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The Father Factor:
Fatherhood Matters

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Bullying the Bullies

Daddy bloggers are buzzing about James Jones, the father who (quite angrily) confronted his daughter's bullies on the school bus. This dad reached his breaking point and he took matters into his own hands.

What parent hasn't had to deal with a bully at one point or another? A community of similarly frustrated and sympathetic parents is now growing around Jones. There's even a Facebook page that is advocating on his behalf.

The video of his reaction is below. It's hard to know when to intervene in a situation like this, much less how to intervene. However, in the case of Jones, by berating these kids, he is continuing the cycle. There is still no one in this situation that is showing these children what it means to be respectful and how to solve conflicts. His reaction only perpetuates this behavior.

We've offered some strategies to help parents deal with bullies, but what do you think? How far is too far? How have you handled similar situations with your children?

Keeping the Father in the Family & Keeping the Scholar in Scholar-Athlete

It was good to see that an NFL team was smart enough to draft Myron Rolle. Despite being the top high school recruit in his class year and an All-American at Florida State, many pro teams were lukewarm and questioned his commitment to football because Rolle choose to forgo playing his senior year to accept the Rhodes Scholarship, thus keeping the “scholar” in scholar-athlete. (Check out the video here to see just how impressive this young man is.)

With the considerable money at stake, I certainly understand concerns that Rolle’s skills may be a tad rusty after taking a year off but some of comments by NFL prognosticators were just nonsensical. For example, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick said Rolle's intellect could be a hindrance on the field: "If you want to create hesitation on a guy, make him think. This guy can't help but think." Huh???

I played football in college at Princeton and I raised a son who was a scholarship football player at the University of North Carolina. One thing that I remember vividly is that whenever I made a “bone head” mistake, my coach would admonish me to get my head out of my—shall we say—hindquarters and get it in the game. That’s “coachspeak” for think. So, it makes me wonder if there is not something else going on here. Could it be that some don’t want other college players to follow Rolle’s lead and take full advantage of their scholarships by making their studies a priority? That would certainly make life more difficult for college coaches because practice times usually conflict with biology lab times. Well, I hope this is not the case, especially given the dismal graduation rates in many top college football programs and the need for more African American men--football players or not-to earn college degrees.

Interestingly, it’s not hard to see why Rolle has taken the path that he has. On hearing Billick’s comments, Rolle’s father, Whitney, said, "These people, they feel as though you can show commitment in only so many ways. We have taught all our kids if you're going to do something, do it 100%, so to hear these people say that they question his commitment to football, it's a disgrace.”

I couldn’t agree more…Fortunately, Rolle has gotten some good coaching at home over the years.

Duncan's Prescription for Great Schools: Dads!

Arne Duncan, US Education Secretary, was in New Hampshire this week for a town hall on fatherhood and education:

Good Player. Great Father. Take Two...

Following on the heels of the Brodrick Smith story, Tennessean.com reports that Vince Young stepped in to be dad to Trenton and Tyler, the two younger sons of the late Steve McNair. The boys' school hosted a Dear Dads event, and Young surprised Trenton and Tyler by showing up and having breakfast with them.

"Those are my boys," Young told the Tennessean. "I wouldn't say it was to pay anyone back; it was just out of love. Steve would do it for me. He pretty much did it for me when I was growing up. I have a history with the boys and I want to do anything I can. I am their big brother."

The one thing that seems absolutely clear here is that Trenton and Tyler need a father, and Young is willing to make the sacrifices necessary for the boys to have that. We need more dads (and father figures) like Vince Youngs, and not just for children whose fathers have been forcibly removed from their life by violence, but also for those children whose fathers are unable or unwilling to be involved. In any case, kudos to Young - for great performance on and off the field.

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