The thought of not being able to see my children for an extended period of time is unfathomable to me. Yet in this country, there are 19.7 million children living without a father in the home according to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau. This figure is down from 25.4 million children a few years ago. But, it’s still unacceptable! If it doesn’t upset you, then you must not understand the importance of fathers to their families.
When we look at the impact of a father’s absence, we see how lives are touched in a negative way. Check out the info graph created by the National Fatherhood Initiative for facts on this father crisis. A father’s absence can manifest in a child’s life as the following:
- Increased risk for teen pregnancy
- Increased risk for criminal behavior and jail time
- Increased risk of poverty
- Decreased health outcomes for mother and child
- Poor educational outcomes.
- Increased risk of substance abuse
- Increased risk for obesity
I’m sure that you’ve seen how this plays out in homes across the country. Dad leaves (or is not in the home) for whatever reason, and the family begins to suffer. The mother-father relationship is fractured. The parent-child relationship is strained. And, the child is trying to make sense of who they are in this world. As well as, processing whether or not they are loved by their parents. Ultimately, the children begin to act out!
Through it all, this fact remains to be true. The dad is impacted by his absence on a much deeper level than people realize. I’m convinced of this state…the more that I work with fathers. With the exception of those really bad apples, a large majority of the fathers want to play a role in the lives of their children. He is the one, who sees his role as provider, protector, and teacher of his children. He is the role model for his son on how a man is to treat women. He is the model for his daughter on how she is to be treated by men. The family, which is believed by many to be the foundation of society, is operating at a huge deficit. When the family unit suffers, our society is guaranteed to suffer.
Where are the fathers? Why aren’t they sticking around for the long haul? Why was involved, responsible, and committed not a part of his story. There are so many valid reasons. Of them all, shame and guilt is the biggest culprit in my mind. You don’t know how many times, we’ve had men opt out on a relationship with their children because they felt inadequate as a father. They’re not making the kind of money, that they want to make. Therefore, they don’t go around to see their kids. In their minds, it’s a valid excuse. But, time is more important than the money. The statistics above prove that too us. Many times, it’s the mom withholding the child. Why? She’s frustrated that it didn’t work out, and this is how to get back at him. All too often, the family leaves due to the father being violent towards the mom. Domestic violence is never the way to lead as a father!
“A true father should be a standard feature…not a temporary option!”–Isaac Rowe
If you’re a father, and you’re reading this article. Do whatever is in your power to stay involved, responsible, and committed to meeting the needs of your children. Their well-being is counting on it. Most importantly, your legacy is being created one way or another. How you walk that out is completely up to you! My prayer is that at the end of your life, your children (as well as mine) and their mothers will have nothing short of praise for us! Hopefully, our absence will not leave an abyss in our families. But, will flood their hearts with the most important thing a father has to offer. LOVE!
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