“Dad is destiny. More than virtually any other factor, a biological father’s presence in the family will determine a child’s success and happiness.”*1
In 1995 when this quote appeared in a popular news magazine, 68 percent of black children and 30 percent of all children in America were being born outside of marriage, which typically translates into this scenario: single mothers as primary caregivers and absentee biological fathers.
These words are hard on the ears. Especially because so many children are being raised solo by mothers. These are loving, devoted, smart, gifted, hard-working, and entrepreneurial women. Some of them are my dearest friends. They feel their vulnerability and lack, even with strong support systems intact, and they often experience the lonely and empty void where an engaged father once participated. Nevertheless, we must face the cruel facts of fatherlessness.
If we fast forward 20 years to 2015, here’s an update on the fruit of fatherlessness.
20 million children in the U.S. are living in a fatherless home, making it an epidemic…and the negative implications are dizzying:
- Fatherless families are 4X more likely to be raised in poverty
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are fatherless
- Fatherless children are 10X more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 71% of all adolescent substance abusers come from a fatherless home
- 80% of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes
- Fatherless kids are 2X more likely to commit suicide
- Fatherless children experience more accidents and a higher rate of chronic asthma, headaches, and speech defects
- Fatherless kids are 9X more likely to drop out of school
- Fatherless children are more likely to score lower than the norm in reading and math
- 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes
- 70% of men incarcerated in U.S. prisons never had a relationship with their natural fathers
- Fatherless kids are 11X more likely to display violent behavior
- 60% of rapists were raised in fatherless homes
- Fatherless kids are 20% more likely to be incarcerated
- Kids raised in a home without a biological father are 9X more likely to be raped or sexually abused *2
AND THE KICKER….70% of teen pregnancies occur in fatherless homes…powerfully perpetuating this cycle of troubling, even disastrous societal trends.
As we can see from these numbers, Dad not only determines the fate of his own family, but the impact from his choices in fathering for good or bad will be felt like an earthquake, reverberating out his front door and into the streets of our communities.
In my opinion, a father carries an authority that is natural, inherent, just because they’re Daddy. A blessing bestowed upon them.
There is a commanding influence with which God has equipped Dad for the immense role he is to play in the life of his family. When Dad simply lives life amongst his kids, there is power.
I appeal to women, don’t despise your husbands, the father of your children. Even if you’re divorced from the man, and his glaring flaws and bad decisions keep you up at night, my advice is this: don’t tear them down, trash them, shame them, dissect them, and expose their ‘nakedness’ to your children. Your actions and words may feel good to you for the moment; you may seem justified, but you are driving an irreparable chasm between the kids and their Dad. And, you are further damaging your precious children! Our culture encourages this behavior in women and it is diabolical. Leave room for God, for time, for circumstances to play out. Pray and believe for healing, revealing and restoration.
Moms, remember this, you can do a lot, but you can’t take the place of a father.
In recent decades, we’ve watched the role of Anemic Dad played out in too many television sitcoms to list here! Not to mention the innumerable insipid characters stumping as the impotent heads of households, advertising everything from pain medication to laundry soap. These castrated men limp along to the drumbeat of their aggressive, decisive, and very capable wives. In each instance, Mom is running the show. These homes are dysfunctional and out of order, and a horrific model for the next generation.
In my opinion, fathers have super powers! A capacity for the mission they’ve been given – men are not the bumbling idiots media has portrayed them to be unless they decide to degenerate to those low levels.
I would beg you fathers, don’t settle for merely built-in clout, but take advantage of your God-given assets and wildly enhance them with all of your strength and passion as you engage with the children God has given you. Be the world-changer you are called to be, and your children will sky-rocket from your broad shoulders of strong leadership into the galaxies beyond.
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*1 U.S. New and World Report 2/27/1995
*2 http://fathers.com/wp39/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fatherlessInfographic.pdf National Center for Fathering