Some Homework for YOU, Dad

Raise your hand if you went to more than one back-to-school night during the past few weeks. Those evenings visiting the school and meeting the teachers are always well worth it. You leave very impressed by the teachers, and happy to have so many other people on the “team” to help your children learn and grow.

A dad named Eric told about something else that happened with one of his kids just after the school year started. Maybe you have done something similar.

Just a few days into the new term, Eric’s teenage son brought home an assignment. It was actually an assignment for the parents to complete, to be returned a few days later.

Here is what the teacher wrote:

I take my job seriously. I am asking your student to give me a written profile of himself, and I’d like parents to write a letter on those same areas. Knowing how each student sees himself helps me to better serve his needs, and additional insights from parents will help me understand more about the student.

The form had space for parents to fill on both sides of the page.

Eric and his wife made a few playful comments about who would get to complete this assignment. Eventually they decided both of them would sit down and talk about it, and then write the letter together. And they did. Eric said it was helpful to compare their different perspectives on their son.

If you know anything about us here at NCF, you know that awareness is an important key to fathering. Just like that teacher said …

Knowing your child well in different areas helps you better serve his or her needs.

We highly recommend that you do the same exercise, even if you don’t have to turn it in to a child’s teacher. Have a conversation with your child’s mother or someone else who knows your child very well, looking at the different categories suggested by this teacher:

  • How would you describe your son or daughter as a person? As a thinker or learner? As a student? As a reader and a writer?
  • Are there certain activities, sports, careers or causes that he or she is passionate about?
  • Then, take it deeper. What are their biggest fears and challenges right now? What big events are coming up in the next six months for them?

Every year or so—if not more—it’s good to renew your perspective on your child in these areas. In what ways has your child changed or grown? Are there things his mom has noticed that you haven’t?

Most of all, let’s keep in mind the whole purpose behind gaining all of this insight. When we know our children well, we’re better prepared to affirm, protect and connect with them—no matter what the circumstance. Then, we can be confident that we’re on the right track as we seek to encourage and challenge them to do their very best in their education and any other pursuits in life.

What’s your experience? Have you given feedback to teachers about your kids? Did you feel prepared, or caught off guard? Share your thoughts either below or at our Facebook page.

Action Points

  • Come up with 5 good “What if …” or “What’s your favorite …” questions to ask your kids, and find a time to ask them, one-on-one.
  • Regularly check in with your child’s teachers, coaches, and others to ask what they see in your child.
  • Get a copy of a book your child is assigned to read, and read it yourself.

NCF is a nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of children and establish a positive fathering and family legacy that will impact future generations by inspiring and equipping fathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. You can also sign up for NCF’s Today’s Father Weekly email here.

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There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.