“Fatherhood Initiative” Encourages and Celebrates RBR Fathers’ Participation in their Sons’ Education
“You are the secret weapon,” special guest speaker Matthew P. Stevens, an educator, consultant, and author told Red Bank Regional (RBR) fathers. The thirty plus fathers accompanied their sons to “The Fatherhood Initiative”, an event sponsored by the Boys 2 Men group at the SOURCE in early December.
Mr. Stevens, who has authored several books on the subject of youth and family development including Raising Him Alone: Things Black Women Can Do to Raise Boys to be Men, recited the grim statistics that result in poor male academic achievement and life outcomes. What happens when fathers are not at home? That phenomenon accounts for 90% of the homeless and runaway children; 71% of high school dropouts, 75% of youth with chemical dependence, 70% of the incarcerated juveniles; and a five times more likely suicide rate.
To mitigate these dire statistics, the attending fathers were encouraged to do more of what they undertook that evening, come to their son’s school, partake in activities and a play more active role in their child’s education.
“This is your school building.” RBR Principal Clay told the gentlemen. “We are here for you and it is vital that you have a voice at our school.” She added, “As the mother of two sons, I know there is nothing more important for them than to have a steady male influence in their lives.”
Sean Macon, the Boys 2 Men facilitator and SOURCE clinician, used the opportunity to familiarize the fathers with the myriad of school tools and services to help them guide their children including an on-line parent portal where they can see their grades and assignments. He also encouraged them to seek out the many tutoring programs available through both the school and the SOURCE.
“One such program,” Mr. Macon stated, is available in the evening, conveniently located right in the community adding, “The kids really like it because they go, eat and sit with their friends while they complete their homework. RBR teachers are there to assist and provide tutoring support if needed.”
The program was conducted simultaneously with parent-teacher conferences, and many of the dads also used the opportunity to meet with their sons’ teachers beforehand.
Mr. Steven’s enumerated three most important things dads could do with their sons to enhance their academic achievement. The first, read to them often; he explained that college-bound students should read at least 25 books a year. He specifically recommended they read, Sean Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens with their sons. Second, he suggested they read the NY Times, because the finest writers in the world write for the Times, and would expose the young men to good writing skills; Third, he advised them on the use of technology— celebrating it for all its value including e-books, research and Skype, but also cautioning them to monitor their use of social media and their cell phones stating, “Don’t subscribe to the notion that your children have privacy. They don’t! You bought the phone and pay the phone bill.”
Most of all, he encouraged the fathers to just do things with their sons. “The time goes by so fast,” he stated, “take him to games and engage him. Fathers do make a difference, and you make a difference.”
The RBR’s Boys 2 Men program offers an interactive forum for young males featuring discussions and programs on topics that encourage responsibility and accountability in all areas of their lives. Such topics include: maturity and growth, family relationships, the importance of education, career planning, fatherhood, making empowering choices and the consequences to bad choices such as incarceration.
The SOURCE is RBR’s School-Based Youth Services Program whose mission is to remove all obstacles that impede students’ academic success. Services range from quality mental health counseling to learning support initiatives such as Boys 2 Men.