How Valuable are Fathers?

On family vaca goofin' off. It's what we do!

As we approach this Father’s day I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts that I’ve had lately about the importance that we put on fatherhood and how we recognize or don’t recognize fathers these days.  As I was driving back to work this afternoon from a lunch with my parents, both sets of grandparents and my lovely (and prego) wife and son; I heard a local afternoon radio sports commentator say about Father’s Day, “Well, Happy Father’s day to all you dads out there.  I thought I’d say it because nobody else probably will.  Let’s admit it, Father’s Day ISN’T Mother’s Day.  Don’t expect to be catered to this weekend.” So even though I’m sure that his comment was meant to be tongue and cheek and in good humor the fact of the matter is…. that he’s right.  Our society simply doesn’t value the role of the Father in the family unit as much as it used to or as much as it should.  I won’t pretend to be an expert on why that is.  Could have been because of the absence of fathers during war time in the early 1900s, and women realizing that they could support the family and raise the kids on their own.  Could have been due to the “free love” movement or the “women’s lib” movement of the 1960s.  Who knows?  What I do know is that somewhere along the way Father’s began to be less valued and have less expected of them, and it seems in some sense that some (not all of course) have lived up to those expectations. So let’s get back to the question that is the title of this Post:  How Valuable are Fathers?  Let’s look at some numbers.

  • According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, Absentee Fathers is the most significant family or social problem facing America.
  •  An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent from their biological father.
  • There are almost 17 million children (25%) living with their single mothers.
  •  1.25 million or 32% of all births in 1995 were out-of-wedlock.
  • About 40% of the children who live in absentee father households haven’t seen their fathers in at least a year while 50% of children who don’t live with their fathers have never stepped foot in their father’s home.
  • Children who live absent from their biological fathers, on average, are more likely to be poor, experience educational, health, emotional and psychological problems, be victims of child abuse, and engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological mother and father.
 A white teenage girl from an advantaged background is five times more likely to become a teen mother if she grows up in a single-mother household with an absentee father than if she grows up in a household with both biological parents.A survey of over 20,000 parents found that when fathers are involved in their children’s education including attending school meetings and volunteering at school, children were more likely to get A’s, enjoy school, and participate in extracurricular activities and less likely to have repeated a grade.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children.)
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)
So, how important does it appear that a Father’s role in the family is?  It’s not just important that a Father be present but be active in the lives and development of his children. There’s a lot more to being a good Father then just making sure the bills get paid and that there’s a roof over your family’s head and food on the table.  Being engaged in what your kids are interested in, what they’re doing or not doing on a daily basis is important to their development. Knowing that their Dad is interested in them and cares about how they’re doing is vital to raising a healthy child.
Something that I think will help increase the effectiveness of Father’s these days is simply expecting more of them and recognizing the important role that a Father plays in the family.  He’s more than a bread winner.  He’s more than muscle around the house.  He’s more than the guy that likes to talk sports and be crude every once in awhile and act like a high school kid with his buddies.   He should be expected to be more than just “THE MAN OF THE HOUSE”.
Men may not be inherently nurturing but we can be encouraging.  The encouragement of a Father goes a long way to building up the self image and self worth of his son or daughter.  A Dad’s interest and love will show his children what to expect out of themselves and what to expect out of their future mate.

      DADS LISTEN UP!  

Do you want your daughter to pick the right guy that treats her like a lady should be treated and respects her and puts her on a high pedestal?   Then set the bar HIGH for what she should expect out of a man during her formative years, because she’ll look for someone (consciously or unconsciously) that reminds her of YOU!   Do you want your son to be a stand up guy that influences people and has upstanding character and ethics in everything that he does?  Set the expectation high for your sons as they are growing and watching you and they’ll rise to the expectations that are set for them.
Okay…. I guess I’m coming to the end of my rant.   The point is….. let’s value the role of the father in our families because he’s really way more important and vital to having a strong family unit than I think anyone realizes.   The numbers don’t lie.

Happy Father’s Day!

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