THE MODERN DADS BLOG
Practical tips & tools, links, videos, photos, audio and more about and for today's dad...
*VIDEO* "We Can't Have Strong Schools Without Dads:" Arne Duncan To Fatherhood Leaders at White House
Last week I had the privilege of being invited to the White House as part of their Champions of Change Father’s Day Program. The day was devoted to honoring ten outstanding individuals working to promote responsible fatherhood and strengthen families. The father-in-chief himself wasn’t able to stop by, but our excellent hosts - Josh Dubios, Michael Strautmanis, and Ben Odell filled in with their own behind-the-scenes stories of President Obama the dad.
As someone whose work focuses on engaging dads in schools, the highlight for me was when Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan, made an ‘impromptu appearance’ - followed by Attorney General, Eric Holder - and spoke directly to dads in education.
Below the video are three important takeaways from the video of Sec. Duncan’s brief talk:
1. “We need to raise the bar and expect dads to be more involved at school.” I couldn’t agree more. Our involvement should be the rule, not the exception. I call this the two-way street of dad involvement - educators need to reach out to their community of dads, just as dads need to step up and stop making excuses for why we can’t get more involved. Click to see the difference dads can make in children's education.
2. “We cannot have strong schools and strong communities without more dads getting involved” The obvious follow up question is how? Create a dad’s committee on the PA/PTA, start a dad’s group/network, or simply do a dad-themed event. There are increasingly more dad-engagement ideas and program models available.
3. “We - educators/schools - have been part of the problem and need to realize we cannot do it without parent engagement.” Increasingly, both public and independent schools understand that building bridges between school and home does not happen naturally, especially with dads. Ideally, schools allocate resources , such as a hiring a parent involvement coordinator or adding the responsibility to a dean or development director’s job description. Sec. Duncan is asking congress to double the budget for parental engagement from $135m to $280m. Click here for everything you need to know about home-school connections.
If you work in a school, what have you done to successfully engage dads? If you’re a parent, how do you see dads getting involved at school? What is working?
My friend john yen delivers some great, simple wisdom about removing the clutter of toys and teaching gratitude at the same time...
In the following video clip you’ll meet Paul, a young dad whose story about coming to terms with his son’s illness is an inspiring, yet cautionary tale for all parents. After viewing the clip, ask yourself these questions: are you showing up for your children as much as you’d like and in the ways that they need? How far is your reality from your ideal? Finally, do any of your priorities need resetting?
Here are four practical tips for improving the quality of your time together:
1. Make sure your child is the center of your attention, and not just a distraction while you do other things (errands, calls, emails, etc.)
2. During your time together, do activities you both enjoy—or, put your needs aside and do something your child enjoys, even if you don’t.
3. Invest time and energy into their lives everyday, not just when it’s convenient (this applies whether you live with your child or not).
4. Spend ordinary time with your child just hanging out…with no particular purpose or goal in mind.
Recently, my best friend Jonah Matranga took a journey to discover more about the father he hardly knew. Not only are the images he found beautiful and haunting, but the song that accompanies them is a gem. Jonah and his daughter Hannah have been subjects and supporters of my work from the very beginning; they appeared first in my documentary film, All Men Are Sons: Exploring The Legacy of Fatherhood, and most recently in my new book, The Modern Dad's Dilemma. The following piece is from Jonah's blog page :
Lost, Then Found - A Song For My Father
A vid for my sweet, troubled dad. RIP. Images and words I found on a recent trip to Florida, visiting a couple sweet people on my dad's side of the family, set to a song I wrote about him. He left when I was around 6, and I wasn't in regular contact with him or his family after that. He died in 1994, just before my daughter was born. Beyond all that, the song pretty much tells it as well as I know how to. Goodbyes keep going. Good luck with yours.
Oh, in case you can't read his writing in the letter at the end, here's the part of what he wrote that really got to me. I can hear me in it. It's odd. He wrote it in 1960, years before I was even a thought. He was in his early 20s, writing a letter to his sister:
"I have thought of you off and on the past few months. Now that I am back in circulation, so to speak, I wonder about you and me and life more often. I know that we share a sense of urgency concerning the possibility that life might pass us by. This feeling is called ambition when we know what to do with it, and frustration when no direction is apparent. I run hot and cold between ambition and frustration for lots of little reasons, not the least of which is the weather. There are other factors also, such as sex and money and feelings of self value. You know, little things. Well, slowly I am learning to push during the high times and keep up the front during the low times. Another trick I've put in my bag is to spend less money, thereby releasing me from the need to work at things I don't like.
Perhaps you will find my attempts somewhat useful, if not, at least entertaining."