Fathers


“I came to understand that the hole a man leaves
when he abandons his responsibility to his children

 is one that no government can fill. 

"We can do everything possible to provide
good jobs and good schools and
safe streets for our kids,

but it will never be enough
to fully make up the difference.”  

         (President Barack Obama)
2009 Father’s Day piece in Parade Magazine



Fatherless Children
  • Regrettably, some children do not have fathers living with them, due to death, divorce or abandonment.  Other fathers are present, but emotionally absent, inattentive, or non-supportive. 

  • The social and emotional consequences of fatherless children are devastating.  Children without fathers (who are actively involved and caring fathers) are at greater risk for a lot of problems—like drug and alcohol abuse, premarital sex, out-of-wedlock births, child abuse, sexual abuses, teen suicide, high school dropouts, emotional illness, behavioral disorders, living in poverty and homelessness, gang membership and juvenile delinquency and imprisonment.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201106/the-decline-fatherhood-and-the-male-identity-crisis
  • Our prisons are full of men and women who have lived recklessly after being abandoned by their fathers. 
  • Most of the social problems of our society emanate from children whose fathers are not there.  Boys who do not have a good model in their home are more likely to embrace what they see on TV or what they see their friends doing.  Even if fathers keep in touch after a breakup, children still suffer. 

  • Children need frequent contact with both parents to successfully navigate developmental stages as they grow. 

    But, that is not everyone's story.  You can have no father in your life and still win record numbers of gold medals, like Michael Phelps, or grow up to be the president of the United States like Barack Obama; however, strong ties to Dad give kids real advantages. 

  • Children having children is our greatest social problem—and the child pays the price.

  • Involved fathers provide practical support in raising children and serve as models for their development.  Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.  Committed and responsible fathering during infancy and early childhood contributes emotional security, curiosity, and math and verbal skills."  (Department of Health and Human Services, 2013)
  • "Fathers must set a good example for their sons and be actively involved in their lives.  Youth males join gangs because, without a father to guide and protect them, they seek physical protection from human predators, as well as ratification of their masculinity from the gang. 
A counselor at a juvenile detention facility in California told the Patriot Post, "(If) you find a gang member who comes from a complete nuclear family, I'd like to meet him...I don't think that kid exists."  A full 85% of youths in prison come from fatherless homes, as do 80% of rapists, 71% of high school dropouts and 63% of teens who commit suicide." 

The single most important variable (in 'gang centrality') is the family's structure...The greater the number of parents in the household, the lower the reported gang centrality."  (Institute for Marriage and Public Policy)  ("Broken Homes Lead to Crime," Mona Charen, columnist for Creators Syndicate, March 2012)



Divorce
  • Families run best with two parents, and when the husband and wife are united.  Divorce is a big barrier to fathers being involved with their children, because it becomes difficult to parent without the support of the mother. The marriage relationship is also vitally important to creating a family unit, which many young people today are growing up without.  When the husband/wife relationship breaks down, so does the parenting.  
  • Fatherhood is far more than a mere title or role that you play—it is the work that you do in your home with your children.  The result of that work goes both ways—you will enjoy the love of your children, and your children will feel secure and loved by you.    

Statistics
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures
33% of American children are growing up without their biological father.  
25% of the children in this country have little or no contact with their fathers.  
40% of children of divorced women haven’t seen their father in at least a year.  
40% of babies are born to unwed mothers.   
70% of imprisoned U.S. minors have spent at least a part of their lives fatherless.  
  • More than 2 million American kids have a parent in prison (2012), and many more than that have had a parent (most often a father) in jail at some point.  Parental incarceration disrupts the lives of children and often leads to forced misplacement to different caregivers.  The kids are more likely to be in poverty, to see parental substance abuse, perform poorly at school, have mental health and substance abuse issues, and exhibit problem behaviors.  (The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse which tracks pertinent statistics http://www.fatherhood.gov/library/dad-stats)
  • Single fathers make up nearly 1 in 4 single parents, but single mothers remain much more common.  Single fathers tend to be younger, poorer and less educated than married ones.  They fare better financially than single mothers, though, even though they are less likely than single mothers to have gone to college.  Among single fathers, 41% are living with an unmarried partner.  Although fathers are spending more time with their children than in the past, they still spend much less time on average than mothers do.  ("Single-dad households each record," by Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2013) 

  • Many children are growing up without the love and influence of a father.  85% of adolescents who grew up without a father, say they would choose to have two parents who are committed to them, and won’t abandon them.  Children are happier knowing their parents love each other.

    Project Save Our Children is a new federal program aimed at tracking down deadbeat parents
    who now collectively owe more than $100 billion in child support in our country.  While many have fallen on hard times and cannot afford payments, others are simply trying to avoid providing the basic support their children deserve.  (NBC's Today Show, Jan. 18, 2012)  
  • Boys from fatherless families are twice as likely to end up in prison before age 30; and girls raised in homes without fathers are much more likely to engage in early sexual behavior and end up pregnant.  These children are more likely to experience depression, behavioral problems and school expulsion.  ("Dan Quayle was Right," Barbara Whitehead, The Atlantic, April 1993) 
What Fathers Can Do
  • Some men are married, and some are single fathers, foster fathers, and step fathers.  You can still do your best in a difficult role, with love and patience.  Remember, even Christ was raised by his foster father, Joseph. 

