refers to as contemporary fatherhood, asking celebrities and everyday men what being father means to them. Premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival where it was named second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award for Documentaries, Dads released in 2020 on Apple TV+.

Thiago is passionate about supporting parents, but especially fathers. We congratulate him on his work in normalizing nurturing among fathers through his portrait on Dads. Let’s get to know Thiago a bit more:

Q: To begin, please share about your family:

A: I’m married to Anne, and we now have 3 kids: Dante (8 years old), Gael (6 years old), Maya (2 years old), and my wife is also pregnant again. The baby is called, Cora and she’s expected to be born by the end of the year.

I’ve been an API Leader for around 8 years here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Q: What brought you to API?

A: When my first son was born, I was feeling a bit lost, trying to understand how I could raise my child. My own parenting references were not of the attached kind, and the only thing I felt was that I wanted to do it differently with my child.

Related: Fatherly pushes for universal paid paternity leave, provides resource for U.S. dads

Also, for being a father in Brazil, I didn’t have any references of fathers who were actually involved in raising their kids, because our society only expects moms to really take care of their kids, while the dads are seen as unable to take care of a baby. That didn’t make any sense for me at that time (and still doesn’t), so I started researching different views on child rearing.

Gladly, I found API and getting to know [API’s 8 Principles of Parenting] was one of the best things that happened to me, because I started to understand how we can build strong emotional bonds with our children and more important: I understood how I, as a father, could do so many things with my baby toward a strong secure attachment.

Afterwards, I started helping API, so I translated its Principles into Portuguese and became a leader.

Q: So, how did you learn about the Dads film and come to be part of its cast?

A: Back in 2017, I received an email from the production team, which was interested in getting to know different dads around the world, for a new documentary on fatherhood they were going to work on. I honestly didn’t know much about the project itself, but since one of my missions is to advocate for responsible and attached fatherhood, I offered myself to help in any way I could.

I never heard from them again until mid-2018, when they sent me another email saying they really wanted to film my story and were going to fly a crew down to Brazil to film me and my family.

From that point on, everything was just too fast: They arrived one week later, because they were in a hurry to finish the documentary. There was only one story left to film, which was my story, because one of the stories they filmed (also from a Brazilian dad) didn’t actually work out and had to be removed from the film. So, yes, everything was just too fast!

Q: What was it like for your family to be included in Dads?

A: We’ve never participated in anything like that, so everything was new to us. The crew spent a whole weekend here with us, filming us and interviewing me and my wife. Even though we had a lot of people here, they were so professional we barely noticed them filming our daily routines.

So it was normal life for us, waking up Saturday, getting kids breakfast, taking care of our children, playing with them until I could put them in bed, so most of the time the crew was quietly shooting our normal activities.

I also host a fatherhood podcast with a couple friends (it’s called Tricô de Pais), so the crew filmed a recording session of my podcast, which was really nice, too.

On Sunday, they filmed a bit more of our routines and started the interviews with me and my wife, which was very funny because here only me and my wife speak English, not the kids, so they were really amazed in having all the different people with us, speaking a weird language.

It was an amazing experience!

I still didn’t know much about the project, because I only wanted to help promote an attached fatherhood. So only Sunday night, the producers showed me a bit about the documentary and only then I realized it was a huge thing – a film directed by Bryce Howard and with Will Smith on the casting. We were totally blown away with that and really happy to see how far the message of a more loving fatherhood could be spread.

Q: What are your thoughts about Dads as a film?

A: I think the film is extremely important in today’s society. We need to have more examples and role models for diverse and loving fatherhoods (yes, in plural!). Fatherhood is not a simple thing and being able to show the world how different men can care and love their children is not only important but urgent.

Q: What responses have you received from others who’ve viewed Dads?

A: The responses were amazing. I keep receiving messages from dads all over the world on my Instagram page (@paizinhovirgulaoficial), saying they learned a lot and also cried a lot watching my story on the film. It’s so important to have this feedback, because those similar experiences are exactly what connect us.

Related: Dads, talk about being a father

So having a mainstream documentary on fatherhood is a huge thing, especially when this documentary takes the subject very seriously, not portraying fathers as buffoons or mothers’ helpers.

Q: What is it like to challenge the status quo of fatherhood in Brazil?

A: It’s very challenging, because people around me, especially men, don’t understand why I should be taking care of my kids so closely and lovingly if “there’s already a mother doing this.”

