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Fathers taking their children back to school is vital with the academic school year beginning. Research has shown that fathers, no matter what their income or cultural background, play a critical role in their children's education. When fathers are involved, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior. Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact. (U.S. Department of Education. “A Call to Commitment: Father’s Involvement in Children’s Learning.” June 2000). Students living in father-absent homes are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school. (Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers’ and Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. (NCES 2001-032). Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). ADVICE FOR SINGLE DADS There are many divorced, separated and single fathers who would like to take their children to the first day of school. This can cause conflict with their mother, leaving the children out in the cold. However, this should not create conflict if managed appropriately. Emotion should never cloud the parental decision-making process. Best-selling author and nationally renowned Fathers’ Rights attorney Jeffery M. Leving would like to take the time to give advice to both parents before it gets to the boiling point. Leving says that there are certain steps that one must take in order to make this process a smooth transition for the sake of the kids. - Plan Ahead The first day of school is a big day for everyone involved. Make sure you communicate with the mother of your children and the children themselves to ensure a smooth morning. Careful planning and effective communication can turn this into quality time with your children. - Be Patient Many fathers who have gone through a bitter divorce may find it difficult to reconnect with their children. Although this may be painful and awkward at first, with empathy, patience and practice, it does get better. - Avoid Conflict This day can be a stressful time for parents and children alike. Be aware of and perceptive to everyone’s feelings and realize that the first day of school can be tense and stressful for everyone. - Be Flexible Plans change, so you will have to be open and adaptable to positive change. If it turns out that it is not possible to take your children to their first day of school, then see if you can pick them up after school for some quality time or explore another opportunity for communication, bonding and support. - Have Fun Most importantly, remember how excited and anxious you were to begin another school year when you were a child? Stay cool and don’t let anyone ruin this wonderful experience for the children. You may be at odds with your children’s mother, but do not let this affect your relationship with your children. They continue to need a loving and involved dad in whom they can rely on for guidance and support. Give your children the time, space, patience, unconditional love and acceptance they need. Remember that you are a father. Taking care of your children during this important day is your priority.