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Opening Doors for Children & Families

'F' Is For Father

I have recently been spending a significant amount of time with my friend "Netflix." I get borderline obsessed with the documentary category and can't get enough of all the interesting topics creative people decide to explore. There are documentaries about EVERYTHING! Most of them fascinate me, some of them I stop watching after 15 minutes and think "TOOO BORING!"

In the midst of my documentary addiction I was listening to my favourite radio morning show, The Garner Andrew's Show on Sonic 102.9 and they were talking about the best rock documentaries. Rock as in rock and roll music...not the solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other planets. One caller talked about a documentary called "The Other 'F' Word." And because I pretty much do anything Mr. Andrews says, I went home that weekend and watched "The Other 'F' Word.

The documentary, in short, is about punk rock musicians and their struggle to juggle their careers and being a father. Punk rock musicians generally do not make a ton of money, they make a modest income and tour endlessly. Most of the musicians talked about their internal struggle of being away from their families while needing to provide financially for them.

Like many Alberta children, I grew up with a Dad who had to be away from home half of the year. My Dad works in the oil patch like many Albertan men. Although the Dad's in the documentary had a seemingly more 'glamorous' lifestyle I was amazed at the parallels; they are away from their homes and families, they are lonely and they miss out on a lot of important family events. And both oil field men and rock stars alike have that internal struggle of providing for their families while missing them like crazy.

A father's role in the family has varied greatly in history. Over the past 90 years much research has been done about the importance of a father to a child. Astoundingly the research shows that children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections. So what does this mean for the many men who work away from their children and families, the military dads, the oil patch dads, the rock star dads? It doesn't mean that all father's need to get a 9am - 5pm job. It simply means that the time they do spend with their children better be valuable, quality time where fathers are truly interacting and engaged with their children.

When I see examples of this at ABC Head Start I am overjoyed. We see dad's who get time off work and come spend it in the classroom with the children. Or dad's show up to school events or parent teacher meetings in their dirty coveralls and work boots. They are present and their children will remember that for a life time. Although my dad worked away when he was home he came to every sporting event, helped out at every volunteer opportunity, and when he had to be out on the tractor when he was home from work we were always welcome to join him!

Jim Lindberg, the former lead singer from the band Pennywise said it best as he wrapped up The Other 'F' Word, "...I want to hold on to that feeling that you can make a change out there. And maybe the way we change the world is by raising better kids and being more attentive to those kids. Maybe that's how we change the world...be better parents."

Every dollar matters. By supporting ABC Head Start you will give children the skills they need to be successful in their educational journey and support families to transition out of poverty, become healthy and self-reliant. Donate to ABC Head Start today and start making a difference in the lives of children, families and our communities.