card castles with dad

Card Castles with Dad by Ken Carfagno

Building Card Castles and building relationships…

Picture this. It’s the second grade and math class is in full swing. Each kid scratching their head or tapping their #2 pencil on the desktop as the teacher talks arithmetic. But there’s something amiss. Two kids are in the back of the room, building card castles. Are they in trouble? How could they be? They’re playing while the rest of the class is working.

Hello Dads! I was one of those kids. It wasn’t a perfect system, but what else could the teacher do? The wicked smart Chinese boy and, yours truly, literally finished ALL of the math work before the others started. So the teacher excused us to the back to build card castles.

Dadnamic Connection: Build Card Castles

Have you already perfected the art of card castle construction as a 2nd grader? I’ll pause for dramatic effect… [Jeopardy music plays…]

Okay, good. To anyone who said NO… Ouch, I’m so sorry! You’re never too old to start. It’s simple. Lean and lay. Got it, if not – Google it!

Grab your son and get cards. Now build! The winner is the master builder with the largest and tallest card castle.

Conversation Starter: The Difficulty of Fatherhood

Have you ever been given less instructions for an activity than that? It was on purpose. Dads, this is the perfect segway to a meaningful conversation with your son. That’s what Dadnamics is all about!

Great connection leads to great conversation.

Most Dads aren’t given instructions to this “fatherhood” thing, just like I did to YOU a minute ago! Let’s try the card castles again, but this time with the conversation of fatherhood.

Be Sticky!

When you lean two cards together, did you notice that they slide? As an experiment, try to build a simple triangle with two cards on a hard-surface floor, carpet, or rubber surface. As you and your son try, tell him that the “stickier” the surface, the better the castle. Explain that being a Dad is hard, but the first step is to decide to stick around.

No matter what.

The Right Base…

Now that you’re sticky, let’s build the right base. You can align your triangle pieces or construct them in a circular pattern before you start laying down the “first floor”. There are other methods too, but which will prove most durable? As you’re trying this out with your boy, explain to him…

“Son, the base is really, really important to building a STRONG castle, just like being a good Dad. It represents what you believe and what you place your trust in.”

Counting Cards?

I never told you how many cards to use. Ha! You probably got one deck and split them up. But isn’t that limiting? What if you had 10 decks each? Ask your son about the instructions.

“How many cards were we supposed to use?”

He’ll say, “I don’t know.”

Good. Use that to talk with him more about fatherhood. Being the best Dad requires lots of cards. The more cards, the bigger you can build. Share that the “cards” are resources like books, podcasts, conferences, churches, etc.

Copy That

Search “best card castles” and see what you can mimic.

“Being a Dad is difficult and we need to find those doing it well, and copy them. That’s called finding a mentor. My mentor is __________.”

Hopefully, you have one. No worries. Get one if you don’t!

More Time…

Ask your son, “What was the time limit for this activity?”

He’ll say again, “I don’t know.”

Wrap up this vital conversation on the difficulty of fatherhood like this.

“Son, the more time we invest together into our card castle, the stronger it will become. It’s the same with being a Dad. We have to spend time together.”

Now pause while your son beams back at you.

Hope you enjoyed Card Castles with Dad by Ken Carfagno.  For all his links and resources, please check them out below.

Free Resources:


The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS


Connect with Ken Carfagno, Founder of Dadnamics and Author of the Arctic Land experience:

Skype: ken.carfagno
Arctic Land book:
Dadnamics Live! Blog:

Social Media

card castles with dad

The Importance of Being a Healthy Dad with Drew Manning

Being a healthy dad is no easy task. You’re at every soccer game, every dance recital and you help with homework. At the same time, you hold down a job that supports your family, take time for your spouse and maybe even help out in your community. Wait…where are you in this picture? “Eh”, you tell yourself, “as long as everyone else around me is happy, I’m ok with being a little overweight.” Ok, possibly, but what if you could be better at all of your other roles if you took a little more time and focused on yourself?

