Monday, October 02, 2006

We Need Strong Teachers

Recently I saw an interview on Fox News with Meg Meeker, author of the book, “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.” In the interview, Dr. Meeker told how necessary it is for fathers to communicate to their daughters the “You can do it” concept. Moms fulfill the loving, caring part of parenting, but dads can instill confidence into their daughters in a way that enable them to have more successful careers and marriages.

In the interview, Dr. Meeker sited a touching personal vignette. One day, she overheard her father tell a colleague, “My daughter’s going into medical school!” This was after Dr. Meeker had been rejected by twenty different medical schools. Her father’s confidence in her gave her the courage to keep applying. She has now worked in the medical field for almost twenty years.

I fully, wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Meeker. American dads have been dealt a bad rap. Just look at the sitcoms that make fun of the modern dad. Even highly acclaimed shows like Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond paints the dad as a clueless goofball. If the moms on the shows were equally made to look foolish, Hollywood would hear an audible outcry. We need strong dads who are willing to be the hero in their children’s lives, who will look their kids straight in the face and say, “You can do it.”

But now, let’s look at reality. As I see the faces in my classes, I am aware of so many children whose fathers are absent or negligent. Without a strong father, are they doomed for failure? Where are they going to get that confidence boost? From me. And you. The Sunday School teacher. The coach. The youth worker. The caring teacher.

My dad left our family when I was two. My step-dad didn’t have the capacity to be a strong father. I wonder if the people in my church knew that my self esteem existed one toss away from the trash can. Regardless, these loving people took time out for me. They asked me about school. They listened to me. They validated my feelings. They bragged on my accomplishments. They invited me to go with them to football games and concerts. They encouraged me to try new things. They told me, “You can do it.” I am here today because there’s a line of faces in my memory bank of people who believed in me: Maxine, Katherine, Mrs. Burk, Mrs. Clark, Trudy, Gene, Grammy Jean, Steve and Melanie, and Ron and Evelyn.

As a teacher, I’ve had the chance to put my arms around fatherless kids and tell them they can do it. There’s Missy and Ricky, Jessica, Lelani, Samatha, April, and Ethan. I’ve tried to tell them of a God who won’t let them down, who will partner with them through life and take them home to His House when they die. I’ve told them they can do it because there’s a Big God who infinitely cares about them and has the power to help them do whatever dream He has placed in their hearts. Even though I don’t know how my words and hugs impacted their lives, I keep doing it because I know the difference it made in my life.

So, if you see a child whose doesn’t have the strong dad they deserve, don’t despair. God can use you to become the influential person in that student’s life that gives them the confidence to be a success. Most important, God can use you to give them the faith that they “can do it” because God can do it through them.


Crystal said...

Karen, This is such a strong message. It needs to be broadcast far and wide (like in an article!) So many people need to hear that just because your earthly biological family let you down, doesn't mean you are doomed and downtrodden. What a shining example. Brought tears to my eyes. You go!

Nancy said...

Karen- Your post touched my heart. Well done. Thank you.