Getting More Involved as a Dad will Change You

We’re always hearing great things about our WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program. It’s such a simple idea, but something about dads giving a day to volunteer and get involved at their children’s school inspires people in amazing ways.

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard testimonies from two different dads who said that getting involved in this way has changed them as men and fathers. These are the kinds of stories that bring me to tears.

So today I’m featuring these two guys’ comments. They’ve said it better than I ever could anyway.

AA-WD-Dad-hi-10This first one is from Mike, in Kentucky. (I’m giving you pieces of what he wrote on the WATCH D.O.G.S. Facebook page. It’s really great stuff—I’d encourage you to go read the whole thing here.)

A few years ago, the idea of spending time at school was not in my thoughts. Work was work, play was play, and school was a place for kids. I was a dad that went to school whenever my wife told me to.

But Mike’s daughter invited him to the Pizza Night to learn about the program, and he reluctantly signed up. Then the big day came. As he wrote:

My daughter was so excited as we entered her school. [Then] everything was happening at the speed of light. Stand here, look there, wave at the kids and their parents. Have my picture taken, stand at attention for the pledge of allegiance and be introduced to the school as the WatchDOG dad.

At that moment I think I changed. I had never had a day go so quickly, been so fun, and been so impressed. Everywhere I walked that day I experienced the best our schools can be. I was amazed! As I left that afternoon, I stopped at the official calendar [and] decided I was coming back. No one needed to sign me up this time….

I often think back to those days, and wonder about what could have been, and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to walk through those doors…. I changed that day. I realized that my daughter was a whole lot more important than work….

I also realized that I could make a difference. My presence at school was a positive. I could engage and inspire. I can lead by example….

This is my new normal, and it’s happening all across our great country, from shore to shore as we fathers and father figures sign up, show up and become involved.

Pretty amazing stuff. Now, here’s a brief comment from a dad who volunteers regularly at his child’s school in Ohio:

Being a WatchDOG has changed me completely—as a man, as a husband, and as a dad. I have much more patience with my own son now as well as other children, and I better understand his academic struggles. I also go home every day [after volunteering at the school] in a good mood.

I believe every dad, uncle, grandpa and father figure should sign up and be involved in this program—or bring WATCH D.O.G.S. to a school in your community if it isn’t there already. There really is something special that happens to dads when they become “heroes of the hallways.” You can find out more at fathers.com/watchdogs.

But I’ll also admit that there’s a bigger truth behind this. When we dads get a taste of how much we can make a difference—how much children thrive on our presence and involvement—it can have a motivating, challenging, sometimes even life-changing effect on us.

Maybe you’re reluctant to dive into something with your child—like Mike was at first. Maybe you’re a new dad who’s still adjusting to the idea of having kids and how to be a good dad. Or a dad who’s settled into a routine with your kids, and it’s all fine, but nothing outstanding for you or for them.

I would challenge you to try something new with your kids. WATCH D.O.G.S. is a great option. One dad we know—a single, long-distance dad—found a deeper relationship with his daughter when he just happened to be with her to soothe her after an accident at a hotel swimming pool. He called that moment, “The Hug that Changed My Life.”

A few years back, we were able to interview a committed military dad who was serving our country overseas at the time. He gave us this inspiring statement: “My relationship with [my daughter] has helped to define who I am. I am a better man because I’m a father.”

When you take that first step—showing that you’re faithful and reliable in your involvement with your child—it often leads to a breakthrough. Your relationship will be changed, and I believe that as you become a more engaged father, you’ll also become a better person in significant ways.

How has being an involved dad changed you or made you a better man? Share your ideas either below or on our Facebook page.

Action Points for Dads on the Fathering Journey

  • Ask your child, “What’s something new we could do together that you’d enjoy?”
  • Volunteer at your child’s school—a whole day or half day as a WatchDOG, as a field trip chaperone, or for a specific in-class project. (This is a great way for all dads—especially non-custodial dads—to learn more about their children’s world.)
  • Take over a daily childcare task that your child’s mom typically handles. Try to make it special “daddy time.”
  • Join your son or daughter in a project that he or she is working on. Ask a simple question like, “Can I help?” Then make it more than just a project; really give yourself to being in the moment with him or her.

 

Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who lives out loving, coaching and modeling for my children.

Please leave a comment below.

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WATCH D.O.G.S. featured on the TODAY Show!

 

Watch the fantastic story about WATCH D.O.G.S. from Matt Lauer and the TODAY Show, aired 2/11/13, featuring the great WatchDOGS of Martinsburg, WV.

 

Thanks to all the dads and everyone involved in the program who are helping to make it a success!

Find out more about WATCH D.O.G.S.

Join the group on Facebook.

 

Everyday Heroes: Good Dads Make a Difference for Other Kids

 

Kids are looking for heroes. Are you worthy of the title?

On this third week of honoring everyday heroes for Father’s Day, I have to mention WatchDOG dads—men who volunteer at their children’s schools to have fun and be positive role models. We know that a large percentage of dads reading each week’s email have volunteered as WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students).

I believe all dads are already heroes to their kids—or they could be. But WatchDOG dads take it to another level, and we’re hearing amazing stories from all over the country. Numerous WatchDOGS have won awards as fathers and as leaders, and their involvement in the program is often a prominent reason why. You can see many of those stories and videos here.

Now, what will a WatchDOG dad do at the school to make him a hero? Leap a tall building? Not quite. But he’ll walk around the school building to make sure everything is okay.

Will that T-shirt make him faster than a speeding bullet? No, but he’ll get to work with students on math problems or reading, and he will help them become faster and more proficient in those important areas.

