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Being the Best School Dad

Kids are back in the groove of school- studies, activities, events, and friendships.  Undoubtedly, they will have this year’s circle of friends, they know which subjects (and teachers) they like and the ones they are struggling with, they have decided which extra-curricular activities to participate in and are even looking forward to the holiday breaks that are right around the corner.   While great strides have been made with getting people vaccinated, there are still children and other adults who are on opposite sides of the fence regarding the vaccine.  You must remember, from your children’s perspective, school is not only about the learning, but also the social component. It is important that you support both components of their education. Your districts and schools are doing what is in the best interest of your children and their staff (whether you agree or not).

 

Where do you fit in your child’s school community?  For our children, school is where they spend most of their awake time each day. Just like adults with work.  Our kid’s teachers, classmates, and activities mean the world to them.  There are fantastic days and there are bummers. This is the very reason we, as their parent, need to be involved in their school world too.  They need our guidance and support. Since a return to home schooling still may be a possibility, especially in some states, it is even more important you are on top of what is going on with their education.

 

All too often, as a single dad, you might feel awkward or unwelcome in the school community.  Perhaps, your child’s Mom tries to keep you away, or you believe the school is her domain with the kids, so you do not get involved.  It is important for you to realize that your child wants and needs you too.  Get engaged.  Do it for your child, if for no other reason than they deserve and want to know you care!  It helps them succeed too!

 

What about those kids you have in college?  Yes, they are young adults and 18 or older, but that does not mean you stop being engaged.  Your adult children may not need you to tell them to do their homework, what time to go to bed or meet with their professors on their progress, but you DO NEED TO BE ENGAGED! Being engaged does not mean you are a helicopter parent.  Find that balance.

 

Dad’s Homework:

  1. Attend Parent- Teacher Conferences

  2. Call or video chat nightly to find out how your child’s day went

  3. If your child’s school does not have their calendar & events online, ask the school to send you the calendar.

  4. When you are having parenting time, help with homework

  5. Volunteer with their activities, such as a field trip or sports team

  6. Ask the teacher to email/mail you your child’s report card

  7. Get to know your child’s friends – if covid-19 conditions allow, take them for pizza

  8. Display their school picture, schoolwork and report card on your refrigerator

  9. Find out their favorite subject so you can find interesting information to share with them and use as conversation starters

 

Dad’s Homework if you have children in college

 

  1. Go to Freshmen Orientation and help get them settled. Simply don’t drop them off and leave.  Determine your departure based on the schedule created by the college or university.

  2. Make sure your name is on any release forms giving you permission to have access to their medical records and in some cases, their academic progress. 

  3. Laws now govern that colleges DO NOT have to release information regardless of who is paying the bills.  Your child is 18 or older.   

  4. Get their college calendar which is available online. Stay appropriately engaged.

  5. Reach out to your college student often.  Even if it is a text or email.  Simply to check in.  Remember, they don’t need you to hover even though you may want to do that. 

  6. Avoid just showing up to surprise them.  If you want to surprise them, communicate your intentions.  If it can’t be the dates you had hoped, I am sure there are other times.  Be flexible. 

  7. Allow your college student to problem solve when discussing issues they are having. Even if they ask you for the answer, guide them to the answer.  You want independence and self-reliance. 

  8. Remind them if they need anything, day or night, to call you. 

 

Okay, you have your homework assignments.  If you complete them on time, I promise you will have an

A+ in fatherhood...

Helping Hand

Building Your Child's Self-Esteem

Parents, whether single or married, have a responsibility, not only to feed, clothe and house their children, but also help build their self-esteem.  When an emotional trauma happens, this simplest of lessons is often lost specially to single dads.  For me, I was so self-absorbed in working and going to school, I always assumed his mom was handling it, or school would take care of it.  I am not saying I never encouraged him nor watched what he was doing.  I am saying we must be mindful that building your child’s self-esteem is just as important as feeding them.  Most single dads who do not have residency with their children tend to fall short of this important life lesson.  Without it, children will find other, mostly unhealthy ways to build their self-esteem or erode it.  We cannot assume it is someone else’s job or someone else will do it.  Ideally, both parents should be building it together.  While other adults in your child’s life will help build self-esteem, the key lessons start with you. 

When single dads have their children, often the parenting takes a back seat to “fun” and wanting your children to enjoy their time with you.  I get it and understand it; however, you are always the parent first and their friend and buddy second.  These simple suggestions may seem like a no brainer to you, but ask yourself, do you use these strategies on a regular basis?  Are you quick to blame others for your children’s actions or behaviors?  Let’s look as some easy steps to put this life lesson into play when you interact with your children.

     Your actions model behavior.  For example, my dad smoked, drank beer and drank coffee.  I always thought part of being an adult is to smoke, drink beer and coffee.  I would ask to sip his coffee in the morning and asked to sip his beer.  He would always say just a little. He wold say, “You need to be an adult to drink this.”   Yes, I would sneak out a cigarette or two and try to be grown up.  He caught me once and was punished but I never remember him telling me cigarettes were dangerous or addicting.  Now, keep in mind, in the 1970’s smoking was the social norm.  You smoked in restaurants, planes, and yes, in the car with the family.  If you watch old movies, you see this habit all over the place.  My dad would simply say, “When you’re 21, you can smoke and drink all you want.” While you could argue that his responses were indicative of the time, I will ask you, are all your actions in front of your children something you want them to pick up?  Modeling behaviors trickle down to your children.  You can’t expect your child to want to go to church, if you don’t model it.  You can’t expect your children to not swear if you are swearing. Today it could be preoccupied with social media, never putting down your cell or tablet to help your children with their homework.  How many times have you not looked away from your computer, cell or tablet when you child needs help with something and say, “In a minute.”  You are indirectly telling your child that you are not as important as what I am doing right now.  You can expect that behavior from your children at some point.   A better tool would be to pause what you are doing and look them in the eye and tell them that you be done 5 minutes and you will be happy to help.  Family serves at that foundation for positive, proactive behavior.  Having a healthy, functioning family does more to build a child’s self-esteem than anything. 

Edited Image 2016-01-23 13-53-35_edited.jpg
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