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Dad Talk: “Men To Fathers”

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“History is there so we don’t repeat it,” is the thought for this week.

As school opens, there are so many thoughts that invade our separate CPUs. CPU? That’s a new term that’s entered our vernacular that helps us think of our brain as a big computer. Think of it, our brain as a big computer that potentially can crash. Think of your brain that way we operate separate central processing units that occasionally are called upon to store information that hopefully keeps us from making the same mistake our parents made, our friends made, even our country made.

Tragedy strikes in many forms, whether it’s wind and rain associated with a Katrina, a bridge falling in Minnesota, or a family torn apart because of broken vows, ill-conceived reactions to boundaries established by a mom or dad trying to raise a teenager who can’t understand the need for a curfew.

There are three things I’d like to address this week. I want to first focus on events that have happened that some of you may be aware, and some may not then challenge you as you reflect on the three events to do something. I’ll provide you with an opportunity to effect a difference in your home, school or community.

The first has to do with a book that invaded not only our home, but millions of homes across the world. Harry Potter. As I waited patiently to read “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows,” the last book in the seven-book series, it became obvious there was an opportunity to educate my sons on the importance of insight. It became obvious there was an opportunity to talk with them about the importance of experience. It became obvious as I read the last book, there was a teachable moment I could not pass up as I saw my younger son begin to reread all the books. If you know how a story ends, then it might affect the decisions you make at the beginning. Without revealing anything about the last book, after reading it one realizes that “All perceptions are real, they may not be valid, but they must be dealt with.” People do things for reasons they can’t always tell us, but when the truth is revealed, the revelation causes us to realize, if we listen to those who know the ending, maybe we should trust them more to find a better way in our journey through life. Harry Potter is a great series. There are tremendous values shared about friendship, family and truth. The last book makes one realize you shouldn’t judge someone, or their actions, until you’ve stood in their shoes.

The myth about boys? Time magazine’s 6 August issue emphasizes that all the hoopla about boys being in trouble is a myth. Though the author, David Von Drehle, provides information on how things are not as bad as everyone had been proclaiming, he doesn’t dismiss the fact that some of our boys, particularly black boys, are in trouble. Unfortunately some people will read Mr. Von Drehle overly generalized statement take it out of context without reading the whole article. While admitting that girls are doing better than boys in many areas, and that girls continue to outdistance boys by achieving better grades, having higher graduation rates, and in some cities women are earning just as much if not more than men, Von Drehle doesn’t state why the improvement, or why he challenges the myth of their being a boys crisis. Rather, he comments that the positive changes that have occurred have resulted from there being a clarion call that boys needed help. Don’t let this attempt at making us feel better let us forget how boys got into to trouble in the first place. We must remain diligent! We must not forget! Parents still need to be involved, particularly fathers in the lives of their boys. Teachers still need to find ways to encourage boys to continue their education. Researchers of the 1990s, who surfaced the issues of boys needing help, need to continue researching and sharing the models that are helping turn things around, otherwise history can repeat itself again.

My third issue? Well, it hard to believe that one day you get in your car, drive a route you’ve driven every day for years that the bridge you have lost count the times you’ve crossed will collapse. That of course happened in Minnesota. People died. Some survived. But the point to be made here is that this bridge had been listed as “structurally deficient” seventeen years ago. A few years ago, try 1950, the levees in New Orleans were listed in need of repair. The point is… ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. There were reasons for us to be concerned about our young men and the importance of what a man being involved in their life can do. That’s the lesson we should remember. Whether it fictionalize as Dumbledore and Harry Potter, a teacher and a student, or a father and his daughter or son, it’s a fact! Moreover, we should not let an article lull us to sleep believing things are fixed.

Now here comes your opportunity to do something. What are you doing the first day of school? Do you or your neighbor have a child who is in school? If for no other reason to see the facility, meet the teachers, or meet another male, taking your child to school is a way to get involved. It sends a message.

If you’ve not heard about the “Million Father March” that’s happening across America, you’ve just heard about it. It’s a movement established to address the lack of involvement of men in schools. It’s a movement established to validate the importance of men in the lives of their home, communities, especially their schools. It’s a movement that I’d like for you to contact your schools and find out what they know about it. If they don’t know anything tell them to contact Mr. Phillip Jackson at the website, www.blackstarproject.org. No one can provide for our children the way we can, and if you want the schools to do that, then stay at home. Otherwise, contact schools in your district and ask them, what are they doing to provide a venue for fathers to get involve in their child’s education? If they can’t give you an answer, then you have just unearthed another bridge that may be structurally deficient as we work to grow boys into men into fathers.

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