In the classroom, I didn't have a lot of interaction with my students' fathers. There were a few, but I remember them clearly because there were so few. Most of them were not around, incarcerated, or just not involved in life at school, preferring to leave those responsibilities to the mothers and grandmothers.
As I've been tutoring in students' homes, I still don't see many fathers. I primarily deal with the mothers, and often don't meet a student's father until a year or more into our tutoring relationship. Other fathers are present but let their wives deal with scheduling, feedback, and payment.
Many of these men seem to be somewhat shy about getting involved with their children. I don't usually get the feeling that they consider themselves above being interested in school, but often that they don't really know how they fit in.
I've notice with one man, particularly, that he seems to be really proud of his middle school daughter and how hard she is working, but he doesn't really know how to tell her. He often deals with this by telling her through me: "Do you see how well she's doing? She's really improving." Never directly to his daughter, but he always waits until she's in the room so she'll hear it. She lights up when he does this.
I'm glad she knows how her father feels but I'd like him to be able to tell her directly. I don't yet have the relationship with this man to tell him this but I've tried being sneaky. I usually say, "Oh, show your dad your grade on your test and I'll be right back," then go to the bathroom or get something out of the car, forcing him to react directly to her. His approval means so much to her and she's so excited to show him her work. Last time, I came in as he was telling her directly how proud he was, so hopefully my trick is working.