When I write about parent involvement in their child’s education- becoming more knowledgeable and proactive- I am always addressing both parents. Dads must assume the critical and co-equal role of raising their child. Working full-time does not reduce the responsibility of partnering with your wife and being part of the team that is essentially a child’s first teachers and role models.
The changing family
Modern day families have evolved and changed, but not for the better. When I was growing up in ancient times, the typical family (not mine) was structured thus; mom stayed home and assumed the major responsibility of raising the kids. Dad worked all day and heard about “stuff” when he got home from work. There were few divorces, fewer single parents and out of wedlock babies were unheard of.
Fast forward to the year 2000. Fewer than 25% of American households were made up of a married man and woman and one or more of their children. That is a decrease from 45% in 1960. Divorce rates continued to hover around 50% of all marriages. And about 1/3 of all babies were born out of wedlock. These statistics are alarming and represent the disintegration of the American family. The fallout is predictable. Teaching and guiding our future citizens is more difficult than ever.
A new statistic
Statistics now back up the claim that when fathers read to their children, played with them and organized family activities, the children would be predisposed to have higher grades in school and later, successful marriages.
Researchers from Oxford University tracked 17,000 children for 40 years starting in 1958. “Kids, who grew up with an involved dad, were more likely to stay out of trouble, avoid drugs and premarital sex, and were less likely to have mental health issues.” These results were prevalent across all social classes.
According to Ann Buchannan, director of the Oxford University Research Center for Parenting and Children, story reading at an early age created a bond between dads and their children.
Four key areas for dad’s involvement
Eirini Flouri, a researcher from the National Child Development Study, explained the four key areas for dad’s involvement:
1. Read to his child
2. Took his child on outings
3. Made education a priority
4. Shared the management of the child equally with mom
While none of this is surprising, it emphasizes the importance and necessity of a proactive and dedicated dad who-along with mom- guides and nurtures his child.
This is not rocket science or neurosurgery. No special skills or college degrees are needed. What is needed is caring, knowledgeable and proactive dads who understand and accept their family obligations and act on them. Is there anything more important for a father than guiding and nurturing his children to become exemplary, caring, kind and respectful citizens of admirable character who love learning, their family and their country?
It’s not easy
This is an ongoing process especially during the child’s formative years and beyond to adolescence. Raising children is not easy and every parent knows it. The requirements are: an abundance of love, common sense, patience, some basic knowledge and commitment to a plan that teaches, nurtures, and guides.
Raising a child is not women’s work; it’s mom’s and dad’s work. Don’t blame the schools or society for what you haven’t done or failed to do.
The role of first teacher and role model belongs to dad as well as mom. Love, lead and model your expectations.
Dr. Casale is the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and make your child a success at school. It is available at book stores, on amazon and on Dr. Casale’s website, www.parentsfirst.biz. He is available as a speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.