Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Fathers at School

Today more than ever we are seeing more dads attending school functions with their kids. Personally, I think this is fantastic and also helps your child to feel important and know they matter. Whether it is because there are more single parent households or a father is out of work, it will benefit your child and that is the most important element.
Fathers at School
“When I first started (going to my son's school) years ago it was very, very, scary. You know, I would go in and go places, and there were just moms there. I always felt like I was the odd man out.”

– Danny Montalvo, Father

The Obama Administration is holding a series of forums this fall about fatherhood and the roll that dad can play within the school. Studies show that moms outnumber dads 12 to one in the PTA and yet when dads get involved their child's grades go up.

Andrew's dad goes to school often. And when Andrew gets home, his dad helps with homework.

Andrew, who's now 11, says, "He's like, the best Dad in the world."

But visiting his son's school hasn't always been easy for Danny Montalvo. Danny says, "When I first started doing this years ago it was very, very, scary. You know, I would go in and go places, and there were just moms there. I always felt like I was the odd man out."

Research from the U.S. Department of Education shows when fathers visit the classroom and attend school events...their children get higher grades and are more likely to graduate.

Allan Kennedy, a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta says, "I think it also helps the teacher's perception of the student, when the dad is involved."

The research shows having dad at school even helps kids who don't live with their fathers. Kennedy says, "Particularly in a situation where mom and dad can still communicate effectively, his involvement in the school, even though he's not at home at night maybe to do all the homework with the child, research shows real clearly that the number of young men getting A's in a class is almost double, then when just the single mother does it by herself."

He says, at first, it's normal for dads to feel uncomfortable at school. "However, the more you get involved and push through that discomfort, the more comfortable you will feel, obviously, and the more that your son will see that comfort level growing, and the more he'll believe in the importance of having you there," says Kennedy.

Studies show that the risk of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, sexual abuse, early pregnancy and dropping out of high school is six times higher for children whose biological fathers are not part of their lives. Other research indicates fathers who are interested in their children's activities increase the chances that they will stay involved with those activities. Consider the following:

■Girls who grow up without a biological father are likely to physically mature faster, reach puberty at a younger age than their peers and have earlier pregnancies.
■The most significant influences on children's choices of how they spent their free time were their own personalities and their parents' interest in their activities.

Tips for Parents
Taking an active role in school activities, such as PTA meetings, is just one way fathers can get more involved in their children's lives. Most children yearn for two parents. And most parents would agree that parenting is one job that requires more than one adult. New research supports these ideas.

Seventy percent of men between the ages of 21 and 39 say they are willing to give up some pay for time with their families. A recent poll indicates that the majority of men today are more involved in childrearing and maintaining their households than their fathers ever were.

Fathers may find the time when their children reach puberty to be difficult or uncomfortable. But their continued interest and support is essential for their children's healthy development. Children gain positive reinforcement from fathers who express interest in their various activities. A father's presence is especially significant during adolescence. Consider the following:

■Young children may take the absence of their father as a personal rejection. They begin to think their dad is not around because there's something wrong with them.
■It's more important for a dad to be at home and around for his kid's extracurricular activities than putting in inordinate hours at the office. Dad's presence is more desirable to a child than life's luxuries.
■Parents, and especially fathers, influence their children throughout middle adolescence.
■Parental participation transcends gender and relates to a mutual respect and admiration between the parent and child.
■It is necessary for all parents and children to participate in enjoyable experiences together.
■Psychology Today
■Time Magazine
■USA Today

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