This Fall (Sept-Dec 2018) I’ll be heading up a divorced dads group at a local elementary school. The same school my kids attended at the onset of my divorce. Here’s my plan.
Dads need support to be good partners to their kids in the school process. Schools are often managed by a 90% female staff. And in this system, when divorce hits a family, the moms are usually well supported by the school infrastructure. Dads can be left to fend for themselves. My goal is to give dads, and specifically dads going through a divorce, a place to get information, support, and confidence to stay closely engaged with their kids’ school experience.
When I was getting a divorce the elementary school did not really know what to do with us dads who wanted to stay engaged.
- The classroom email system only allowed for one parent email per kid.
- The auto-tracking text messaging system only allowed one phone number per kid.
- The teachers would schedule parent-teacher conferences without including me.
- My ex-wife would make decisions affecting my kid’s lives without including me.
- The elementary school felt like a foreign land, I was welcome, but not encouraged to be there.
- The teachers, mainly women, supported and comforted my ex-wife (in ways they could not support me)
- Since my ex-wife had been able to volunteer in the classroom, she already had a familiarity with all the administrators and many of the teachers
- If I didn’t specifically ask to be included in planning and events I would be left out (not malicious, just not inclusive either)
My goal with the Dads Group is to provide a place for men to learn more about how to navigate the elementary school experience, now, without the help of their former spouses. We will meet every other week to discuss upcoming school events. We will troubleshoot any issues the group parents are having. We will work with the school counselor to interface with the school leadership to make sure single dads are equal participants in their kid’s lives.
I believe schools are doing the best they can to support and educate our children. Parents and their relationship issues are not part of that educational mission. At the same time, divorce happens, and dads need the same consideration when navigating the school year. The Dad’s Group can provide some of that support and experience to make the best year possible for you and your kiddos.
We can do this.
Moving forward, this initial group will create a blueprint for future Dads Group at other schools. The non-profit will be involved in marketing and providing the group guidelines and materials free to all schools or parents requesting them. It is our hope that Single-Dad’s Groups become as common as any other “booster” type organization within our school systems. Kids need their dads to be involved in school as well. With that in mind, the group will not be limited to “divorced” dads but will be open to any dads.
Contact me directly with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information: The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children (download 958k PDF)- Childwelfare.gov
image: father and kids competition image, creative commons usage