Friday, August 8, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by Alexis Dobbins with 0 comment

Include Single Dads in the School Year and Expect the Unexpected

My initial plan was to write an informative piece on how important it is to include the non-custodial father in the educational process. I wanted to share a bit of research on how single dads can be encouraged to contribute their time and involvement other during the upcoming school year.

And then I started thinking about some of the hilarious - now - situations that I dealt with during the two K-12 periods in my life. The data isn't research-based, but its true and it might help you lighten up as we move closer to the start of school.

1 - Know that he may feel like the odd man out and move quickly when in the vicinity of a school

Depending on his own experiences, Dad may not see a school building as a friendly place. How this may play out is a distinct need to rush in and rush out of the building. It's not personal, its just that he sees you as the "education parent" while his role is that of chauffeur. What does that actually look like?

"Chuck, Little Clark came home without his coat. Did the aftercare teacher say what happened? Where is the coat?
"You told me to pick him up - now I have to be responsible for his coat, too?"
"Really? I have to tell you he left home with a coat on in January?
"See, you 'bout to raise a mama's boy. I didn't have a coat for almost two years, and look how I turned out!"
Silence, supported by silent prayer, moving to chanting and a whispered "good bye".

2 - Know that he may boost his actual level of engagement when meeting with educators

Don't let them fool you, the other parent knows very well whether or not his level of involvement is up to par. Whatever the reason - and there may be many - Dad knows if he's putting in "the tithe, the talent and the time". Right now, the two of you are working on an every-other-weekend schedule and that's it. You've told Little C to try and schedule any emergencies on Dad's weekend 'cause otherwise Dad will miss it. But schools are equal opportunity showrooms, and if you act like you know who's to know that you don't?

"Ms. Jones, Mr. Smith stopped by this morning. Something about a winter coat, but I had an opportunity to share my concerns over Clark's rudeness to his math teacher yesterday. He was very helpful.
"He was?"
"Yes, Ms. Jones. We spent a few minutes chatting about how the two of you have set a high standard of behavior for Clark; the morning prayers, the evening devotions, game night. It's not often you see a man who makes that amount of time for his family."
Silence, while making a mental note to ask the school secretary who actually came to get Clark's coat.

3 - Expect the unexpected and go with the flow

Sometime around October, and certainly before the Thanksgiving break, everybody is back in the routine, doing what they do and being who they are. Dad and Clark are on their schedule, and you're handling homework, ironing clothes, signing permission slips, packing lunches, and running over people to get to aftercare before 6:00pm. All is right with the world...and then it happens...

"Jill, I took care of the problem at school."
"What problem? And you took care of it?"
"Yeah, remember Billy? His kid is in Clark's class and he said the kids were bummed because there's some problem with the gym and the Father/Son basketball game is canceled.
"Were you signed up to play."
"No. Had something to do."
"So, and Lord, why am I asking,  how exactly did you take care of it?"
"I called my boy Frank who works for the Wizards, and he got 40 free tickets for everybody on next Tuesday, when they play Miami?"
"They bought that?"
"I have the tickets, girl, I'm good."
Silence as you do a praise dance around the kitchen, say "Thank you, Lord", and hang up.

The moral of this story? Sometimes people don't do what you want them to do, and sometimes they don't do it the way you want, but if you release what you can't control and think positive thoughts for all involved (at least most of the time), you'll see the good.

Dads count, too.


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