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by Curtis Weathers —

TSD education columnist Curtis Weathers

We forget sometimes how important dads are in the education of our children.

The role of fathers in today’s society, when it comes to the development of our kids, is crucial.  

I must admit, however, there are days when I feel all hope is lost when it comes to our children.  

The violence in our community, the situations in our schools, the conditions of our families — we’re all racking our brains trying to figure out what to do. 

While we keep looking for remedies to the problems we see in our schools, homes and communities, a major part of the solution is standing right there in front of us — our DADS!  

The role of fathers is critical in the development of our children and, quite frankly, the salvation of our communities.

Dads matter! 

For more than 73 percent of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America today, according the National Center for Fathering (fathers.com).

More than 20 million children live in homes without the physical presence of a father.  Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. 

I remember while serving as a school principal, a significant number my students came from single-parent homes. 

Every so often, a father or an uncle would come to the school to check on their children. Most of the time it was because of some disciplinary issue, but it was always a pleasure to see them.  

I often rolled out the red-carpet treatment when they arrived. But it was for sure a rare occasion to see them enter the building.

Keep in mind, there is no guarantee that children with involved dads won’t struggle in school. But when Dad is not in the picture to lead and guide his children, the likelihood of scholastic trouble skyrockets. 

The reason for that is more psychological than intellectual. The feeling of abandonment leaves a child unable to trust. Lack of trust leads to recklessness, which can lead a person down many treacherous pathways. 

Children need their dads to be the anchor that stabilizes their youth as they are pulled in so many different directions while growing up.

There are many resources to help fathers meet some of the demands of fatherhood. I came across one of those resources just last week.

Seedco is an organization that has been working with fathers and families in various communities for several years. Although I’ve heard the name before, I never knew the kinds of services they provided.  

Travis Wilson (Courtesy photo)

Travis Wilson, retention coordinator for theirStrong Fathers, Stronger Families Mid-south (SFSF Mid-south)” initiative, sat down with me and explained the work they were doing in Memphis. 

The organization has more than 10 years of experience operating fatherhood programs across the country and brings that knowledge to Greater Memphis to help meet the needs of fathers here.

SFSF Mid-south helps fathers and father figures build strong father/child relationships, set up positive co-parenting skills and increase economic stability and mobility through workshops, training and job placement services.

I was blown away when I heard and read about the services they provide.

But there are many other organizations out there that provide services to support fathers and their families that the greater public may not be aware of. 

We clearly need some sort of central directory of those types of services.  

But this issue really isn’t that complicated.  When fathers are engaged in the lives of their children, especially their education, children learn more, perform better in school and exhibit healthier patterns of behavior. 

Even if dads do not share the same home with their kids, their active involvement in their child’s education can have a lasting and positive impact.

But let’s be clear, the 24 million American children growing up without fathers are not all doomed. Many communities have seen remarkable success with mentoring programs for at-risk youth.

Mentors, teachers, clergy, coaches and other adults can provide support for our kids and give them a perspective on the world that can counteract the risks associated with living in a single-parent home.

Lastly, I am in no way marginalizing the hard work and the tender-loving care of the single moms out there. 

Many are doing an excellent job. Others are struggling and need our help.  

As a principal, I had the pleasure of working with scores of single moms over the years and I have been awed by the resilience and determination they show while raising their children, especially their young boys.

So, dads, consider this a gentle nudge. Your role is critical to the growth and development of your sons and daughters. 

They always are paying attention, even when you think they’re not. Always be there for your children, even when you no longer live in the same household. 

I understand relationships can be complicated, but your role truly matters. And to a much larger extent, the health and wellbeing of our schools and communities are in your hands. 

So, WAKE UP, Dads. We absolutely need you right now!

(Follow TSD education columnist Curtis Weathers on Twitter (@curtisweathers); email: curtislweathers@gmail.com.)

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