Empowering Men to Actively Participate In Their Children’s Education
Dads, stepfathers and fathers are being challenged more and more to visit their child(rens) school from elementary to high school, but what if they have never taken the opportunity to go to the school, how do they prepare for it? As crazy as it may seem, many dads have anxiety and apprehension about making the “visit”.
It is not as easy as it sounds, you do not just pop in and announce you are here to see your child(ren) teachers; there are guidelines and procedures to follow. Mothers have traditionally visited the schools unless circumstances require the male member to perform this duty. Mothers have handled homework, school projects, parent/teacher conferences, lunch money issues, etc. The responsibilities and frustrations that accompany these parental duties are taken care of by mothers who view this as an added part of being a mom. This is not to say that dads cannot be effective, but moms are the main school intercessory for families.
In this twenty-first century, dads, step dads, uncles and older brothers are taking charge and going out to the schools. There are surprisingly, but expected resultscoming from males showing up at the schoolhouse. Behavior is significantlyimproved, academic growth is shown, overall performance in the educational environment is drastically changed, and graduation rates are up because of theinvolvement of male parents concerned in their child’s learning.
The question is WHY??
Children want their parents especially fathers (a male parental figure) to visit their school unless they really have something to hide, then there is a great need to haveseveral school visits. I have always visited my children’s school and this has provided me a basis to talk about their day, what they learned, how are their friends and other important questions.Taking a day off. Taking a day off from work is the only option being an educator myself. Visiting two children
is not easy, my own biological children who live almost two hours away, butit is a sacrifice the I gladly take to prohibit letters and phone calls later.
Expressing your desire for your children’s success in business, the military or other avenues is important, but making sure that your children need a quality education and instilling this in them early is important. Know, "I can contribute to their education”, that is what a real father or dad does. I cannot stick my chest out only when sports are involved or awards, it is all or nothing. During the good and the not so good, that is what makes a real parent. Like the saying goes, “the longer you feed them the more they look like you”. I don’t just want them to look like me; I want them to excel academically and be better than me. Fathers push our children to excel in education, this is because we should and need to we know the importance of a good education especially if you are a minority in these United States.
Extra baggage is good sometimes.
Men are finding that they get “extra baggage” when they visit their child’s school. There may be another child that clings or connects to you. Be careful about creating a bond or connection. Remember some children’s parents will not visit their child’s school for reasons what we do not understand nor connect with. Some children may be jealous of you and your child, but you can always complement them on their accomplishments as well.
Children will be children
Children will be children and no one said it would be easy. They will try you and see how far they can push you. You and your wife or significant partner must have a united front that means constant and continuous open communication. No one person always has the right answer when dealing with kids. You both must be willing to compromise and do what is best for the family and at times that means sacrificing for the family. Data shows the results of men being involved in their children’s lives. There is more of an impact when “dad” visits than mom. As stated on the web site, Fatherhood Online, that is developed from the National Fatherhood Initiative. There are posted ten “father facts”, number ten states, “Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers” (1994-2006). With data showing such positive results there is a great desire to get more fathers, especially minority fathers involved in their children’s academic lives regardless if they are present in the home or not.
In support of bringing out fathers to schools, educational institutions especially elementary schools can support the concept of involving dad by providing activities such as the ones suggested here by, (Weiss, C 2000) “Bring fathers into preschools, schools, community centers. Create father/child events such as dad-child lunches, dad and child playtime, after-school father tutoring”. Giving dads an opportunity to participate in events just geared to them helps break the ice and welcomes them into a world traditionally attended by women. Not being in the picture by men leads to a dangerous trend by many children they to cope with the loss of the parent, mostly the father through separation and divorce. The risk of dropping out of school is greater as found by, (McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994; Zill, Morrison, and Coiro, 1993). Children need the support that two parents can provide. As hard as a parent may try they cannot replace theabsent parent and in most cases it is the father that has departed from the relationship. From the research performed by, (McLanahan and Sandefur, 1994; Amato, 1993), “mothers are more likely than fathers to retain custody of the children in the event of divorce”.
Studies have contradicted themselves in the overall performance of students in school that are living with one parent, but contact by the other parent (father) is still very important. Finding the data that supports, studies have found (Peterson and Zill, 1986; Wallerstein and Kelly, 1980) “continued contact to be related to improved psychological scores, fewer behavioral problems, and better peer relationships” contribute to relatively normal lives of students. Resident fathers visit the child’s school more, 55 percent of fathers in two-parent families attended a general school meeting, compared to 18 percent of nonresident fathers attended a general school meeting. These numbers do not trivialize the need for all fathers regardless of marital situation to go tothe school and be involved.
So the challenge is on, data has shown that our young people need their fathers and dads. Let us not forget that in these times of high performance academic standards, state assessments, peer pressure, drugs and pressures to have sex our children need a strong male figure for proper guidance. Don’t let the streets or those that do not haveyour child’s best interests take control. Be a positive force in your child’s academic and behavioral growth and development.
William Jackson, M.Ed.
"Copyright William Jackson, All Rights Reserved 2008"