Oprah calls it an epidemic in this country that so many boys can be called "fatherless sons." Yet, whether a father had been physically absent for part of his son's life or emotionally disconnected from the child he's raising, there are still concrete things dad can do to reestablish the father-son bond. For Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, the reconnection process centers around an eight-item action plan that he revealed on a special "fatherless sons" episode of "Oprah's Lifeclass."
One item Canada calls attention to in the above video is to share something unique with a son -- Canada suggests cooking. "Cook a meal. Even if you don't know how to cook, just say to your son, 'Look, we're going to both burn up some food together,'" he advises. "Forever, that's going to be in his mind."
Canada says that fathers should also take a day off work to accompany their sons on a class field trip. "Fathers never come on the school trips. They don't think it's the role for them," he explains.
"Fathers are like pink elephants," agrees Dr. Steve Perry, founder of Capital Preparatory Magnet School, where 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority graduates have gone on to four-year colleges. "[Fathers] come in and [kids] are like, 'Shut up, you got a dad?'"
"It's true," Canada says. "Just show up. You will be such a star in that kid's classroom environment."
Speaking of classroom environments, Canada also says that fathers should attend their sons' parent-teacher conferences. "It matters," Canada says firmly. "It matters to that teacher, but it matters to your son to know that, 'My dad showed up for this.'"
Though some of these suggestions may require a father to take a day off work, Canada explains that the sacrifice is well worth it. "These things will stay with a boy forever," Canada says. "This is not about checks. This is about how do you spend your time? How is it that you show this kid... 'You are so important to me that I put you above everything else'?"
In the video, Canada runs through the other five ways fathers should reconnect with their sons, from teaching your child something you love to the all-important act of showing up to his graduation.