Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts on Fathers Day 2011

Thoughts about Fathers’ Day 2011

Today I spent a little time thinking about fathers, fatherhood and of course as always, I spent a little time reflecting on the direction our republic is headed in.  A couple thoughts came to my mind. 

First of all, I am extremely grateful for my father, for several reasons.

My father, through the course of my four decades of life has demonstrated many things to me.  He demonstrated a tremendous work ethic, which has helped shape my life and the way I approach what I do with my time.  Because of his example, some of the energy I spend is dedicated to earning a living for me and my family, but also because of his example I invest time in causes that are greater than our existence.  People sometimes ask me why I invest time in so many things outside of my immediate benefit.  I can honestly point back to my fathers’ example, who while he possessed a PHD and could have focused his entire career on simply earning a living – several times while I was growing up, I witnessed him take lesser paying jobs to participate in an issue that he believed in.

My father also demonstrated the importance of family, in the hard times as well as the good times.  He was blessed with my mother, who also was committed to this effort.  I am not going to list all the difficult times, but there were times, like the death of my brother, that I know applied a lot of stress on our family, and through it all – we remained intact.  This is a testimony to both of my parents.  I have also witnessed my father contribute to extended family in ways that were not required, but he did – because that is the kind of man he is.

Closing my thoughts on my father, I know that in large respect I am the way I am because of his example and the role model he has been for my life.  I also recognize that in large part, he lives his life the way he does due to the impact his father had on his life – especially the example of work-ethic and importance of family, including extended family.  During the great depression, my dad’s dad, my grandfather welcomed the entire extended family (three sisters, their husbands, etc.) return to “the home-place” to live.  They survived together during the hard times – a very large extended family – living off the land, each one contributing.

When I think about our republic today, and the many crisis’s we face, and reflect on Fathers’ Day, I am greatly saddened, because many kids today are growing up without fathers, and without the type of examples I outlined above.  I had a hard time getting current statistics, so these numbers are likely to actually be worse.  Here are a few statistics (If you get tired of the statistics, please skip to the bottom, to see my closing thoughts):

·         According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. Source: National Center for Fathering, Fathering in America Poll, January, 1999.
·         An estimated 24.35 million children (33.5 percent) live absent their biological father.  Source: Krieder, Rose M. and Jason Fields. Living Arrangements of Children 2001. Current Population Reports, p. 70-104. Table 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005
·         Of students in grades 1 through 12, 39 percent (17.7 million) live in homes absent their biological fathers. Source: Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers' and Mothers' Involvement in their Children's Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. Table 1. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, DC: U.S. Dept of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, 2001.
·         Sixty-three percent of black children, 35% of Hispanic children, and 28% of white children are living in homes absent their biological father. Source: Krieder, Rose M. and Jason Fields. Living Arrangements of Children 2001. Current Population Reports, p. 70-104. Table 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.
·         The 1997 Gallup Youth Survey found the following among U.S. teens:
33 % live away from their father
43% of urban teens live away from their father Source: Youthviews, Gallup Youth Survey 4 (June, 1997).
·         50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children.
·         63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [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. [Center for Disease Control]
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]
  • Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers.  [US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]
Children from fatherless homes are:
  • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
  • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls, of course),
  • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
  • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
  • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
  • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
  • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
  • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.

As we celebrate fathers’ day, an institution that I think should be celebrated, I could not help but reflect that as a nation, we continually look to higher levels of government to fix our problems.  Government cannot fix this problem – fatherlessness.  Indeed, there are government programs in place that actually exacerbate this problem. 

In my opinion, we will not be able to turn our republic around, if we don’t reverse this terrible trend.  I know it is complicated, and the thoughts toward solutions are too lengthy to write in a simple blog.  Perhaps the most important thing we can do this fathers’ day, is to commit to praying for an end of this scourge of fatherlessness that has plagued our land.  It surely is having a deadly impact on our republic and way of life, and this subject is worthy of our prayers, and effort.

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