Related: Tips for new fathers in bonding with their newborns

We live in a society which has a strong “macho” culture, so it’s difficult to find peers who understand the importance of creating strong and safe bonds between fathers and children.

Q: So, what tips can you offer men to rise to this challenge of choosing to be nurturing fathers?

A: My tip is, look out for other men like you. We might not be many yet, but we really need to get together and start talking about toxic masculinity, for instance, and how it affects the way we parent our children.

Related: Dynamics of disappearing dads with Meryn Callander

Being a nurturing dad is the best gift you can give to your child, but also to yourself, your wife, and society. Let’s find our peers and overcome these challenges, inviting other men to reflect on this, too.

Q: Thank you so much, Thiago, for your time and insights! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: Please watch Dads, and if this film touched your heart and makes sense to you, I suggest watching The Mask You Live In [directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom], which is another documentary on manhood. It’s impossible to become truly a nurturing dad without rediscovering yourself as a man.

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Fatherly pushes for universal paid paternity leave, provides resource for U.S. dads

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For being such a progressive country, the United States can be downright dismal when it comes to many family policy trends.

The vast majority of developed nations in the world guarantee paid parental leave after the birth of a baby–in the least, two months in Ireland; at the most, more an one and one-half years in Estonia.

Related: Parental leave isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity

In the U.S., former President Donald Trump made headway in 2019 by signing a law that guarantees federal employees up to three months of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child. But it only applies to federal employees.

The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees up to three months of parental leave within a year if the leave hasn’t already been used for personal medical reasons, and that leave is unpaid. Nine U.S. states have enacted paid parental leave law. Otherwise, it is up to employers to provide paid leave.

Related: Parental leave benefits employers, too

As of 2020, 55% of employers provided any sort of paid parental leave, 45% of which offered paid paternity leave. This represented a jump of 15% in just one year and 30% in three years (just 25% of employers provided paid parental leave in 2015 and 40% of employers  in 2019).

This is encouraging but not enough. This has long been among API’s top areas of advocacy, and we have many allies.

Mike Rothman, cofounder of Fatherly, testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee on May 27 in support of paid leave.

Fatherly is a unique digital platform, specializing in independent and non-partisan journalism with a mission to empower men to live fulfilling lives as nurturing fathers.

“At its core, Fatherly understands that in an economy in which both parents are working, empowering men as caregivers is crucial. By giving them the tools and community, we aim to help remove cultural stigmas around caregiving work.” ~ Read Our Written Testimony to the House Ways & Means Committe on Paid Leave, Fatherly

Fatherly is filling a void left wide open between the unmistakable amount of research underscoring the vital importance of involved, nurturing fathers…and a mainstream U.S. culture that sorely lacks in supporting the fathers that are children need.

Related: Parental presence a compromised human right

Universal paid paternity leave is part of that missing support, and Fatherly has organized an impressive resource, “The Fatherly Guide to Parental and Paternity Leave,” to help parents navigate the state of parental and paternity leave in the U.S.

You’ll learn how paternity leave builds confident fathers, how to talk to your unsupportive boss, strategies for the challenges you may encounter during paternity leave, how to prepare for your return to work after leave, and more.

Most importantly, you’ll be engaged in important advocacy for yourself, your family, and fathers everywhere by challenging the status quo and requesting parental leave as a father, and then by sharing this link with other fathers and fathers-to-be in your life.

That’s how meaningful change happens. Policy shifts when the voices in support of positive change grow loud enough. This Father’s Day, let your voice be heard.

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New Report: Racism creates disparities in child outcome, even before birth

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Zero to Three has recently released its new State of Babies Yearbook. This report aims to bridge the gap between science and public policy regarding the well-being of America’s babies.

The data in the Yearbook is clear: The circumstances into which a baby is born makes an important difference in his or her life start and direction.

On the surface, the data looks to favor some U.S. states over others.

Related: Parent support deserts in the USA

There’s a lot more going on than location–the influence of race and ethnicity, combined with interpersonal and institutional racism, are all critical factors on the quality of health care that mothers and children receive.

Even prior to conception.

Because of intergenerational inheritance of historical trauma, lived experience of racism–both by the parents as well as the generations preceding–weigh on a woman’s chance for a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Related: Historical trauma, breastfeeding, and healing with Camie Jae Goldhammer

This report is a wake-up call to those working for the improvement of maternal and child health and well-being.