Being a Healthy Dad Isn’t Being Selfish

Believe it or not, taking care of ourselves first helps us to be more equipped to help others. Think about it: during the pre-flight instructions on an airplane, the flight attendant states, “In the case of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from above your head. If you are traveling with small children, make sure to affix the mask to your face then place the mask on the child.” That makes sense; if we are not able to breathe, we can’t very well help the child sitting next to us place their oxygen mask on their face. So, why would the situation be any different for the rest of our lives? .

Being a Healthy Dad Goes Beyond Physical Appearance

Sure, you think you’re relatively healthy, but maybe you’ve noticed that you don’t feel as comfortable with how you look in the mirror. How does that translate to how you show your children to respect and appreciate their own appearances, or how does that parley to the bedroom? (think about it: if you don’t like how you look in the mirror, you certainly aren’t going to be too comfortable with your spouse looking at you). Your identity may include negative self-talk about your appearance or possibly you aren’t able to keep up with your kids as much as you would like. While being overweight does not make you a bad parent or person in any sense, taking care of your health and your body can simply make you a better person overall.

Change Your Inner Game

It’s time to change your inner conversation, but how? Start with building a relationship with yourself. Sounds strange, but it’s true. If we do not love ourselves first, we truly cannot love others as deeply as we could. Make a date with yourself. No joke. Like movies? Why not treat yourself to one (yep, by yourself)? Take yourself out for coffee; you might actually like the company! By giving ourselves permission to take care of our own person builds a mindset that we value our bodies and minds and gifts. The benefit of this is that those around us will see this and emulate our actions in their own lives. Yes, this is going to take vulnerability, but this is a strength, not a weakness.

Take Care of Yourself So You Can Serve Others Better

Yes, you are a great dad, coach, employee, spouse, etc., but you can be a better you. Your family counts on it. In order for you to be able to effectively take care of them, you have to place that oxygen mask on yourself first, then place it on the ones you love.

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS


Links Mentioned:

If you enjoyed this episode The Importance of Being a Healthy Dad with Drew Manning let us know. Leave your comments below as we would love to hear your thoughts so we can continue to provide you with content you enjoy.

great questions to ask your kids

Great Questions to Ask Your Kids by Keith Zafren

Have you ever found yourself on the frustrating end of a conversation that went something like this?

“How was school today?”


“Did you do anything fun today?”


“Do you have homework to do?”


“Can you answer a single question with more than a one-word answer?”


If you have children, particularly boys, and especially pre-adolescents or teens, and if you’ve ever tried to talk to them, you may have experienced something like this. For us dads, we can easily feel frustrated or discouraged and stop trying—probably the worst thing we can choose—but without a better plan, an easy opt-out.  Great questions to ask your kids just takes a little bit of prep.


I have found that when I approach what I hope will be a conversation with one of my three teenage sons, it’s best if I’m prepared with questions that won’t easily elicit a one-word answer. Most of the questions I’ve learned to ask simply cannot be answered by “fine,” “yes,” or “no.”


When I’m able to engage one of my kids with questions like the ones I offer below, I discover, to my great delight, they actually do have brains that work, and they have far more to say than I might have otherwise surmised—and missed! Pick a good time when your kids are able (and hopefully willing) to give you some of their attention, such as driving in the car, at dinner, or maybe at bedtime, and come loaded with the ammunition below.


Fun questions:

  • What has been your favorite book? Movie? Why?
  • What’s your most prized possession? Why that?
  • What’s one of your big dreams? Tell me more about that.
  • What is your favorite meal? Restaurant?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? And why?
  • If a fire started in our house, what three things would you take out?
  • Who are your top three heroes? What do you admire most about each?
  • When did you have the most fun?
  • If you had $100 to spend, what would you buy?
  • What would you do if you won $1 million?

Some deeper questions that will help you get to know your child better, what your child is really thinking, who he/she is down deeper:

  • What makes you really angry?
  • What embarrasses you? What is most embarrassing to you about that?
  • When did you cry the hardest?
  • If you could do three things to change the world, what would they be?
  • What are five things you are really thankful for?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What causes you the most stress?
  • Who is your closest friend? Why?
  • What three things bug you most about your friends?
  • What brings you the greatest joy?
  • What was your greatest achievement this last year?
  • What was your greatest disappointment this last year?

