A call comes in from the school. She introduces herself as a school official; the teacher of my daughter who is in the 2nd grade. The caller seems to be nice. The then asks to speak to one of my daughter’s parents. My answer, “I am her dad, can I help you?”
Her next question not only made my skin crawl and quickly heated my last seated nerve (made my a – – hot if you have ever gotten that mad before). The angering aspect of this call is that I have met this woman the year earlier, when she was the teacher of one of my elder children. And then she keeps speaking into my fire.
“Sir, do you live with them?”
At this point I can say nothing that would be considered as being honorable, professional or nearing a sweet response. I take a deep breath and put the phone on the arm of the sofa. Looking at my wife while the steam flowed from the top of my head, I motioned for her to pick up the telephone.
Has our communities de-evolved so much that they align to the scripted “absent father” as seen in Toy Story?
My personal story with my children has been to make myself constantly visible with school administrators, while they move to link every man in to the box of being absentee or inactive in the lives of their children. Past conversations with teachers during Parent/Teacher Conferences have been filled with a great deal of tension and uninspired gazes. Some have had the opening question, “is your wife ill, than why you are here?” A smile and an answer to quickly move into the reasons of the yearly meeting becomes the catalyst for keeping my cool. I know my daughters and feed into them so they can be prepared for life. Why is it the school district and the powers-that-be in television, think it okay to try and limit the role of the dad?
The idea that “Father Knows Best” has been erased and replaced with visions of an absent-minded, bubble-headed fool (who by the way was just lucky enough to marry one of the smartest and most aggressively beautiful woman on the planet) trying to handle a task given to him by the woman who rules and runs all facets of rearing the kids to become great and prosperous adults.
This cannot be the norm.
In recent articles, studies have garnered the grace administered when both parents are deeply involved in the rearing of their children (Two Parents Can Create Intelligent Children) and show the benefits are apparent when these children reach their tween and teenage years. This falls in lines with the dreams that grow during the varying trimesters of pregnancy and the visions of what we want in our children and then flashbacks that we think were failures during our own tutelage from our parent(s).
In the 22nd chapter of the book of Proverbs, we are instructed to feed into our children so they can make the best decisions during their later years. But then we run into school districts that try and tell us that it should be the mother involved in the rearing of our young girls and boys. It takes BOTH parents to construct a good child and great adults.
A mother can:
- teach her daughter how to become a respectful and strong woman
- teach her daughter how to be a good support system for the man who will love her
- teach her son to be confident when silly girls will dump him for not looking like other boys
- teach her son how to return love to a woman who loves him
- teach her son how to aid his family in trusting one another
A father can:
- teach his daughter what not to accept and what standards she should set for those who will replace him for her years of life without him
- teach his daughter to believe in herself no matter what stupid boys will say about her
- teach his son to treat the women in his life as a gift
- teach his son to be prepare for the storms that will come upon his family
My frustration comes when visits to doctor and dentist offices are filled with the similar questions asking if the father has permission to sign medical releases and be in the room with his child. Legal issues or just unwarranted summations and questions offered by professionals who are so stuck in their jobs they want to see how limited the father is in their roles of rearing their children? I can be a little over the top, but enough is truly enough.
It is considerably possible for the father to make some mistakes in the raising of their children. But out of mistakes, both the child and the father can learn from the active portions of their relationship. They learn what fellowship truly is. It is the active movement in growing into one another through trust and love. Yeah, some dads can become overbearing in the relationship with their sons and daughters and seem to be like “Paul Bunyan” in their attempts to teach their children to knock down the giants of life earlier and a little more often, or like “Heathcliff Huxtable” and have all the answers and deliver them with laughter and unscripted humility and love. But in both areas, these types of fathers make the journey into adulthood stronger in each step their children are taking.
Recently, I met a good friend for breakfast and he rehearsed his frustrations about a visit to school (not in the same school district as my child) to pick up his sick son’s homework. In his retelling the story, tears of anger fell from his eyes as his anger was being kindled by the memory of being disrespected for being a caring parent. This opened up the realization of the question which was given me in the telephone call I received from my child’s teacher. If am called on my home phone, which has my name listed on it, asking questions about the child that is carrying my last name and after I have identified myself with the name that corresponds on all the records available, why the debasing questions?
My answer to my friend was to have a discussion with faculty about their approach toward young fathers and make request of the school district to rephrase their stance against active dads. But discussion with one school district may not be enough. It will take the movement of a great deal of parents, who want the best for their children; in and out of the home. Frustrated parents tend not to support the schools that continually aggravate them.
The man answering my phone……
…… is the active father of seven daughters and one son who he intends on creating so many active paths for their success in later life, they will not think of not following in his footsteps of being an active parent.