“The widespread observance of this occasion (Father’s Day) is calculated to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.” – Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President, 1872–1933
Each year we celebrate fathers. We grill out, get him a tie or shirt, or maybe one of those “Father of the Year” coffee mugs. They are small tokens of appreciation and probably fall more under the category of tradition rather than a thoughtful dad-honoring celebration, but, we go through the motions all the same. Why do we do this? Why don’t we simply have a Parent Day and whichever parent you want to honor, or both, gets the cheesy gifts? Actually, this may be where society is headed, though the evidence pointing to the critically important role of fathers in a healthy society is so pointed it’s beyond debate.
What the World Looks Like Without Fathers
I had a hard time choosing the image for this Father’s Day post since my parents divorced when I was young and my grandfather was my primary father figure. However, since it is such a cute picture of me I decided to use it. ;-). When I hit my teenage years I moved back in with my mom. All of that is to say, I know the feeling of a fatherless home. Unfortunately, so do millions of other children.
In 1960 only 11% of American children lived without a dad in the house. In just over 50 years that number has jumped to 40% according to the US Census data. To put that in real numbers, that is 30 million children without a father in the house. Not only has the percentage more than tripled, the number of children that made up 11% in 1960 was far less than the number would be now due to increasing population. Let’s see what we get when fathers are absent from the home.
These statistics come from here though similar stats can be found all over the net. Search for Fatherless Statistics if you want to do your own research.
- 90% of homeless and runaway children
- 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger
- 71% of pregnant teenagers
- 63% of youth suicides
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders
- 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists
- 71% of high school dropouts
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers
- 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions
- 85% of youths in prisons
- Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Keep in mind these statistics are just for dads not being in the house. It doesn’t take into account those in the home that aren’t actually parenting. However, it’s amazing to see the effect a father has on a family just by stepping foot in the home every day.
How fatherless homes affect society
Imagine the ripple effect from the information above. 30+ million children in society, carrying the wounds of not having a father, growing up and participating in society: getting jobs (hopefully), voting, having children, holding public office, serving in the military, dealing with the stressors of war, — being your neighbor. How do they get the values and fathering instilled into them when they get older? How do they know how to father their own children? I’m am certain that Christ and other men in our lives can bring healing here and get us on the right path. However, it’s much harder to teach an adult how to be a good man or woman than it is to teach a child. Children learn through observation; through the countless hours of seeing how dad responds in countless situations.
Single moms are bearing our burdens
There has been a drastic increase in the number of children with ADD, ADHD, Autism, and Asperger’s. If 40% of America’s children are being raised without a father, that means a lot of mothers and grandparents are having to deal with these issues on their own. I can remember how hard it was for my mom, as a single-mother, to care for me, and I have experience raising kids that have had Autism-like issues. I can’t imagine trying to do both at the same time! No wonder so many kids are on medications these days. How could a single-mother do it all?
Thanks to Fathers
While it’s easy to focus on the negatives, Father’s Day is, after all, a day for celebrating fathers, not dwell on dead-beat dads. I want to say thanks to all of the men who are, as Coolidge said, trying to live up to “the full measure of their obligations.” Being a father is a rewarding challenge, but it is first and foremost an obligation. An obligation to your children, to their mother, to society, and to yourself. Every man is bound by a moral code, instilled in all of us to live up to its full measure, to care for our children and provide for our families. To the fathers who have taken on this great role, who have stood up to the High and Manly call of Fatherhood, I say, Thank You! I know many of you, like myself, did not have a steady father figure in the home, and have taken it upon yourself to venture into unknown waters because you believe it is right. You are honoring yourself, your children, and your community.
Stay in the Fight
I hope you realize that we fathers are in a battle. There are people who are always after the hearts and minds of our children. While we call them our sons and daughters, they call them consumers and voters. Our greatest calling is to our own families, but there are other children, young men, and grown men, who need the influence of a father. The work we do is vital, literally, to the lives of people. It means fewer suicides, school shootings, pregnant teens and abortions, less crime, and an overall better society. There is definitely a pull on us to give it up, to stay boys forever, and many men fall into that trap.
This Father’s Day make a commitment to continue growing in manliness, to building up your character, and to making the most out of the High Call of Fatherhood.
Happy Father’s Day!