Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Changing Role of Father: Involved Dads and Their Positive Impact on Education

The One Thing You Need To Know

Fathers make an impact in all facets of their children's lives - including academic success.

Inthe 21st century, the role of ‘father’ has changed. It’s safe to saythat most people do not expect fathers to take on the role of solebreadwinner, primary disciplinarian or take a backseat to mothers whenit comes to raising children. As this outdated thinking about the roleof the father dissipates, dads who are truly involved in theirchildren’s lives are making a significant difference in many areas –including the realm of education.

The Canadian Father Involvement Initiative(CFII) is a non-profit organization based in Carleton Place, Ontario.CFII defines an “involved father” as: “…a father who knows and enjoyshis kids, one who shares with his partner the work and the play ofraising them, one who understands them well and can handle their dailyroutines. We mean a man who has his own direct, close relationship withhis children.”
In the 2001 census there were 4.2 million fathersin Canada. How do these modern-day dads parent their children? “I thinkfathers parent differently than mothers…but it’s just as important,”says Glenn Sacks, a journalist and the executive director of Fathers and Families – an advocacy and research organization. Sacks adds, “….fathers who are around [these days] are more hands-on.”

Fathersneed to realize the important contribution that they make in everyfacet of their kids’ lives – sometimes the father’s role is dismissedas less important to the mother’s but this is simply not true.

Accordingto an Australian study entitled The Changing Role of Fathers conductedby Graeme Russell, “The ideas that fathers do not have the ability tocare for children and that it is not good for families to have fatherstake a major responsibility for care-giving are not supported by recentresearch findings.” The report also states that, “fathers inshared-care (two partner) families saw that they had improvedrelationships with their children.”

While paid work may get inthe way of full involvement, fathers can stay in touch with children inthe mornings, evenings or on weekends. Simple activities like playingcatch, going to the park, building Lego, shopping for groceriestogether, or singing songs can bring great joy to kids. Dads who havemore time or enjoy group activities may want to volunteer to coachtheir child’s t-ball team, volunteer on a school field trip or join a“dad and tot” program at their local library or community centre.
Involved Dads = Success in School
Whethertoday’s dads are helping kids with homework, attending parent-teacherinterviews, or reading to children at bedtime, the positive impact thatinvolved fathers make resonates in their children’s academic success.According to information from CFII, school-aged children of involvedfathers demonstrate the following attributes:

-They are better academic achievers
-They are more likely to get As
-They have better quantitative and verbal skills
-Theyhave higher grade point averages, receive superior grades, or perform ayear above their expected age level on academic tests
-They demonstrate more cognitive competence on standardized intellectual assessments
-Theyare more likely to enjoy school, have better attitudes toward school,participate in extracurricular activities, and graduate.

GlennSacks was a stay-at-home dad for three years and is still very muchinvolved with his children’s school and social needs. While he lovesbeing involved with his two children, Sacks feels that educatorssometimes lag behind the times when it comes to involving fathers intheir children’s schooling. “Even now,” says Sacks, “if somethinghappens at school, [teachers] still call my wife. She will tell them,‘call my husband – he deals with that stuff.’”

So, with all ofthis useful and important data backing up the important role offathers, what else do dads need to get more involved? Sacks has advicefor dads who truly want to be more involved with their children: “Justdo it,” he says simply.

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