Let’s be honest, when it comes to school we dads tend to be inactive.
Typically, mom is the one that takes the kids to get their school supplies, ushers them to and from school and helps with homework. In most cases, this isn’t out of a lack of caring, many of us are simply just busy trying to provide for our families.
But as dads, that excuse is not good enough. We need to get involved in our child’s education because when we invest time in that, we are investing in their future.
According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a father’s engagement can help a child succeed in school, increase their chances of finishing high school, all the while reducing his or her risk of drug abuse.
Let that soak in for a second.
Your level of involvement – or lack thereof – with your child has a profound influence. With a new school year approaching what can we do as dad’s to be more active in our kids lives – specifically in the realm of their education?
If you don’t have a teenager in your house yet with a driver’s’ license and you are able to get to work a little bit later every now and then or leave a little bit early to either drop off or to pick up your child from school – do it. Not only does this give you quality time with your child but you will be giving mom a break from being the chauffeur.
And, as I personally discovered, that time in the school parking lot can be very enlightening – not only about our children but school culture.
When I went to pick my daughter up from cheer practice one day I was stunned by an interaction I saw between a group of girls and a boy. I could tell the boy was preying upon these girls, looking for whom he would conquer next. It was at that moment that I realized just how clueless we can be as dads and reiterated why it was so important that we get actively engaged with our children’s lives at school.
Taking a mental note of what I witnessed, I realized we, as dads with daughters, need to be more influential in their wardrobe choices. To her it may be a cute outfit but you know how boy’s mind’s work. In the era of #MeToo, it is critical that we make sure our daughters know their worth and where to find it – it doesn’t come from boys, it comes from God.
She might not like it when you tell her to change or add a sweater but it is your job as her dad to protect her and this conversation creates an open dialogue with her about how guys operate. You need to become like a loving shepherd, whose nose is in the air, vigilant for the wolves.
Now, if you are the dad of boys, it is equally as important that you sit down with your sons and have an open, honest conversation about respect and how to view girls. They need to understand that their words and actions have consequences and boundaries. Girls need to be valued for their minds, their achievements and their friendship. Give your sons practical advice they can use to resist temptation.
Carpool not an option? If the school allows it, join your child for lunch or, if that would be “mortifying” for them, take them out to lunch every now and then. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, go to a nearby fast food joint they love and chat about their day so far. If it’s been an especially rough day for them, chances are you can provide them with some encouragement. Sure, school is much different than it was when we were their age but the problems are timeless.
For those of you with elementary aged students, if you have the ability, use your lunch hour or take a day off of work and volunteer in your child’s classroom. There are actual programs looking specifically for dads to volunteer at school. One particular program is called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), where dads spend a day volunteering in their child’s classroom.
And before you say you can’t take off work, one survey found that 54 percent of Americans don’t take their vacation time. You can afford to volunteer ONE DAY at your child’s school.
Through Watch D.O.G.S., dads help to direct cars during drop-off, have lunch with a group of children, read to them, aid with class projects or help teachers with activities.
If being active at their school isn’t an option, find a way to get involved in their after school activities. If they are an athlete and you have some experience in their sport, volunteer to help during practice or be a coach. If your child is in drama club and you have construction experience, volunteer to build a set. Are they in band? Ask to help run the audio booth or help with set up and tear down. It’s not about how good you are at the task, it’s about taking time to invest in something your child cares about and spending time with them.
Maybe that means cutting back on some of your after work activities or limiting time with the guys; I am not saying stop them all together but if it has started coming before your child then it’s time to reprioritize and invest more in your son or daughter. Stop making up excuses and be the dad they need – one that they know is always there for them, loves them and will always protect them.
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and host of The Every Man Show. His latest book, “Dangerous Good: The Coming Revolution of Men Who Care” is now available.