A Louisiana high school has discovered an age-old principle: when fathers show up, kids pay attention. Parents of the students became concerned after a series of fights and resulting arrests at their high school. But instead of simply demanding that authorities do something, the parents -- specifically fathers -- decided to get involved. "We're dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us," Michael LaFitte, who started Dads on Duty, said. The article doesn't say how long the Dads on Duty have been coming to the school, but it does note that there has not been a single fight since they started.
What's surprising about the article is not that the dads' showing up changed things, but that the school allowed it in the first place. Most youth organizations are so frightened by the specter of adult abuse of children that they don't know how to incorporate these sorts of volunteers. They restrict volunteer adults so thoroughly that they might as well not be there. This school demonstrates the principle, however, that caring adults matter to kids. As one of the Louisiana dads explained, "Because not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life. So just to be here makes a big difference."
There is a lesson here for us as well. If we want to help our children, we have to be present. It is just as important for children of divorce as it is for foster children. Both groups of children have seen adults in their lives make promises that they could not keep. If we are to be able to repair any of that damage, we have to show up and be available to our children.