Home Commentary Op-ed WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HOW FATHERS FIT IN?

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HOW FATHERS FIT IN?

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Teaching at Charlotte Amalie High School this year has been a wonderful experience. I enjoy being around the students, and many days I wonder why I didn't make the career change sooner. There are days that are a real challenge, usually nothing to do with the students, but more on that another time.
As a new teacher, I am always looking for validation that my students are benefiting from my classes and that I am making a positive impact on their lives. Testing is a great way to determine how well both you and your students are doing.
I've been writing about fatherhood issues for the last year, and it just seems like now is a good time to administer a "test" to the community. As I am the volunteer coordinator of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands Fatherhood Collaborative, it would be good for me to know how well our community understands that responsible fatherhood can have an immediate and positive impact. So here is your "test."
Before you begin, here are some study sheet statistics from the foundation's KidsCount report.
– Four out of 10 children in the Virgin Islands live in dire poverty.
– Almost half of the children in the Virgin Islands live in homes without their father.
– Teen parent rates and high school dropout rates are twice the U.S. national average.
Now, please answer the following 11 true or false questions, which are drawn from national statistics. Answer what you believe to be true, not the way you think things "should" be. You get nine points for each right answer, and a passing grade is 70 or above. The answers are at the bottom. Good Luck!
[T] [F] 1. Most unwed fathers are present at the birth of their child.
[T] [F] 2. At the time of the birth, most unwed mothers say that they want the father to be involved in their child's life.
[T] [F] 3. Most men who father children outside of marriage don't spend time with their children.
[T] [F] 4. Most fathers who live apart from their children are able to provide financial support, but are unwilling to do so.
[T] [F] 5. There is very little evidence to suggest that father involvement benefits children.
[T] [F] 6. Most children live apart from their fathers and rarely, if ever, see them.
[T] [F] 7. Fathers who are under-employed are more likely than fully employed fathers to limit their involvement with their children.
[T] [F] 8. At the time of the birth, most unwed fathers are not involved with the mother of their newborn and are not interested in the child.
[T] [F] 9. Research shows that the most important thing fathers can do for their children's well-being is to support them financially.
[T] [F] 10. Many low-income fathers financially support their children.
[T] [F] 11. Most low-income mothers with young children do not value the fathers' care giving and economic providing.
Please take the time to take the test, see how you did — and then discuss it with others. When? Where? On your job, or during lunch with friends and co-workers. When playing dominoes, or waiting for your next taxi fare. At a softball games, or golfing at Mahogany Run or Carambola. Or the next time you have someone over for dinner, or when you're out for dinner.
This year's second annual Fathers' Night Out is scheduled for June 13. Discussing this quiz is one of the activities planned for that night, when men from all walks of life throughout the territory will get together in small groups to talk about what fatherhood means.
Last year, over 50 groups totaling more than 500 men met in the territory to discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood. This year we hope to have over 1,000 fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, fathers-to-be, godfathers and father figures throughout the territory participate in Fathers' Night Out 2001.
If you'd like more information about that, and especially if you'd like to volunteer to host or help lead a group, call the Commuity Foundation of the Virgin Islands at 774-6031 or e-mail to [email protected].
Answers:
1-T, 2-T, 3-F, 4-F, 5-F, 6-F, 7-F, 8-F, 9-F, 10-T, 11-F.

Editor's note: Richard L. Brown is the volunteer coordinator of the Fatherhood Collaborative of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands. A former vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank, he is following his heart and teaching at Charlotte Amalie High School. Readers may respond to him by e-mailing to [email protected].

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