It's About Faith, Family, and Business

Where is Dad?

Where is Dad?

Aug 27, 2010

I want to start this arti­cle by first say­ing that I have great respect for any par­ent who is attempt­ing to raise chil­dren on their own.  Your job is tremen­dously dif­fi­cult.  You have to not only pro­vide for your family’s finan­cial needs, but you also have to pro­vide for all of the emo­tional and devel­op­men­tal needs of your chil­dren alone.  There are unbe­liev­able chal­lenges that sin­gle fam­ily par­ents face, whether male or female, that would take days to cover.

The pur­pose of this arti­cle is to address the impact that a father­less home has on the chil­dren of grow­ing up in that home.  Hope­fully this arti­cle will bring a feel­ing of awe at the respon­si­bil­ity fathers have in rais­ing well adjusted chil­dren.

Some Hard Facts

Chil­dren from father­less homes account for:

  • 63% of youth sui­cides (source:  U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, Bureau of the Census)
  • 71% of preg­nant teenagers (source:  U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Services)
  • 90% of all home­less and run­away children
  • 70% of juve­niles in state oper­ated facil­i­ties (source:  U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Spe­cial Report)
  • 85% of all chil­dren that exhibit behav­ioral dis­or­ders (source:  Cen­ter for Dis­ease Control)
  • 80% of rapist moti­vated with dis­placed anger (source:  Crim­i­nal Jus­tice and Behav­ior, vol­ume 14)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts (source:  National Prin­ci­pals Asso­ci­a­tion Report on the State of High Schools)
  • 75% of all ado­les­cent patients in chem­i­cal abuse cen­ters (source:  Rain­bows for All God’s Children)
  • 85% of all youths sit­ting in prison (source:  Ful­ton County Jail Pop­u­la­tions, Texas Depart­ment of Corrections)

Facts com­piled by the National Father­hood Initiative:

  • Father­less chil­dren are 200% as likely to drop out of school then their class­mates who live with two parents
  • 72% per­cent of all teenage mur­der­ers grew up with­out fathers
  • Com­pared to girls raised in homes where both par­ents are present, the daugh­ters of sin­gle par­ents are 164%  more likely to become preg­nant before marriage
  • Com­pared to girls raised in homes where both par­ents are present, 53% more likely to marry as teenagers
  • Com­pared to girls raised in homes where both par­ents are present, 92% more likely to dis­solve their own marriages
  • The absence of a bio­log­i­cal father increases by 900% a daughter’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to rape and sex­ual abuse (often these assaults are com­mit­ted by step­fa­thers or the boyfriends of cus­to­dial mothers).
  • Chil­dren whose fathers are absent con­sis­tently score lower than the norm in read­ing and math tests.
  • Chil­dren who live apart from their fathers expe­ri­ence more acci­dents and a higher rate of chronic asthma, headaches, and speech defects.

Fathers at Home

If you are a man liv­ing in the home today, con­grat­u­la­tions you are already on the way to help­ing your chil­dren avoid being one of these sta­tis­tics.  Your phys­i­cal pres­ence in the home is a good first step, but it is only a first step.

Father­hood is a larger respon­si­bil­ity and far more com­plex than most men real­ize.  Unfor­tu­nately it is some­thing that most men are not pre­pared for, and unfor­tu­nately take far more lightly than the job war­rants.  Yes, I said job!!  Think about it, you are respon­si­ble for the growth and develop of a child or chil­dren who will even­tu­ally not only become pro­duc­tive mem­bers of soci­ety, but also raise chil­dren of their own.  In essence you are rais­ing not just your chil­dren, but the par­ents of your grand­chil­dren.

It’s usu­ally not that hard for fathers to under­stand that their sons will look to them to under­stand how to be men, how to han­dle life as a man, how to treat women, etc.  What’s not always obvi­ous is that our daugh­ters also look to their dads for their sense of fem­i­nin­ity, for a sense of secu­rity, for who they will be attracted to and even­tu­ally marry.

Fathers must be emo­tion­ally avail­able to their wives and chil­dren, and active in teach­ing and dis­ci­plin­ing their chil­dren.

But What If We’re Think­ing About Divorce?

If phys­i­cal abuse or child abuse are not at the cen­ter of your divorce most things can be worked out.  In order for there to be any chance at mak­ing the rela­tion­ship work, how­ever, both part­ners have to be will­ing to lay down any pride, self­ish­ness, etc and truly seek to recover mutual respect and love.

This is not an easy jour­ney by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion, and it is not one that should be taken alone.  You need to put aside any hurt, anger, etc that you may being hold­ing onto, talk openly and hon­estly with each other, and be will­ing to bring in trusted out­side help that can pro­vide you with a per­spec­tive that you might not see.

Seek pro­fes­sional help, find a coun­selor who believes in the sanc­tity of mar­riage and who can guide you through the process of rebuild­ing.

What If My Wife and I Have Already Divorced

If you and your wife have already divorced it is vital for you both to real­ize that you still have a tremen­dous respon­si­bil­ity to raise your chil­dren.  And you need to under­stand that the job of effec­tively rais­ing your chil­dren to be well adjusted is sig­nif­i­cantly more dif­fi­cult, and will require you and your wife to con­tinue to work together.

You and your ex-wife will need to talk openly and often about the chil­dren to ensure you are pro­vid­ing con­sis­tency in teach­ing, expec­ta­tions and bound­aries.  The ten­dency to move on with your own life, to find a new rela­tion­ship, to leave past hurts behind can­not dis­tract from your respon­si­bil­ity that you took on when you took part in the cre­ation of the young lives you call sons and daugh­ters.

But What If the Chil­dren Were Hers From a Pre­vi­ous Rela­tion­ship?

You took on the respon­si­bil­ity to be father to these chil­dren.  More so than hav­ing a child through child­birth with your wife/ex-wife adop­tions and the accep­tance of chil­dren from a pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship is a con­scious choice that you make, fully know­ing what you’re get­ting.  You are still respon­si­ble for being a father fig­ure in the lives of these chil­dren…  and you may even be more impor­tant to these chil­dren because you have made the choice to love them despite there not being a blood tie.

The Wrap

Hav­ing come from a bro­ken home myself, expe­ri­enc­ing both my par­ents remar­ry­ing, and my father mar­ry­ing some­one who came with chil­dren of her own my heart goes out to you dads and to your chil­dren.  I know the pain, con­fu­sion and other emo­tions that chil­dren expe­ri­ence when par­ents divorce.  Being a father myself I feel the joy, respon­si­bil­i­ties and pres­sure that go along with rais­ing both sons and daugh­ters.

There are no man­u­als that come with the job of being a father, and unfor­tu­nately for most of us we have few good role mod­els to fol­low, and we tend not to reach out to other men or our wives for help.  Many of our own fathers were absent in our lives either phys­i­cally or emo­tion­ally.  This is unfor­tu­nate but it is not an excuse for not being a good father to your chil­dren.  There are men out there who can help, men who indi­vid­u­ally or in groups can help us develop as fathers and hus­bands.

Don’t go through this alone.  Reach out to other men in your church, your local YMCA, etc to find men who are will­ing to sit down with you and talk.  Build good, healthy rela­tion­ships with other fathers to help not only your child’s devel­op­ment but yours as well.

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