Fathers and the Future of America
As a volunteer chaplain for our county's juvenile detention center, I asked this question about three hundred times over the course of about six years. I only recall two occasions where a young inmate told me that he had a good relationship with his father.
What was interesting to me was that in our county there really was no demographic consistency that you could point to that would explain youth crime. We had Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Economically, we had upper class, middle class and lower class (the rich youth would often steal, which was ironic). There were Christians (mainly), Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Atheist. They came from urban, suburban and rural settings. The only absolute consistency was that there was no healthy relationships with their fathers.
On Mother's Day, nearly all of the inmates would send cards to (and receive cards or letters from) their mothers and/or grandmothers. But Father's Day was simply a non-event.
Many never met their biological fathers. Many had abusive step-fathers, or lived with a revolving door of men coming in and out of their lives. Some lived with their fathers, but their dads were too preoccupied with work or other responsibilities to take time for them. The conclusion I reached, from my own observation, was that the lack of a father's guidance was the single-most dominant factor in juvenile crime.
The Influence of a Father
Some time back, I read a study in a news magazine, where school students were asked which academic subject was the most important. It turns out, surprisingly, that all of the students gave the exact same response! No, they didn't all choose the same subject in their answers, but the underlying reason for that choice was exactly the same. The most important academic subject that you could learn, according to school students, was whatever subject their father helped them with for homework. So if their father tutored them in Math, then Math was the most important subject. If Science, then the students said Science, and so on.
The reason for this is that children intuitively understand that their father has limited time, and if he is going to take his precious time and help a child learn something, it must be very important (at least in the mind of his child). This speaks to me of how important it is for us as fathers to be intentional about how we spend our time investing in our children.
Shortly after reading that report, I had a conversation with a man after church one Sunday who had three adult children. He proudly informed me, "Israel, over the years there was one thing that I made sure to impress upon my children. If there was one thing I really wanted them to embrace, and learn to love, it was sports! And they have! All of them are huge sports fans, just like me. They played all kinds of sports, we watched lots of sports on television, and even had season tickets to the local stadium games. Yep, they are now teaching their children to love sports as well."
While I recognize some of the benefits of organized sports, I had to wonder about the wisdom of promoting sports as such a high value in life. If a father has one chance to pass on values and beliefs to his children, he had better be mindful and selective with what he chooses to emphasize.
God Give Us Men!
As a young man, I grew up with a very limited fatherly influence. My parents divorced when I was six, and I saw my father only one weekend a month until I was fifteen, and then not at all. From six to fifteen, I lived with a physically abusive step-father. Today, I am a blessed father of nine children! By the grace of God, I have been able to break the cycle of abuse and dysfunction and my children are able to live in a peaceful home with two parents who love them.
I believe that when men turn their hearts to their wives and children, and commit to be godly servant-leaders in their own homes, we will see the beginning of the stabilization of society. Consider the many areas of society impacted by fatherless homes:
Read more HERE.
I strongly encourage churches and civic institutions to do everything they can to train, equip and encourage men to take seriously their roles as husbands and fathers. The future of our nation, in many ways, depends upon it (see Malachi 4:6 & Luke 1:17).
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- Children with Fathers who are involved are 40% less likely to repeat a grade in school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are 70% less likely to drop out of school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are more likely to get A's in school.
- Children with Fathers who are involved are more likely to enjoy school and engage in extracurricular activities.
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes – 10 times the average.
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
Father Factor in Crime – A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies. Moreover, students attending schools with a high proportion of children of single parents are also at risk. A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent
Father Factor in Child Abuse – Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect. The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.
Daughters of single parents without a Father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.
Adolescent girls raised in a 2 parent home with involved Fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved Fathers.
- 43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census]
- 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
- 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
- 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, "Dousing the Kindlers," Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
- 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God's Children]
- 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]
- 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]
- Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999]
Census Fatherhood Statistics
- 64.3 million: Estimated number of fathers across the nation
- 26.5 million: Number of fathers who are part of married-couple families with their own children under the age of 18.
Among these fathers –
- 22 percent are raising three or more of their own children under 18 years old (among married-couple family households only).
- 2 percent live in the home of a relative or a non-relative.
- 2.5 million: Number of single fathers, up from 400,000 in 1970. Currently, among single parents living with their children, 18 percent are men.
Among these fathers –
- 8 percent are raising three or more of their own children under 18 years old.
- 42 percent are divorced, 38 percent have never married, 16 percent are separated and 4 percent are widowed. (The percentages of those divorced and never married are not significantly different from one another.)
- 16 percent live in the home of a relative or a non-relative.
- 27 percent have an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
- 85 percent: Among the 30.2 million fathers living with children younger than 18, the percentage who lived with their biological children only.
- 11 percent lived with step-children
- 4 percent with adopted children
- < 1 percent with foster children
- Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
- Studies on parent-child relationships and child wellbeing show that father love is an important factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.
- 24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.
- Nearly 20 million children (27 percent) live in single-parent homes.
- 43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60 percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.
- Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not.
- Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.
- About 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father at all during the past year; 26 percent of absent fathers live in a different state than their children; and 50 percent of children living absent their father have never set foot in their father's home.
- Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.
- From 1995 to 2000, the proportion of children living in single-parent homes slightly declined, while the proportion of children living with two married parents remained stable.
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