Want to Be a Rock Star? One Guy Asks, "Dads, Where You At?"
Do you want to help your child be two times less likely to drop out of school and two times less likely to repeat a grade?
How about helping them earn higher grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more, and be more likely to graduate high school and attend college?
Do you want to know what kind of magic remedy can lead to these outcomes?
Quick poll: How many of you reading this article, dads or moms, remember your dad volunteering in your classroom or coming to school at all? How many of you remember any dad in the classroom? Teachers: What is the ratio of women to men who come to parent-teacher conferences or participate in school activities?
The research is crystal clear about the benefits children get from having dads involved in their education. The fact that my children's daycare has no full-time male staff (and only one part-time male volunteer) is disappointing to say the least.
Where are you dads?
The busyness of life and work tends to be a common excuse for the lack of involvement. Much of the responsibility for changing the status quo lies with dads.
However, are our schools welcoming and ready for dads to take active roles in their student's education? Can we move past seeing men as predators, as opposed to parents? I hope the answer is yes to both of those questions. It's time for dads to stop making excuses and for schools to break down barriers that have contributed to fathers distancing themselves.
If you've ever wondered what it is like to be a rock star, go to your child's school and visit their class.
One of the highlights of my week is going to my daughter's preschool to have lunch with her. Not only does she light up, but her entire class gets excited as soon as I walk in. All eyes are on me; everyone wants to talk to me.
My children go to a wonderful daycare. As a mental health therapist specializing in children, I feel like finding a daycare is kind of like what it might be for a chef to go to someone else's restaurant. Yet from day one, I have been continually amazed at the wonderful work that takes place at our daycare and have only found one thing that is missing.
If you work within 15 minutes of your child's school or daycare, don't let any excuses get in the way of visiting at least once per week for 30 minutes. That will get you back to work within an hour, and I promise it will be the best hour of your day.
Research shows that fathers who are involved in their children's lives are happier at work and more productive. If a lunchtime visit isn't an option for you, attend an evening PTA meeting or volunteer to help with the before school crosswalk monitor program that many schools have. If the president of the United States can volunteer to coach his daughter's basketball team, I am certain you can find the time to get involved with your child's schooling.
Our country doesn't have a drug epidemic, violence epidemic, or poverty epidemic as much as it has a fatherlessness epidemic.
Come on dads, where you at? We can do better, we must do better. The success of our children depends on it.
Justin Farrell is a married father of two living in Vancouver, Washington. He is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a Child Mental Health Specialist as well as an adjunct professor at Concordia University where he teaches a class on the Psychology of Fatherhood. He writes a blog that can be found at Courageous Vancouver Dad.Google+