There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States. That means 70 million possibilities for PTA membership, inclusion, engagement and strength for our schools and kids.
One out of every three children in America —more than 24 million in total — live in a home without their biological father present, according to a 2012 White House Fatherhood Report. And, roughly one out of every three Hispanic children and more than half of African-American children also live in homes without their biological fathers.
More engaged fathers and father figures — whether living with or apart from their children — can help foster a child’s healthy physical, emotional and social development. There’s no doubt of the positive impact male role models can have on their children’s lives.
MEMBERSHIP: MAKE IT ABOUT MEN
Recruiting men as PTA members may mean rethinking how your PTA is run on a day-to-day basis. If your PTA mostly relies on female caregivers, reaching out to men may involve breaking down barriers and trying new approaches and strategies:
- Communicate directly to dads – How you and your PTA speak to members and potential members can impact the level of men’s involvement. Simply slimming down language and shortening messages in your communications can be more appealing to male readership. And be always sure to explain and emphasize how men’s unique involvement benefits kids.
- Just ask – Nearly half of men who responded to a recent National PTA survey said they haven’t gotten involved with PTA simply because they weren’t asked. Those involved said their spouses’ participation led to their own involvement. So encourage women in your PTA to invite the men in their children’s lives to get involved, and take your PTA to places with large male contingents – such as service clubs – to share our message and ask for participation and membership.
- Create men-focused groups and events – Surveys also show that men prefer to volunteer for hands-on projects and dad-only events with clear expectations. So organize special events and groups for dads to enjoy working on and being involved with together and define volunteer roles and expectations.
- Respect men’s time – More than 70 percent of recently surveyed dads said time was a barrier to PTA involvement, and the majority said they wanted fewer meetings at more convenient times. Make efforts to schedule workdays in mind for all parents and organize results-driven meetings with clear agendas and topics.
- Celebrate engagement – When you start getting more men involved, it’s great to celebrate! Letting the school community know will help emphasize and publicize your welcoming environment for all parents and members. Thank dads publicly at meetings and in your PTA communications, and always encourage more male membership – we’re all in it together for our kids!
NATIONAL NEED FOR MALE ENGAGEMENT
More than 1 million men visit schools across America each year as part of the National PTA MORE Alliance (Men Organized to Raise Engagement).
Organizations in PTA MORE are dedicated to raising the level of engagement between children and the important men in their lives. Members of PTA More serve as conduits for greater father and significant-male involvement, resulting in positive outcomes and successful relationships for children, parents, schools and communities.
- Works with schools and communities to provide programs to engage fathers and positive male figures in the educational and social development of children.
- Develops male leaders who work with fathers and male role models to enhance positive male parenting and involvement with youth.
- Acts as a resource for families, communities and schools on fatherhood initiatives and issues
- Increases visibility and outreach of quality programming by coalition members.
To learn more about PTA MORE, read an article on this PTA initiative and visit National PTA.