Written by Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School
It’s November (can you believe it?!) and along with all of the Fall Festivals, pumpkin patches, and pumpkin spice everything; comes several events at TFA that focus on our dads. We enjoy Pumpkins for Pops, Donuts with Dads, Pumpkin Centers, and the like. We love the relationship we have with moms, but dads play a critically important role as well. Earlier this month, an article focusing on the important relationship between fathers and daughters crossed my desk. As the father of a beautiful and intelligent 24-year-old daughter, this caught my attention.
The article is written by Madonna King, journalist, and author who writes for a number of outlets including abc.net. Over the course of 18 months, the author sought the advice of over 1,300 girls, aged 10 to 17, and 400 fathers as well as dozens of school principals, psychologists, and parenting experts in an effort to explore the father-daughter relationship. What she found served as a wake-up call to me. Finding the balance between work and home has always been difficult for me. I grew up in a family of all boys, so when my daughter went through the teen years I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the range of emotions. My wife was a patient coach, but I felt like I failed way more often than I succeeded.
I don’t know about where the author stands regarding her faith or what her philosophical worldview is, but I do know that her research produced some valuable findings.
A startling one-third of children believe that their fathers work too much. “Children’s voices are rarely heard in debates about work and family, yet they can be discerning observers of how their father’s job impacts the family,” researchers found. Some of the girls were asked how often they spent 10 minutes in a one-on-one conversation with their fathers. The responses were disheartening, some quoting “Once or twice a year” or “sometimes in the car.” The father’s responses to the same question mirrored many of the girls’ responses. One of the focal points in the article was the thought that many girls believe that their fathers have taken a step back from them with the onset of puberty due to a lack of relatability.
The researcher also reported some hopeful trends. School leaders report that fathers are asking for more opportunities for involvement and seeking out ways to engage at school and at home. This change benefits both fathers and daughters, as well as the schools they attend. As I read this part of the story, I thought about how thankful I am for The First Academy and our continued efforts to include dads in all that we do on campus. Just yesterday morning, we saw several dads pulling hayride wagons for Farm Day. I have seen countless dads at the events that I mentioned earlier in this article. We have an amazing turnout for our Father-Daughter Dance in the spring. We are even beginning to see more dads at our Parent Association meetings and events (although we are always calling for more). I’m incredibly proud our of TFA dads. I want us to continue to be pacesetters for dads in our community – let’s set the example as we embrace the important role God has given each one of us.
Let’s challenge one another to be thoughtful about how much time we spend outside the home. Our wives, sons, and daughters want us to connect with them. They want us to pray with them and be their advocates. Please let me know if I can be helpful as we run the race of fatherhood together.