This month, Oral-B released its “Power of Dad” commercial to celebrate the role fathers play in our lives. In American society today, it’s becoming ever more apparent that children do indeed need their fathers.
The Capital Youth Empowerment Program, Inc. works to strengthen families, calling families one of our most valuable resources. To shed light on the problem of fatherlessness, they state:
Studies have shown that children in America living in homes without fathers are 5 times more likely to live in poverty than children who live with both their mother and their father. Fatherless children are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop an emotional or behavioral problem requiring psychiatric treatment. Studies have shown that children who grow up without fathers also are more likely to commit crime, and do poorer in school. Perhaps most tragically of all, children who grow up fatherless also are more likely to commit suicide than those who grow up in a home with both their mother and father.
The Fatherless Generation blog also cites statistics concerning how the lack of a father can affect a child:
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.
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report).
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.
Indeed, when a father chooses not to be involved in his children’s lives, there are grave consequences. Of course, fatherhood starts in the womb. From the moment a new life comes into existence, a new father has been created. And fathers must accept responsibility for their children – planned or not planned.
While it is particularly important for the pro-life movement to reach out to fathers who want to stop their girlfriends or wives from getting abortions, it is also important for us to reach out to men in general and encourage them to make the choice to be active fathers. We often encourage good health, medical visits, and adequate care for pregnant mothers – as well we should. But we must take care not to neglect encouraging equal responsibility on the part of fathers, from the time their children are in their mothers’ wombs.
Granted, many pregnancy resource centers do an excellent job of offering parenting classes to mothers and fathers. They reach out to the men and women who have just become parents and often are able to pair them with mentors or offer other help. This is excellent and much-needed work.
We must encourage more pregnancy centers to have an active and advertised program for fathers. We must encourage more pro-life men to volunteer and reach out to the new fathers in their own communities, high schools, colleges, and workplaces. Men need other men to stand beside them as they are molded and shaped into the fathers they must become for the sakes of their children.
As Oral-B’s beautiful commercial celebrates, good fathers are there with their children at the important moments of their lives. They are there for their births, their graduations, their weddings – and all the “little” important moments in between. As we celebrate fathers during the month of June, I am reminded of the great example of fathers around me who chose to be a father to their own children; the fathers who accepted responsibility; the fathers who viewed their children as the precious gifts they are.
I am reminded of my husband’s friend, who chose to be a father to his wife’s daughter. He may not be the biological father, but he is that precious little girl’s daddy; he is the one who cares for her as a father should. He made the choice to take an active role in her life, and it will make all the difference.
I am reminded of one of my best friends whose husband chose to marry her and help her raise their son, despite the fact that he was unplanned and they were unmarried at the time. Her husband had little money and wasn’t “ready” to be a father. He had his own dreams to pursue, yet he put them on hold so that he could choose to care for his son and be a responsible father.
I am reminded of a man from outside the U.S. who wrote me because his girlfriend wanted to abort their second child. He was trying desperately to convince her to give life to their child. This man did not give up, and although his girlfriend is shutting him out of her life right now, her plan is currently to keep the baby. This man is a real father – one who did not give his child’s life up easily.
Let us take time to celebrate the great fathers that we know, and let us also take time to motivate more men to make the choice to be a great father. Any man can be a great father. And any man becomes a father as soon as his child comes into existence within her mother’s womb.
As a pro-life movement, let us work to raise up a generation of children with fathers who are active, involved, and responsible.