As we draw near Father’s Day this year, it’s worth noting that dads are more hands-on than ever, taking a team approach with moms to parenting. In 2017, more than 8 in 10 dads report being “very” or “somewhat” involved in tasks like helping their children with homework, grocery shopping, and talking to them about personal issues they face while growing up.*
But not every child has a dad in the home. One out of three children in America (totaling 24 million) does not live in the same home as their biological father.** For many, fatherly figures come in all shapes and sizes and from some unexpected places. Whether a child turns to their own father, a male relative, or a man in their community, these relationships are incredibly important.
And, we’ve found that many schools across the country are recognizing the different forms these fatherly relationships can take by giving their Father-Daughter Dances a facelift to also include single mothers, same-sex couples, and other less traditional family members. At an elementary school in El Paso, uncles, grandpas, brothers, and friends are all welcome to attend their annual Father-Daughter Dance. In Sacramento, Riverside Elementary now calls their event a “Family Dance,” encouraging students to bring any adult of their choosing.
For the subset of youth being raised without a fatherly figure, men in their communities are stepping up to help fill that role. At the start of the 2017-2018 school year in Atlanta, over 70 men from a variety of non-profit organizations joined forces to greet 370 boys at BEST Academy. They welcomed students on their first day with cheers, handshakes, high-fives, hugs, and words of encouragement.
These male role models show up and encourage in many ways. Take the Fuller Cut, a barbershop in Michigan, offers its young clients a two-dollar discount for reading while in the barber chair. Owner Ryan Griffin provides books with positive messages and encourages students as they read aloud. Or in Indiana, the manager of a local bike shop rallied more than 50 bikers to come to the aid of an 11-year-old boy who was being bullied. The group escorted the student to his first day of school and donated new clothes and school supplies to help him feel more confident.
Masculine role models that youth can look up to and learn from are as important as ever. But for many youth, these fatherly figures are coming from outside their own home. As a brand AND AS a human being, how can you help nurture positive relationships between young people and “dads” in every form?
*Source: YouthBeat® Syndicated Report
**Source: U.S. Census