It was June 1910, Washington. The first official Father’s Day was being celebrated. Apparently, according to today’s standards, they had been through a century of backwards gender stereotypes and roles perpetuated in American society. Yet it was only a year before that a young lady named Sonora Smart Dodd acted as a catalyst for the tradition we hold today, as she set aside a day to honour her dad who had lost his wife and fought in the Civil War.
On reflection, I myself as a young man in a family of eight with a father and mother who have raised me diligently, have particularly noticed the importance of what a faithful dad can achieve as a role model. Yet it seems in an ever hyper-sexualised, individualised and culturally depraved world, we have rejected the traditional nature of how men should act in a family setting, and now praise fatherlessness and neglect its consequences.
Our culture has rejected traditional values of faithfulness, and now not only acknowledges divorce and adultery, but celebrates it. As a society, we have reaped what we have sown. Fatherlessness is the biggest issue facing us today. Here are some reasons — based on research from fathers.com — as to why we must regain a true value and virtue of fathers who stay at home and remain as lifelong committed role models to the family.
Poverty. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. Further, children living in female-headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent, over 4 times the rate in married-couple families.
Drug and alcohol abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.” What’s more, there is significantly more drug use among children who do not live with their mother and father.
Physical and emotional health. A study of 1,977 children age 3 and older living with a residential father or father figure found that children living with married biological parents had significantly fewer externalising and internalising behavioural problems than children living with at least one non-biological parent. Further, children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.
Education. Children in grades 7-12 who have lived with at least one biological parent, youth that experienced divorce, separation, or non-union birth reported lower grade point averages than those who have always lived with both biological parents. Children living with their married biological father tested at a significantly higher level than those living with a non-biological father.
Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s. This was true for those with fathers in biological-parent families, stepfathers, or fathers heading single-parent families.
71% of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills; children from father-absent homes are more likely to be truant from school, more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood.
Crime. Adolescents living in intact families are less likely to engage in delinquency than their peers living in non-intact families. Compared to peers in intact families, adolescents in single-parent families and step-families were more likely to engage in delinquency. This relationship appeared to be operating through differences in family processes — parental involvement, supervision, monitoring, and parent child closeness — between intact and non-intact families.
A study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health explored the relationship between family structure and risk of violent acts in neighbourhoods. The results revealed that if the number of fathers is low in a neighbourhood, there is an increase in acts of teen violence. The statistical data showed that a 1% increase in the proportion of single-parent families in a neighbourhood is associated with a 3% increase in an adolescent’s level of violence. In other words, adolescents who live in neighbourhoods with lower proportions of single-parent families and who report higher levels of family integration commit less violence.
Children age 10 to 17 living with two biological or adoptive parents were significantly less likely to experience sexual assault, child maltreatment, other types of major violence, and non-victimization type of adversity, and were less likely to witness violence in their families compared to peers living in single-parent families and step-families.
A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.
Sexual activity and teen pregnancy. A study using a sample of 1409 rural southern adolescents (851 females and 558 males) aged 11–18 years, investigated the correlation between father absence and self-reported sexual activity. The results revealed that adolescents in father-absence homes were more likely to report being sexually active compared to adolescents living with their fathers.
Being raised by a single mother raises the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.
Real Fathers Stay
Likewise, African-American academic Larry Elder has pointed to the social inequities faced by the African-American community to be the increased fatherless rate. Currently, they face a 75% birth out of wedlock rate, compared to a 25% rate in the white community in America. It is no wonder crime, poverty and educational disparities have been extended between these groups. Elder ends with a sobering conclusion to reject economic incentives for women to raise children by themselves, and press forward the moral responsibility for men to stay with their children.
Even America’s most progressive President has acknowledged these conservative necessities, as Barack Obama has powerfully noted the significance of fathers:
“But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioural problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”
We must flee from any standard that seeks to portray men and fathers as something that is relative, easily left and fundamentally inconsequential. Instead, we should turn away from what is evil, and love what is good, by promoting faithful fathers who stay at home through thick and thin. These marriages are what hold the family unit, and ultimately society together. Psalm 127 offers a joyful reminder to those leading their families:
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame.
[Photo by Gift Habeshaw