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'Grads and Dads': AEI's discussion about father's involvement

The American Enterprise Institute embraces noble purpose ideas such as the importance of fathers being involved in their children's development. According to research by W. Bradford Wilcox, fathers’ involvement in their children’s student life has an enormous positive impact on their success in college. One might draw that conclusion logically, but it is nice to have scholarly confirmation of that fact.

W. Bradford Wilcox, addressing the importance of fatherhood and college success
American Enterprise Institute

What is the point in say that? Consider that most poor families and those who are barely hanging onto the middle class are so strained by the necessity to survive that they may be short changed of discretionary time to support their student children. That circumstance creates a need that is for society to determine how to close the gap.

The first gap to close is that there should be no impoverished children and families living in America today. Having been unsuccessful at solving the poverty problem, the nation cannot afford to give up on that pursuit. In the process of prioritizing, helping families attend the needs of their students is an essential need. Investment in helping children and encouraging them has very high payoff for individuals and society as a whole.

Having a ticket to the middle class as AEI phrases it requires attention by parents to the need for their involvement. It also requires that communities, government and private organizations address the requirement to support children, a part of which is helping parents help their children.

You have to wonder a bit why AEI chose to emphasize fatherhood over parenthood in this discussion since many distressed families are without fathers. That, of course, is another problem.

“Recent research by W. Bradford Wilcox indicates that high school students whose fathers were involved in their lives were 98 percent more likely to graduate from college than their peers with uninvolved fathers. On Wednesday, scholars, students, and fatherhood and welfare experts convened at AEI to discuss the important role paternal involvement plays in completing a college degree, which is an increasingly critical ticket to the American middle class.

Patrick Patterson, manager of President Obama's National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, described how his father's departure from Patterson's life led to a marked drop-off in his academic performance, and how that experience has informed his work with the Fatherhood Clearinghouse. The Manhattan Institute's Kay Hymowitz underscored Wilcox's finding that college-educated parents are more likely to be involved in their children's lives, and argued that addressing this disparity is essential to economic mobility. Richard Yoder, a first-year Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia, revealed research showing that almost all of his fellow Jefferson Scholars have indicated high levels of father involvement.

The ensuing discussion focused on the government's role in shifting public policy and cultural change to boost fathers' involvement in their children's lives. Wilcox concluded that the elimination of marriage penalties embedded in public assistance programs could promote family stability and that public media campaigns could play an important role in communicating the importance of father involvement.

--Elizabeth Bell”

See the video here:

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