Will the dad become more powerful than a locomotive? No. But more important than that, he will have a powerful positive influence on kids in the school—especially kids who don’t have a dad. So many kids need someone to talk to, or just need a good word from someone who cares.

It’s like WATCH D.O.G.S. founder Jim Moore says: “On the playground, you’re Michael Jordan! In the classroom, you’re Albert Einstein. In the hallways, you’re Superman!”

I would say you’re even better than that, and we’re hearing similar testimonies from people involved in the program. One principal wrote this:

The WATCH D.O.G.S. fill the school with a positive spirit that is contagious…. They patrol our hallway, engage students at recess, work with small groups, help with lunch supervision and enrich the lives of everyone. We’ve seen an increase in daily attendance, parent/community involvement and fewer discipline issues. These men are my heroes for seizing this opportunity.

And we get amazing stories from WatchDOG dads. One dad named Keith worked with a boy in first grade who already had a very troubled life. He said, “This kid and many more are the ones we need to be there for. After [talking to] that boy, I went to the school’s office and penciled in a date to be a WatchDOG again.”

As Chuck was helping in his son’s classroom, his son would proudly call him “Daddy” as they interacted. Another boy noticed and asked if that was his name. Apparently he didn’t know what the word meant. Chuck explained it, and then the boy asked if he could call Chuck “Daddy” also. Chuck said, “It broke my heart.”

As Mark walked the halls, helped in the lunch room and playground, dozens of kids ran up to give him a hug and tell him how cool he was for being in the school. Mark says, “I know I am far from cool, but you cannot imagine the amount of kids who have distant dads, no male role model in their lives, or just live in an environment of discouragement. Taking a workday out of the year to pour into these students may just change a life forever.”

That’s the difference you can make for kids at your neighborhood school!

So, for all WatchDOG dads, thank you. You truly are a “hero of the hallways,” as the slogan goes.

I believe all committed dads make a difference for their kids and other children they influence. So even if you aren’t involved in this program, I hope you’ll find ways to encourage a child who needs a daddy. Make Father’s Day a time to reach out and show more children what a Championship Father is like.

Do you have a similar story to from your day serving as a WatchDOG, or have you reached out to unfathered kids in other ways? Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Must-do Action Points:

  • Ask your child, “Who is your hero?” Find out why he admires that person.
  • Are you already a father figure to a fatherless child—as a coach, youth sponsor or neighbor? Write a note of affirmation and encouragement to him.
  • Talk with your family about another child who needs encouragement, and take your whole family to watch and cheer for him or her at a sports event, recital, performance, etc.
  • This Father’s Day, identify a father figure who was instrumental in your growth and make plans to honor him in a special way. (Even if you had a great dad and he’s still around to honor, too.)
  • Your involvement in your children’s education isn’t done when summer starts. Find ways to keep them thinking and growing. Pay them to read books that are good for them; take “field trips” to local points of interest that will expand their horizons; help them hone a skill that will be useful for them in the future. Please share your ideas below or on our Facebook page.

 

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.

Four Strategies: How to be a Dad Who Pays Attention to School

It’s always the same this time of year …

Work obligations slow down a bit (if you are lucky) and family obligations start picking up.

So let me ask you a question:

How much time are you spending in your child’s life? Specifically, how involved are you in your child’s academic future?

Seriously, think about it. How often do you take your child to school? How often to you just hang out talking about his teachers and favorite subjects? How much do you know about your child’s school?

So as an end-of-the-year request, I want to challenge you to hike up the amount of time you spend focusing on your children’s education in the coming year.

Here is one great way to do this: Plan a day right now to volunteer at your child’s school as part of our WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program—or help bring the program to the school if there isn’t one. We currently are on track to having about 230,000 fathers who volunteer at least one day each year at their child’s school. Join us, and make it 230,001.

In addition to WATCH D.O.G.S., here are four other Action Points for being a great dad who focuses on education, brought to you by Eric Snow, the national director of Watch D.O.G.S..

1. Spend some time creating something with your child to give to his or her teacher and/or principal before Christmas break. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A homemade card, poem, story, plate of cookies, or drawing would be perfect.

During this time, talk to your kid about school. What subject does your child like best? Least? Who are his or her friends?

2. Make a New Year’s resolution to read to your child and/or help him or her with homework at least four nights a week.

3. Remember that most schools ignore some big components of education: budgeting and family life. Ask your kids to help with the shopping list, and the grocery shopping. This is a great opportunity for real life lessons on planning, organizing, and budgeting.

In the same vein, make sure your kids get to help with meal preparation. Even if you are going to a relative’s house, you can bake and frost some cookies together to take with you.

4. Don’t forget to make GIVING a major emphasis for your family. You could:
• Go to the mall or Wal-Mart with your child and find an “Angel Tree,” which provides details (name and gift suggestion) of a child whose parent is incarcerated. Include your child in every step of the process: Ask your son or daughter to help you pick out a present for this child, have your child pay for the gift and drop it off with the Angel Tree representatives.

• Take your child with you when you ask your church if there is a family that you could help in some way during the holidays. Include them in on whatever assistance you provide. Depending on how old your child is, you might even put him or her in charge of coordination.

• Ask a younger child to drop money in the Salvation Army kettle.

• Finally, create a plan to be involved in your child’s academic life year-round.

You can learn more about our WATCH D.O.G.S. program—including tons of success stories from around the country—on our website -www.fathers.com/watchdogs - or the WATCH D.O.G.S. group on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/groups/40568192109/.

Carey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment –www.fathers.com/cf. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a father who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.”www.fathers.com/weekly