I think most of us recognize that dads are important to their kids, but I don’t think most of us imagine just how critical they are. Recently, I read a new book, The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, by Warren Farrell Ph.D. and John Gray, Ph.D., that explains just how essential fathers are to the development of their children in many, many areas. I learned the following from their distillation of the most up-to-date research:
A study of ISIS fighters concluded that almost all male and female fighters had in common “some type of an ‘absent father’ syndrome.”
Father involvement is at least five times as important in preventing drug use than closeness to parent, parental rules, parent trust, strictness, or a child’s gender, ethnicity, or social class.
A study of boys from similar backgrounds revealed that by the third grade, the boys with fathers present scored higher on every achievement test, and received higher grades.
The more interaction a boy has with his dad before six months of age, the higher his mental competence.
Father absence predicts the profile of both the bully and the bullied: poor self-esteem, poor grades, and poor social skills.
Boys living with dads have better-enforced boundaries, leading to better impulse control and fewer discipline problems.
Every 1 percent increase in fatherlessness in a neighborhood predicts a 3 percent increase in adolescent violence.
Absence of dad contributes to violent crime as much as absence of income. (pp.403-407)
Today, April 26, we’ll be recording a podcast with Dr. Warren Farrell, one of the authors of The Boy Crisis. (Watch for it to be posted next week, the first week in May.) You can order the book from our website at a 40% discount thanks to an arrangement we have with the author.
I’m obviously a woman, but I can see what Farrell and Gray talk about in their book. I see it in the men and boys I see in therapy. I see it through our work at Good Dads. I hope you’ll consider reading the book, listening to it on Audible, or tuning into our podcast the first week in May. You may not agree with everything you hear, but I bet you’ll have a lot to think about in terms of how important the health and well-being of men and boys is to our culture.
Dr. Jennifer Baker
Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder and Director of Good Dads. She is the wife of one, mother of two and grandmother of eight. She may be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though our kids are grown and we now are starting to experience the joys of being grandparents, because my wife works in the field of education, I get to hear a lot of talk regarding the current “do’s” and “don’ts” in the world of raising young people. It would appear that teachers, often the primary adults spending time with our children throughout much of the day, face many of the same challenges that parents face. One such challenge is that of whether or not parents or teachers can be “friends” with children or students. Not only is this a hotly debated topic on the internet, one does not have to look far to find books completely covering or at least touching on it, as well.
Yesterday, my wife felt badly for a substitute teacher who had experienced a particularly rough day with students. First, it might be good for you to know that my wife teaches in, and absolutely adores, junior high. I love my brilliant, soon to be “doctor of education” spouse, but as to her love for working with this particular age group? Let’s just say that I would last about five minutes in one of her classrooms. The smells alone can make one’s eyes water. But, I digress. She didn’t mention names, and she remarked that the sub had a caring heart and really put great effort into her role. However, she also noted that the sub had stated that she really wanted students to know that she could be “cool,” and that she was their “friend.” My wife deducted that the latter greatly factored into the sub’s “bad” day.
Nobody loves kids more than my wife. Even though we had three, active, rowdy-to-raise sons in just under five years, she laments the fact that we did not birth or adopt at least two or three more. As grown men, I marvel at how much our sons want to spend time with us and how much they call for advice. This is especially interesting as we had more than a few years of each one of them thinking that neither my wife nor I had much insight to offer.
One thing we never made a big deal about, either way, was being their childhood “friends.” Did they know we loved them? Yes. Did they know we valued them? Yes. Did they know we believed in them? Would be there for them? Provide for them? Keep them as safe as humanly possible? Chase the monsters out of the closets? Yes, to all the aforementioned. My wife transfers this philosophy, in theory, to her students. They know she values them, believes in them, and will do her utmost best to offer a safe, caring learning environment in which they can grow. But, she also makes it very clear to them that she is not running for Student Council, or trying out for cheerleader. She is their teacher.
Kids need guardrails and gatekeepers. They don’t need someone yelling the rules at them, 24/7, but they do need to know the boundaries . . . and that the boundaries are in place to keep them safe and on their “roads.” They don’t need to us to act like prison wardens, but they do need someone closely monitoring what is allowed to come in and out of the “gate.”
When we parent or teach with our focus being the well-being of our young people as more important than whether or not we are popular, a very ironic thing often happens. A day comes when a young man or woman calls us up, or stops by a classroom, to tell us that not only are we “cool,” but that he or she now considers us and calls us “friend.”
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at email@example.com
I remember when I was a Junior High-aged teenager, growing up in a small town. It was hard to work up the courage to ask a girl for her parents’ phone number, then worry about calling the number, hoping her Dad didn’t answer. I worried about calling too late or staying on the phone too long. There was always the concern that someone was listening in on our conversations as well.
Here I am, some 30 years later, and I have a Junior High-aged daughter of my own. So much has changed. Every kid has a mobile device and most teenagers have multiple social media apps to communicate with friends, family or strangers. These kids can call, text or even FaceTime, at any moment.
I don’t want my children to feel like I’m smothering them, yet at the same time, I want to know what is going on. I want my kids to make their own friends and be able to use their own judgment when certain situations arise. I have basically told my daughter she can have a passcode on her phone as long as I know it, and she knows I may check it from time to time. I have read some messages between her and other girls, and wonder how they could be friends. I’ve also read a message sent to her from boys, and decided, “He will not be her friend!”
My kids are constantly wanting to spend the night with friends. I think it is good for them to get out and experience for themselves, the way others live. Sometimes they come home and really appreciate how good they have it, and other times they come home wanting a pony, or a game room.
We have set up special emoji codes in case they are at a friend’s home and are uncomfortable, or just don’t want to be there any longer. My daughter is not a fan of clowns, so if she is someplace and wants me to come get her, all she has to do is text me the clown emoji. This has already been implemented once. Last summer she had a friend stay at our home. Everything went well, and they seemed to get along great. A few weeks later she wanted to go stay with the same girl at her home. I got the address and warned that the area of homes was not great. I dropped her off around 7 p.m., and around midnight, I received the “clown” text. I called the parent of my daughter’s friend and told them we had an emergency, so I needed to come get her.
My daughter was unable to sleep because as she said, “Everything was dirty and it smelled bad.” We have had the same girl over to our house multiple times, and they continue to be good friends.
As kids get older and begin meeting new people and making new friends, it’s best to keep an open line of communication with them. Talk to them about situations that may occur, and give them ideas of ways to handle them.
I also share news stories with my teenagers, where kids were manipulated by adults posing as children of their own age. They have to know not everyone online or on social media is a friend, or are who they say they are.
Herb Cody is a husband and father of three. He is a part time Uber driver and full time caregiver of his spouse, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after an auto accident November, 2015. Herb loves football and is a St Louis Cardinals fanatic. He and his family live in Nixa MO. Herb can be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can check out Herb's own blog at, www.thecodylife.weebly.com