Parent-Teacher Meetings and The Fourteen Percenters

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Don Mathis, editor of The Fourteen Percenter, gives SingleDad.com members and noncustodial parents advice on parent-teacher conferences.

Dear Richard,

Thanks for the invitation to write you an article. I’ve got one that will fit into the theme of "Your First Parent Teacher Meeting." This is a letter I’ve sent to many administrators at my son’s school. I encourage your readers to paraphrase it to send to their educators or policymakers.

Don Mathis, the 14%er

_________

Dear Educators,

I write to you today on behalf of the 40 percent of Texas’ students who do not live with their birth father.

Would you please reach in your pocket and pull out your wallet? No, I’m not going to ask you for a donation. I want to see if you carry a picture of your children there. Thirty percent of fathers who live apart from their children do not get to see the school portrait order form that teachers put in their students’ back-packs.

And if all men were to glance at the faces of their children every time they open their wallets, maybe they would think of their children more often. Children need all the help they can get these days. They need the involvement of both parents, whether married or not. And this is where you can help.

Student/Parent handbooks (even more so than cars, insurance needs, or business procedures) need to be revised every couple of years. That time is now. We are not living in an "Ozzie and Harriet" world and we cannot "Leave it to Beaver." We must update school policies to reflect the fact that one-parent homes are nearing 50 percent.

The custodial parent, usually the mother, barely has time to get the essential things in her life accomplished. Even if she is on good terms with her former spouse, it is an additional burden for her to pass along every note that’s sent home from the school. Yet if she doesn’t assume this burden, the children are the ones that suffer. This is why schools must assume a new burden; that of ensuring that both parents receive all information.

Schools are in a unique position to involve fathers in their kids’ lives. Many in society believe men are simply not essential in the rearing of children. About 90 percent of the time, civil courts believe every other weekend and 30 days in the summer with dad is enough. But it is not. Fatherless children often become entangled in lawless activities. Criminal courts should not and must not replace father involvement.

Children with highly involved fathers receive higher grades, enjoy school more and have higher educational outcomes… show an increase in curiosity and in problem-solving capacity… have increased mental dexterity, increased empathy and greater self-control. These are several findings that Ken R. Canfield, president of the National Center for Fathering, presented to the U.S. Department of Education in 2000.

One way to double the home involvement for 40 percent of students is to notify the non-custodial parent of their child’s academic life. This may require two folders, frequent trips to the copying machine, double dotted lines on report cards for both parents to sign, extra postage on invitations for fund-raising events, and other time and money-consuming endeavors.

What is needed is a procedure so the non-custodial parent is notified of everything from discipline problems to school portraits (routinely… all year long). In the long term, I would be glad to help draft such a document.

But in the short term, please keep me informed of all aspects of my child’s academic life.

Thank you!

A Texas Dad

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Don Mathis is editor of The Fourteen Percenter, a publication for noncustodial parents. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NCP-TX-Grayson/messages for an index to issues.)

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”

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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children. RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”