The National Fatherhood Initiative website begins with this sobering message:
Many people are surprised at what research shows with respect to the connection between father absence and an increase in social problems in America, including poverty, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, physical abuse, suicide, substance and alcohol abuse and a host of other troubling social problems. The sad fact is that not only does father absence hurt children, fathers suffer as well.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of every three – live in biological father-absent homes. Nine in ten American parents agree this is a “crisis.” The statistics reveal that almost every social issue facing America is impacted by the “father factor.”
Here is a summary of the statistics:
- Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.
- Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds for incarceration.
- Children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.
- A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.
- Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly A’s.
There are more statistics, but the picture is clear – fathers have a significant role in the future of our nation. How can the Church make a difference in these statistics? I want to suggest what I believe will help the most. The Church needs to preach and teach the biblical truth on the subject of the family.
The answer to the father absence crisis is to stop creating babies who will not have a father. And women are as accountable in this problem as men. The crisis needs to be addressed from the beginning. Often, babies created outside of a marriage covenant are forced to live with the label, “unplanned” or “unwanted.” How sad for a child to be handed that self-image!
God wants the best for all of his children. His rules about sex and marriage are designed to provide us with nurturing families and protect us from the difficult consequences this world can produce. Everyone can help. Fathers can stay the course and help raise their children. Parents can teach their children to respect their authority and expect their love and discipline. Young people can choose to wait until they have entered a marriage and built a family before they make a child. Grandparents can invest time and interest in their children’s lives – assuming a supportive role.
Schools need Christian tutors to help children with after-school programs. Teams need Christian coaches who will teach character strength as well as the game. Parents need to be more concerned their children know how to be a friend rather than whether or not their child is socially popular. And everyone has a neighbor who needs to be loved, even when they act unlovable.
America needs Christian fathers, Christian mothers, and Christian missionaries to change our culture. Truthfully, there is no such thing as an absent father, spiritually. Everyone has a Father in heaven who loves them. God wants to lead, guide, support, encourage and teach all of his children. Usually it is easier for children to believe they have a heavenly Father who loves them if they have an earthly father who teaches them that.
Pray for the men of our nation, and for the women. The most important thing we could do for our culture is to help strengthen the family structure. Everyone needs a father and everyone needs the Father. Christians can help. Will you?