He’s the guy you took the time to make babies with. He’s the fellow your kids call dad. If you’re lucky, you still call him darling and in today’s world, that ain’t bad.
Too many families are missing their daddies and when you see the data, you understand why single parenting is the center of crisis in homes today.
I’m guessing most readers know about this first hand. Even if nothing can be done for your world, maybe your influence can change the lives of other family members. With Father’s Day coming up, this is a significant time to revisit this catastrophic problem.
I’ve been in a home without a dad. My parents divorced when I was a teen. His absence was tangible; penetrating. “Father hunger” touches every part of a child’s life and most never get over it. It cannot be shrugged away. It saturates the DNA.
And now, a growing trend trumps divorce: The importance of marriage is being erased. In a recent column, I’ve pointed out how more and more couples choose not to marry before bringing life into the world. Some, of course, assume that they’ll get married some day. But now we know: Barely 10 percent ever follow through. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this is especially true among “urban” couples — those living in metropolitan areas — and, well, the kids are left treading water in the vacuum.
Research consistently shows that “a married mother-and-father family is a better environment for raising children than the cohabitating (living together) mother-and-father family.”
So ladies, if your children have a good dad, you’ll want to hold onto him the best you can. Even just a pretty good one will do; a man who is there, who cares; who provides masculine influence, time and love. Even those who are absent due to work or military deployment, carry huge influence, because home is also dad’s home.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports active dads play an irreplaceable role beginning with the child’s sense of self. It reports “boys with involved fathers have fewer school behavior problems and the girls stronger self-esteem.” Their “grades are better; they avoid drugs, violence and other delinquent behavior.” Once in the work place, they make more money. And a father who treats his wife well is the ultimate — a valuable role model. What a deal. Yes, a dad, married to his child’s mother, does all that for a kid (read more at www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuels/fatherhood/chaptertwo.cfm).
Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the USDHHS says, “It may be because these couples receive very little encouragement to marry from the health and social services professionals with whom they come in contact.”
That’s no surprise. Government family service is where dad got the boot in the first place, when Big Brother took over with indiscriminate handouts.
Media helps out by promoting “free love” and disregarding marriage, while more churches timidly back away from age old teachings on the sanctity of marriage. I suppose it’s better to fill the pews each Sunday and collect the tithes. For the most part, what we have left is role modeling; family influence. Thus it seems only the lucky kids will get on-the-job dads.
We’re so intent on loosening restraints within our social and moral structures that we’re steadily losing one-half of a whole. And there they sit: mothers shouldering unfathomable burdens and children carrying the sorrows of their birth parents’ ignorance. It’s a crime, a major social crime against families.
Making a family work well is hard stuff, but finding a good man and marrying him before making babies is one of the wisest things a woman can do. Don’t settle. Your kids deserve a full-time dad, which in truth, is good for mom, too.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.