Several years ago, my wife, son, and I were driving down the road headed to church. I looked at Eli in the rearview mirror and made a funny face. My little mini me was only four at the time. Eli looked back at me through the mirror, got a big smile on his face and said, “Daddy, you’re my Superman. You can do anything.”
I about had a head on collision due to the inability to see because of the tears in my eyes. Pride flowed heavy from my soul that day.
Moving forward to my daughter who is now five years old. In these first precious years with my beautiful little girl, we have what we call, “The Princess Chair.” It’s where she lays in my lap with my arms wrapped around her, her head up to mine and whisper, “No matter what, you’ll always be daddy’s little princess.” She grins as wide as the Grand Canyon, nuzzles her head in my chest, and we snuggle for a moment.
Two years ago she began saying something that has me absolutely wrapped around her little pinky. Multiple times a days she now says, “Daddy you are my prince and I will never leave you.”
Now, I’m not about to correct her and say, “No, baby girl, you’re my daughter so that makes me your King.” She can think prince until she is at least 37 years old. Because we dads all know that when 37 hits and another man (prince) comes into her life, he will have to go through the most ferocious trial by fire before I let my little girl out of the Princess Chair.
I pray that I can always be the dad that God desires me to be. My kids and I have a fantastic relationship for which I am super thankful. One element that has created this blessed bond with my children is because of the investment into their lives immediately after birth and on a daily basis. God gets all the glory. While my bride, Brittany, is a rock star mom, I don’t believe that mommy is to raise the children while daddy just brings in the dough and picks up later in life like we often see in our country.
The words I am going to communicate could sting for some that are reading. My intent is not to come across judgmental in any way, but instead to inspire a generation of Fathers to have a raised awareness to this statement:
“Your greatest legacy will not be in your career or hobby, but instead will be the one you leave under your roof.”
Raising, training, investing, and making your child a priority begins at conception.
Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
My heart breaks for the mass absence of fathers in our community, country, and world. Through 18 years of Student Ministry, I have spoken with hundreds of teenagers struggling with the flood of emotions that come from dad not being involved in their lives.
Some of the issues I’ve dealt with over the years are:
- Young ladies filling the void of the absence father with the need to always have a boyfriend around their arm and the sexual consequences as a result.
- Young ladies continuing to be with guys who treat them badly because they can’t truly grasp that they were created to be honored, valued, loved, and respected. Thus experiencing consequences of dad not being in the home to express these significant aspects to her.
- Young ladies with self inflicting pain issues like cutting as well as self image issues such as eating disorders all with the main culprit being dads not being around to bring her the relationship she needs that conveys the message of how precious she is just the way she was created.
- Numerous young men sharing that their dads never make time for them and how they cry themselves to sleep over it.
- Countless other issues with drinking problems, drug use, sexual abuse, confused identities, emotional distress, uncooperative kids, violence, and underachieving.
The issues are ongoing and many readers will be able to relate in some way.
What is unfortunate is that we are also dealing with dads that are right there in the home, but are not involved in their child’s life.
One 17 yr old girl who also has a 15 yr old sister once told me, “Our dad makes no time for us. I just want to hang out with him. Anytime we ask him to do anything he says he is too busy and gives us money. I don’t want his money…I want him. My little sister cries almost every day about something related to him. Have we been that bad that he doesn’t want to spend time with us?”
When I think about the masses of children in our area alone that I have had contact with without fathers in their lives, it can be mind boggling. So what about nationwide? According to the U.S Census Bureau’s Family and Living Arrangements reports, there are approximately 24 million children in single parent homes. Not all are without fathers in their lives, but what recent reports are showing is that approximately 2 out of every 5 children are now going to bed without a father in their life.
I strongly believe that growing up without a father consistently involved in their children lives is one of if not the main root causes of the social dilemma our country is experiencing.
- 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. (Center for Disease Control)
- 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.)
- The growing divorce rate magnifies the trend of fatherless families. About 40% of kids whose parents are divorced have not seen their father in at least a year. Ten years after divorce, more than two-thirds of those living with their mother haven’t seen their father for a year.
We see the evidence all across the country. Boys and Girls with consistently active dads are more ambitious, more successful in school, attend college more often, and are more likely to attain careers of their own. They are less dependent, more self-protective, and less likely to get into harmful relationships.
Now, I realize that not all dads not involved in their kid’s lives are neglectful, but instead have rare circumstances causing him not to be able to be in the picture. I also realize there are many neglectful mothers. That is not my focus today, instead my focus is on the child hurting and crying out in negative ways due to the void of a father in their lives.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
While in my outrage emotional state, I almost wish there were laws that gave strict consequences for parents checking out on their kids. In my protective emotional state, I want to personally go to each one and ring their necks. In my Dream Big emotional state, I want to create a nation-wide program to help the prodigal father.
In all reality, right now I am in an extremely burdened spiritual state that turns my attention towards the victims. While it would be great to help the fathers come back to their responsibility as a parent, I believe the greater need is with those kids and single mothers. Let’s not lose hope in those fathers and continue to love them as Jesus does.
So what can each of us do today and every day?
a. As God burdens our hearts for these children, may we find time to fall on our knees asking God to wrap his loving arms of security, protection, and provision over them. Ask for our hearts to be sensitive to the Lord to discover way ways that our families can help these young men and young ladies.
a. Seek for people in the church and community whom can to connect with these young people to provide spiritual and life training and encouragement. It is vital for the young boys and girls to be connected with a same gender mentor who can teach them value, significance and what a Godly young person looks like.
b. For the single mother, may we as a church be available to provide love, resources, encouragement, assistance, and help.
c. For the step-dad may we encourage him in his role and help raise his awareness to the great responsibility that God now has him in. Help him understand the emotions and actions that could potentially be displayed by his new step-children.
d. Student Ministries: Take the time, investment, recruitment, and training to provide a safe haven for these students. Be proactive in connecting them with mentors that will check on them, hang out with them, and be available. Be constant and consistent for them. Be proactive in communicating how much God loves and values them.
It is my prayer that this blog would spur you on to be a part of the solution and just be frustrated with the facts. I pray you will be compelled to be proactive in helping provide solutions for this global tragedy.
SPECIAL NOTE TO DADS EXPERIENCING THIS STRUGGLE:
If you’re a father reading this that hasn’t been involved in your child’s life, you can make things right. I believe in you and know you can overcome the obstacles you’ve encountered. Not alone, but with the Lords help. Take a moment to just try, humble yourself, and understand the chaos this has caused your child. Take all the steps you can to express your love to them and ask for their forgiveness. Please don’t fall into the temptation of getting angry or frustrated when they don’t want anything to do with you as you make these attempts. Realize that it will take time and may never be what you desire it to be. Be responsible for you only, man up, and do the right thing. Work on you and get you right. Get plugged into a church that can help you get your life on the right track and make the transition to doing what is Biblically right as a father.
ENCOURAGING NOTE TO ACTIVE DADS:
Those of you fathers connected with your children, involved in their lives and doing your best to disciple your child…thank you! Your investment into your child’s life is priceless. God Bless you and I pray you continue to seek the Lords direction for your family.
There are many more statistics, problems, results, and help that could be written about and there are thousands of others books articles, and blogs that help with this as well. My greatest desire in writing this is to ask you to pray fervently with me for these young people negatively influenced and to strive to be a part of the solution. God Bless you and thank you!