Where do single moms fit into the program?
While Engage focuses mainly on fatherhood, the nature of Engage may be developed by each school in accordance with the needs of that community – it is a tool that schools can customize. Evenings where moms and dads attend are encouraged anyway and are part of the original Engage model.
The ideal would however be that boys of single moms somehow still get the opportunity to be exposed to the “community of men” where they can be affirmed in their manhood and glean moral conviction. In practice, this will mean that fathers will have to ask their sons if they are aware of any of their friends who come from a single mom home. When a father then embarks on a “Dad Challenge” (for example) with a few other dads, they can always invite such a boy along.
Another approach would be for schools to advertise events as “father or father figure” events. In this way, single moms would realize that they can involve family members or friends in the process of “fathering” their son.
This suggestion is not a cure-all and might not fit every scenario and great practical wisdom will be required to avoid some pitfalls here. However, it highlights the importance of men in the community rising up to meet their responsibility of ensuring that young men (even if they are not their own sons) are raised to authentic manhood.
We are not suggesting that single moms are not doing a great job. On the contrary, many single moms do a fantastic job in the face of very challenging circumstances. What we are saying is that boys will benefit greatly from having their manhood affirmed by other men.
What if our school community or members of our senior management are not comfortable with the Christian nature of Engage?
If your school wants to operate under the Engage banner, the requirement is only that the members of the committee driving the process hold Christian convictions. The actual presentation of Engage to the school community will differ from one school to another and there is no requirement that this is done in an explicitly Christian way.
If your school cannot find such committee members but would still like to initiate similar discussion evenings, make use of the Dad Challenges, et cetera, go ahead but please operate under an alternative banner (e.g. “Connect”, “Build” or “Courage”). Also refer to the “Requirements” section.
School managements not only need to understand the positive contribution that they will be making to their local community but also the benefit there will be for the school itself when the fathers in the community approach their task with greater intentionality.
Where can we get hold of suitable guest speakers?
If the committee members are not aware of a suitable speaker or if suitable contacts cannot be established from within the community itself (which is first prize!), please visit the “Resources and Links” section. The World Needs a Father or Focus on the Family might be able to recommend a guest speaker in the vicinity of your school.