  • Learn good fathering skills, such as patience, consistency, communication and commitment.  Despite any limitations you feel you have, continue to try every day to be a better father.  Be interested in what your children are doing.  Listen to and teach your children, play with them, be a good example, teach them to be honest, teach them to have integrity.  Learning how to be a good father can be found in mainstream religion, from which you can reinforce those values in your home. 
  • There are 4 ways a man's health affects his offspring.  A fathers lifestyle may have far more effect on a child's health than doctors originally believed. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found, that there are 4 ways a man's health affects his offspring:

    1)  Kids of older fathers (40 and older) have higher rates of schizophrenia, autism, and birth defects.
    2)  Your dad's diet impacts how you react to food.
    3)  A dad who smokes may cause DNA damage.
    4) An alcoholic father raises the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome and developmental difficulties, as three quarters of babies with fetal alcohol problems had fathers who were alcoholics.  Researchers found there are four ways a man's health affects his offspring:

    Fertility specialists say men are not immune to reproductive aging.  A man's lifestyle, age, and genetics can play just as significant a role in the health of a baby as the mother's health.  Dads lifestyle linked to kids' health issues,  ("Influence of paternal preconception exposures on their offspring: through epigenetics to phenotype," American Journal of Stem Cells, April 2016)

  • Break the chain of destructive patterns and foolish traditions in your family's history.  If you struggle to cope with the pain, rejection and anger in a relationship with your own father, ask for help to heal and move on in life. 

    Regardless of how you were raised,
    what your father did not do for you, or whether your parents did or did not abuse you, you must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else.  Show your children that you love them.  Be kind and gentle, and control your anger.  Touch them, hug them, and tell them you love them.

    Never raise your hand in anger against your children.  Children who grow up scared of their abusive fathers are left with diminished self-worth.  Discipline and correct your children when necessary, but never with abuse; instead, show an increase of love, so your children do not develop a fear of you.   

    Whenever you use timeout, be sure your children understand that you love them unconditionally; but that you do not love what they just did, and that it is because of your love for them that you want them to do better.  Bottom line:  Do everything that you do with love.  Make sure your love is genuine and sincere. 
Pay attention to those around you.  There are parents who discipline their children with love.  There are good, healthy marriages that you can learn from.  You can learn from these people and break the cycle of abuse. 

See Strengthening the Family, including Parenting, Children & Teens, Media use, and more on this site. 
  • Make a commitment to be actively involved in the lives of your children.  Fathers who have been absent in the lives of their children can choose to change and have an influence on their children.  Look for ways to spend time with them. Fathers are very important in the development of their children’s physical, emotional, and behavioral health.  Children want to know who their father is, and where he is. 

  • Be a protector and a provider for your children.  Your children's confidence increases just by knowing their father is available, when needed.  To be good dad, just being there is half the battle. 

    Non-custodial fathers can help their children by investing in them financially, so that other issues like poverty and hunger do not interfere with their development.  Of course, it is also important to be involved as much as possible in their lives. 
  • Spend more leisure time at home, day-to-day, with your children to bond with them.  According to research, the single greatest predictor of family cohesion, family adaptability and overall family functioning is when a father is involved in quality leisure activities surrounding the home, such as... 

    • Eating meals together
    • Playing board games
    • Watching TV and movies
    • Playing sports in the yard/park
    • Playing video games
    • Attending children's performances
    • Gardening
    • Reading books
If fathers do not spend leisure time with their children, those activities done outside the home are not as effective in strengthening the family.  A family that has bonding experiences at home first will have them away from home.  It appears that it doesn't happen the other way around.  Activities away from home consist of
    • Eating out
    • Shopping
    • Sporting events
    • Vacations
    • Boating and fishing
    • Visiting the zoo
    • Camping
    • Hiking                                                  
      (Professor Allen Hawkins and Lydia Buswell, BYU School of Family Life)

  • Teach your family to live within the family income, and set aside money for unexpected expenses.  Don’t confuse wants with needs.  All children need to hear these words:  “We can’t afford it.”   Make all financial decisions jointly with your wife, considering each others’ feelings.   
  • Be fiercely faithful and loyal to your wife.  Love her and show that love, and make her welfare and self-esteem a high priority in your life.  That will strengthen your marriage and unite your family. 