Helpful, but perhaps risky questions to help you be a better parent:

  • What do you like to do best with me?
  • What do Mom and Dad do that hold you back?
  • What do we do that bugs you the most?
  • What do you like most about the way Mom is raising you?
  • What do you like most about the way Dad is raising you?
  • If you could change three things about the way Mom and Dad parent you, what would they be? And why?
  • What do you want most from me?

With great questions to ask your kids such as these, you will definitely be more successful engaging your kids, getting to know them better, and enjoying them more. Try it. You’ll like it.


Great Dads Shape Great Kids.

Be a Great Dad Today.

how to ask your kids great questions

Post by Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.


Men who want to be great dads love the stories Keith Zafren tells, the practical skills he teaches, and the personal coaching he offers. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids.

Check out his free Great Dad video training.


Keith adapted and revised these questions from Robert D. Hamrin, Great Dads: Building Loving Lasting Relationships with Your Kids. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Cook Communications Ministries, 2002 and Ken Canfield, The Heart of a Father: How You Can Become a Dad of Destiny. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1996, 2006.

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS


Hope you enjoyed this blog, Great Questions to Ask Your Kids by guest blogger, Keith Zafren.

first year of fatherhood

Five Life-Altering Lessons in the First Year of Fatherhood

Are you scared of what challenges you will encounter the first year of fatherhood? – By Anthony Hayes

first year of fatherhood

Are you worried about the first year of fatherhood?

I was terrified. Before Violet got here I was oozing with anticipation and excitement. I just wanted so badly to meet her.

When she came I was relieved and sense of well being washed over me. I did however feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility, more so than I’ve ever felt before. The lessons you learn the first year as a Father will teach you more about yourself AND your capabilities than you’ve ever dreamed of.

Here are the 5 things you can expect to learn during your first year of fatherhood


Change – The first year of fatherhood is all about change!  Every aspect of your life is going to change. Schedules, routines, meals, nothing is off limits. It is the adaptability to your new lifestyle that will allow you to embrace these changes and keep on flowing.


Patience – It will be tested time and time again, and you will learn to have it if you do not already. If you are a patient person you will be pushed to the limit. At times it will be overwhelming. All of these things however will make you a more charismatic, and loving father in the end.


Financial Responsibility – Although I am fairly good with money, I am a recovering impulse shopper. Add the word “frugal” to your vocabulary and use it well. It sounds better than cheap but goes hand & hand. If you eat out once a week, make it once a month. If you drink coffee like me, sorry but no more bucks. Buckle down and cut back where you can. Dunkin’ is okay every now and again. But, don’t carry cash (I find it helps).


Prioritization – Pick and choose your battles and plan your attack. All responsibilities will get accomplished if you do them in the correct sequence. First, comes safety and security of your child and spouse.


Selflessness – “Selfless” –  that is what you will become. This skill you cannot prepare yourself for as everyone’s life is unique. Eating YOUR meal, taking YOUR shower, and sleeping will all have to wait. After the kiddo is full, clean, and all snuggled in you can do all this but not before. If you are under the impression that you know the meaning of sacrifice, you will be amazed at how you are willing to go above and beyond. Learn how to get the most out of the time that is left for Oneself.


While you will experience a plethora of additional lessons during the first year of fatherhood, these are the first few. It will ultimately come down to your circumstances, what you learn and how you will apply this new found knowledge. Looking back, while you plan your little ones first birthday, you’ll realized how great of a parent you’ve truly become. This is going to be an awesome year!


Thanks for checking out our blog!  Make sure you subscribe to our podcast or take advantage of our several free resources below:

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS


Anthony Hayes Links:

Anthony’s Website  <==Click here

Anthony interviewing Larry on “Me, Myself, and I Radio”   <==Click here