Two generations without fathers in whole segments of our society have taught us a lot
By Larry Fedewa, Ph.D.
(Washington DC, June 9,2022) Cedarwood Stables is the name of the Fedewa horse farm. We have a small staff of horse lovers who care for our horses on a daily basis. They are mostly youngsters in their first job, as many consider careers in the equestrian industry as veterinarians, trainers, jockeys, or other specialties. For the most part they are high school seniors or college students on their summer break from school. This means that we experience a significant shuffle of personnel at the end of the school year (graduation) and the end of the summer. So, we usually drop an ad in the right places during the summer.
You can imagine my surprise when one of the respondents was a building contractor who came for an interview with his 12-year-old daughter. He explained that his daughter had expressed interest in horses, but he didn’t know anything about horses. So, when he saw our ad, he thought this job would be a great way to gain an understanding and familiarity with horses without having to make a financial investment. Since his daughter, Tatum, was too young to become an employee herself, he decided to take a minimum wage job with limited hours and learn how to work with horses while at the same time his daughter could learn right alongside him. I was very impressed by this father’s dedication to his daughter. I immediately accepted his offer and went on to watch his enthusiastic participation in our training sessions and the progress his little daughter made as she worked with Dad and horses.
This Dad gave the most generous gift to his child that was available to him. One could see his daughter’s self-confidence and sharp intelligence and all the evidence that she would continue to develop into a strong and loving woman.
No one needs to tell Tatum that fathers are needed.
Unfortunately, ‘There is a crisis in America,” according to the U. S. Census Bureau (2020 Report), “19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal ills facing America today. Research shows when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is affected in the following ways:
- 4x greater risk of poverty
- 7x more likely to become pregnant as a teen
- More likely to have behavior problems, face abuse and neglect,
- More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
- More likely to commit a crime and go to prison
- 2x more likely to suffer obesity,
- 2x more likely to drop out of school
- 2x more likely to suffer infant mortality.”
Equally distressing is the adult population which have fatherless family backgrounds. They constitute many of the crowds which today threaten our society, from impaired health to impaired lives – the homeless, the imprisoned, the rioters, the ill, the suicides, and the shooters.
The economic impact of this breakdown of the family as an American institution is enormous. The first and foremost goal of every individual American and every institution as well as our secular religion is freedom – personal freedom and social freedom. There are two aspects to freedom: freedom from and freedom for. We work hard to attain a measure of freedom from illness, ignorance, oppression, and poverty, in order to achieve freedom for opportunities and ultimately some measure of happiness – or, as the Constitution puts it: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
How tragic it is, then, for so many of our children to grow to adulthood with all the handicaps of a broken family. They are burdened with enormous obstacles to a successful life through no fault of their own, through anti-social customs into which they were born, and which surround them as they seek to survive. Their tragedy also burdens the rest of us who suffer from the lack of their talents and efforts and who instead must support them with our own labor and earning power.
Father’s Day is meant to be a recognition of the value of each of our fathers to us as individuals and as members of a family. It is also the day to remember those to whom fatherhood is strange and unknown. It is a day to look at our own fatherhood, at our sons and daughters, and take stock of the job we are doing.
There is an increasing number of stories about how the recent “stay-at-home” experience presented an occasion for many fathers to forge new bonds with their children, using the time away from work to get more familiar with each of their children. Perhaps lessons were learned.
The most important lesson is that all children need attention. This is sometimes a difficult goal to achieve for a busy parent whose job requires the utmost effort and focus. The parent whose personal lifestyle demands his or her full attention for sports or parties or the like needs a change in priorities.
Parenting is perhaps the most important role in our life, certainly in terms of our legacy to the world in the person of each child whose care we were privileged to provide. Our influence as well as our genes will usually live on in the generations to follow. As a father, we taught our sons how to live. Like us, they may modify the values we practiced, but our example will always remain their standard – for better or worse. Men make up half of humanity. The beginning point for our daughters in their understanding of the men they will meet in their lives will always be the man who raised them – again for better or worse
A father casts a very long shadow – our job is to make that a good and happy shadow.
Happy Father’s Day!
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