Learn more about API’s commitment to justice and anti-racism.

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How being stressed-out hurts the brain, and what parenting has to do with it: Video

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There’s a lot of talk about family and personal stress during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, but stress is hardly a recent development. Neither are the roots of resiliency that some people tend to have.

Scientist-turned-journalist Madhumita Murgia created a TED-Ed short film back in 2015 to illustrate what exactly happens to the brain on stress and how to mitigate this multi-lifetime effect.

“How Chronic Stress Affects Your Brain” is available for public viewing at no cost. Some highlights:

  • Stress isn’t always a bad thing, unless you’re feeling regularly stressed-out
  • This chronic stress changes how our body’s systems work, including our brains…even shrinking certain brain regions while enlarging the brain’s fear center

Related: What happens to the brain when we ‘lose it’

  • These effects lead to it being harder to learn and remember things and control anxiety, and has been linked to eventual depression and Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Stress is inevitable in our modern lifestyles, but there are certain coping skills linked to greater resiliency including exercise and mindfulness

Related: Mindful parenting with Inga Bohnekamp

  • What’s parenting have to do with this? Turns out, parenting style changes how our genes are expressed…nurturing parenting sets up children for a lifetime of resiliency, negligent parenting sets up children for a lifetime of more susceptibility to stress’s effects

Related: ACEs too high with Jane Stevens

  • And these changes to our children’s genes are heritable, meaning that not only can we change the trajectory of our family tree by shifting to a nurturing parenting style but also that our children’s children and grandchildren benefit from this choice

Related: For better or worse, parenting changes your child’s DNA

Curious as to what nurturing parenting looks like? Check out API’s approach.

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A resource for newly at-home parents: Transitioning Home workshops

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Have you stepped out of the paid workforce to care for your children?

Some parents find themselves at home by choice, others by circumstance; some for a short time, others for the long-term. Either way, you likely have questions and thoughts that you’d like to share with someone who has been there, done that.

Family & Home Network is now inviting parents to join its signature 6-week online workshop, Transitioning Home.

Offered at no cost, but with limited seating to keep discussion groups small, these facilitator-led workshops meet weekly for conversation and reflection. There are optional readings and journal prompts between meetings.

Related: Transitioning home with Catherine Myers

This new handout offers a preview of one of the guided discussions in the Transitioning Home workshop series: Exploring Expectations.

Workshops will be held virtually through Mighty Networks. There are two options to join a Transitioning Home workshop: Sign up for Tuesdays at 1 pm EST or Thursdays at 3:30 pm EST. Start dates TBD, depending on enrollment. Evening workshops may be scheduled, depending on interest.

“Being at home certainly will change you, but it need not diminish you. It is as much about receiving as it is about giving, and the self you find at home may be a gift that cannot be purchased with the remunerations of the workplace.” ~ Nelia Odom

“Unfortunately, many aspects of mainstream culture create barriers to meeting children’s needs. Scientific studies are providing abundant proof of children’s needs—but it is difficult to change cultural practices, attitudes and policies.” ~ Catherine Myers

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Change the world by ‘Breaking the Cycle’ with this free film viewing

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Relationships rule the world. How the majority of people relate to one another shapes our society.

Right now, much of our society is stuck…in common-yet-dysfunctional relationship patterns that promote toughness (over tenderness) and isolation (over togetherness), and the results have been catastrophic on our well-being.

That’s why we celebrate the extremely timely release of “Breaking the Cycle.” This 6-minute educational short film is now available online for public viewing at no cost.

Produced by Kindred World, “Breaking the Cycle” was created by API Board of Directors member Darcia Narvaez, PhD, and API Resource Advisory Council member Lisa Reagan as part of The Evolved Nest project integrating research from across fields applicable to positive child development, parenting, and adult behavior.

President of Kindred World and founder of The Evolved Nest, Narvaez is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Notre Dame and has been ranked in the top 2% of scientists worldwide.

Related: For better or worse, parenting changes your child’s DNA

“Breaking the Cycle” illustrates humanity’s need, and capacity, to return Western society’s relational patterns from the current cycle of competitive detachment back to the healthy, peaceful cycle of cooperative companionship that ensured humanity’s survival for most of our time on Earth.