    Whether parents are together or not, it is crucial that they support one another.  When parents are out of sync, the kids get mixed messages.  If one parent tries to undermine the other, it becomes stressful for the kids and weakens their footing.  If dad does not live with his kids, he needs to maintain a parenting role, not a pal role.   Kids need parents more than they need friends.  They also need consistency, so parents need to agree on things like homework and chores and rules, together or not.  When parents do not agree, model for the children how you are resolving the matter, so they learn that problems can be solved and agreement or compromise can be reached.  (Justin Dyer, BYU School of Family Life) 
  • Teach your sons to respect women.  Never tolerate disrespect from your children toward their mother.  Teach your sons to treat their sisters and women appropriately and with respect.   Teach your daughters to demand that kind of treatment from men throughout their lives.   (There are over 15,000 domestic violence calls made in Spokane each year.)  
  • Raise a happy, well-adjusted daughter by loving her mother.  By the way you love her mother, you will teach your daughter about tenderness, loyalty, respect, compassion and devotion.  She will learn from your example what to expect from young men and what qualities to seek in a future spouse.  You can show your daughter by the way you love and honor your wife, that she should never settle for less. 
  • Get to know the friends of your children.
  • Take time to find out what your children are being taught in school, and then correct any information or teaching you feel is false.  Never assume that public schools reinforce the moral and ethical teachings and values taught in your home.  
"When fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, their children learn more, perform better in school and exhibit healthier behavior.  Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact.  There are countless ways to be involved in your child's education at all ages.

"Children with highly involved fathers have increased mental dexterity,  more empathy, less stereotypical views of gender roles and better self control.  They are more curious and better able to solve problems.  A father's active involvement with his young children helps language and literacy development. 

"When noncustodial dads are very involved with their kids' learning, those kids are more likely to excel at all grade levels.  When dad doesn't live with his kids but sees them often and plays a big role in their education and lives, three things are more likely:  Fathers paying child support, custodial mothers being more educated, and custodial homes not experiencing financial difficulties."  (U.S. Dept. of Education and The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse which tracks pertinent statistics http://www.fatherhood.gov/library/dad-stats)
  • Teach your children everything you know.  Teach them to be honest, hardworking, generous, and respectful.  Work and play together.  Teach them about your life and the lessons you have learned.  Teach them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and premarital sex.  Read to them and encourage them in school.  Attend their school activities and recitals. Take your children on outings.  Have frequent one-on-one visits with them.  Teach them your values.  Encourage good music, art and literature in your home.  Tell each of your children you love them and are proud of them.  
  • Set a good example for your children, as they will observe your every word and action. 
Teach them to be honest and kind to others.
Teach them the importance of education and continued learning.
Teach them to obey the laws of the land.
Teach them to be responsible, work hard, and always do their best.
Teach them to avoid drugs and everything that is harmful to their bodies and minds.
Teach them to not view pornography or inappropriate entertainment. 
  • Guide your family and teach them to follow Christ.  Take your family to Church, and discuss how Joshua 24:15 applies to your family.  Religious training is very helpful to the whole family, and raising children.  Remember - your children will associate their relationship with you, with how they feel about God.  Even though they know intellectually that God is caring, fair, loving, kind, patient, and always there for them, it is hard for them to relate to God at a deep level if their own father is not that way.  Help your children connect with you as a person, not just an authority figure, by being kind, loving, and patient. 
  • When 100’s of prison inmates were asked, “What was it that brought you here as inmates of this penitentiary?”  Almost without exception, they answered, “We are here in the state penitentiary because there came a time in our lives when we were made to feel that nobody cared what happened to us.” 
  • Provide the necessities of life and protection for your family, allowing your wife to remain home to care for the children, if possible.
  • View the movie "Courageous," written and directed by Alex Kendrick, and share it with others.  A powerful movie which teaches men how to courageously step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of their children.  Men are motivated to walk with integrity, treat others with respect, love and protect their children, and help them become responsible men and women. 
  • Help love and mentor children who have no father in their lives, but desperately need help and direction.  The wonderful and often heroic efforts of grandparents, uncles, step-dads and adoptive fathers are so valuable to children whose biological fathers are not involved.  Children without fathers may ask, "If my father does not value me, if the person that created me, that is a part of me, doesn't value me, then am I worth anything at all?" 
  • The work you do outside of your home will never be as important as the life you live inside your home as a husband and father.  Put your family first.  Being a good father requires sacrifice. 

    When George Lucas, director (Star Wars), film maker, storyteller, writer, and technological innovator was asked what he wanted the first line of his obituary to say, he said he wanted to be remembered as, "I was a great dad, or trying to be."  Fathering means everything to George Lucas.  He adopted and raised 2 children as a single dad.  He left directing for 15 years to focus on being a father.  ("The Driving Force," interviewer Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning, December 15, 2015)

“One of the greatest things a father can do for his children
 is to
love their mother.” 
Local Organizations
Additional Resources
  • Fatherhood Initiative
The Spokane Fatherhood Initiative is working to see God's heart for fathers and families transform our culture. While this battle will be fought with strategies and programs, it will first be won on our knees. Come join us as we pray to bless Spokane and end fatherlessness in our region. Prayer is the 3rd Friday of the month at The Gathering House at 7 pm.

The Gathering House  - a Covenant Church & Cafe
733 W. Garland Ave.  99205
(509) 747-2818
Meetings:  Tuesdays
E-mail Mark Andresen marka@spofi.org for more information.
http://www.gatheringhouse.org  
Jobs training cafe during the week; church on Sunday.