B. Gerard Woodrich is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. He obtained his Master of Social Work degree from Southern University, New Orleans, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge. Mr. Woodrich specializes in treating depression and trauma-based anxiety due to emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. His greatest passion is centered around helping young African American males and at-risk youth using innovative and relatable techniques.
Do you have any favorite memories of your children during their early years?
The early years in my children’s lives are a blur. Unfortunately, you turn around and they are graduating from high school or moving into their first apartment. However, the moments I do cherish are the multitudes of conversations I have with my kids. Whether it’s talks after reading or meditation, daddy and daughter outings or bringing my son to a sporting event. For me, it’s special to have those times where I can be present and savor the moment; the moments where, for however long, our attentions are focused on each other.
What do you remember most about your experiences with getting engaged in your children’s education?
I value the relationships created with various education officials, and I developed great rapport with my children’s teachers and other school staff. I approached the relationships with deference to the profession. I believe displaying respect towards staff and teachers is vital to ensure an environment where my children could grow and learn. At the end of the day, they spend more time with their teacher than me. I want both parties to feel comfortable and supported.
Is there anything you would like to share with other families about your experiences?
I would suggest thinking about your child’s education as collaborative. Provide opportunities that allow your child to learn at their own pace. It is essential that a parent provide an environment where their child can choose how they will engage in school. An example of fostering independence is allowing your child to process difficult learning and social situations without direct parental interference. Providing support doesn’t entail producing the labor. It is more appropriate to allow a child to fail or experience consequences in order to instruct them how to grow from the difficult or negative experience. This approach works for my children and the children I work with.
What are a few tips for families on getting engaged with education professionals at the program, school, or community level?
As previously stated, it is a collaboration. Parents are more successful when they approach situations from a collaborative perspective. An individual may have strong feelings relative to the teacher or school official, but the child must interact with those individuals daily. Creating a positive relationship with those who interact with children supports their development. Furthermore, try to look at adverse situations or conflicting moments as a lesson. Children grow into adults; instill in your child confidence to engage in those circumstances with integrity and confidence rather than bombast or avoiding accountability.
Do you see any barriers for fathers in engaging in their children’s education, and what suggestions do you have for early education professionals and educators who want to engage more fathers?
Yes, the socialized stereotype that fathers aren’t interested or capable of engaging in the education of their children. Specifically, in the Black community we (Black fathers) are consistently burdened with generalizations of inadequacy relative to parenting. Unfortunately, these stereotypes don’t allow an exchange of ideas to ensure progress academically or socially. Dispel preconceived notions of disinterest or competency. I believe just approaching the moment with sincerity and compassion allows a beneficial environment for children. In summation, remember it’s about collaboration and opportunity to foster growth. Fathers are essential for instilling confidence and positive esteem in children.
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