This powerful, and empowering, film is a call to each of us…to recognize the destructiveness of our current relational patterns (on others, to ourselves, and on our planet)…and then to do something about it!

We already know how to do it, and we have 95% of our human history as proof that it works. What we need is to prioritize the health of our parent-child relationships, in the home and beyond into our society’s framework. Change starts with awareness.

We invite you to watch “Breaking the Cycle” as your first step. Share far and wide. Host viewing parties. Here’s a guide to get the discussion going with others.

Learn more about breaking the cycle of competitive detachment in Narvaez’s book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom.

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What about boys? Advocates discuss ACE effects and buffers

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On May 16, observed as World Day of the Boy Child, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh organized a virtual event with other Caribbean child advocates to discuss the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on boys and men, a problem found in many cultures around the world.

The recording of “ACEs and the Boy Child” is now available for public viewing at no cost. Here are some highlights:

  • Our culture has made monumental strides with girls and ACEs awareness, through the feminism movement, but we must be sure not to leave boys behind!
  • Our culture focuses a lot on adults’ mental health needs and less so on children’s mental well-being. Neglecting mental health in boys, however, comes out later as violence when those boys have grown into men.

Related: ACEs too high with Jane Stevens

  • When a child is exposed to chronic toxic stress, the amydala (the fear center of the brain) becomes overactive and the prefrontal cortex (the executive functioning region of the brain) remains under-developed, resulting in a child who has trouble focusing and learning, may be hyperactive, have oppositional issues, etc.
  • ACEs are listed as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; emotional or physical neglect; mental illness in a parent; an incarcerated parent; domestic violence among the parents; a parent involved in substance abuse; and divorce in the family. Other possible stress events that researchers are considering for the ACE list include poverty, physical punishment such as spanking, child labor, generational trauma, and environmental issues. The original ACE study (1998) and many follow-up studies show a very strong correlation between number of ACEs with serious physical and mental health conditions in adulthood, as well as behavioral issues in the child while in school and the propensity for the physically abused child to become a violent adult.
  • ACEs aren’t about merely pointing out that certain childhood stresses have toxic effects on lifelong physical and mental health, but about identifying the reason for needed positive change in our children’s lives.

Related: For better or worse, parenting changes your child’s DNA

  • Healing from toxic stress is not related as much to what a child has been exposed to, but that he has the support he needs to process what he has been exposed to. Our main focus as parents and professionals must be on finding spaces and people where boys feel safe and emotionally supported to work through their questions and make sense of their experiences.
  • Masculinity is defined differently in different regions of the world, and that definition may or may not contribute to ACEs. Shame-based masculinity messages, as well as silent trauma accrued through punishments a child receives, affect the quality of nurturing that boys offer their own children when they become fathers.
  • The big takeaway for raising boys is to make sure our sons have a positive male role model in their lives; if not the father, a grandfather or neighbor or teacher/coach. It’s important that this role model embodies positive male character traits, especially humility.

Related: Nurturing doesn’t spoil kids

  • It’s also important to guide our sons to value people in working-class occupations, not celebrities or pro-athletes, because most men in our culture (and probably our families) are in working-class jobs.
  • Mothers are equally important in boy development. Our sons need to feel welcomed and loved by their mothers. It’s important to guide them with the assurance that they can talk to their mothers about any problems they encounter.
  • We must take care in disciplining our children, both boys and girls.
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Nonviolent Communication can change your parenting world, here’s a free resource to get started

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Gentle parenting can have a profound impact on us parents as people. One way is in our everyday language.

The way that many people in our society tend to relate to one another promotes divisiveness, reflecting our mainstream culture’s struggle with how to cultivate unity and acceptance of diversity.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is an approach to interpersonal communication that dovetails well with our parenting goal of high-empathy relationship-building. Many parents have commented to API on how learning NVC was a gamechanger not only in relating to and disciplining their children but also in how they individually related to others in their families, on the job, and through life.

Related: Practicing NVC

Related: Where to draw the line? Exploring boundaries, limits, and consequences

Our words and actions are the outward expression of our thought patterns. The NVC process aims to challenge our belief foundations regarding human dignity and respect so that our verbal and nonverbal language matches our goals for relating to others.

NVC offers a variety of online and in-person resources, as well as this free ebook.

API’s resources, including certified parent educators and local parent support groups, can help you take the next step in applying respect-centered language to your family relationships.

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