Two generations without fathers have taught us a lot
By Dr. Larry Fedewa (Washington DC, June 15,2020)
Last year’s Fathers’ Day column traced the recent history of the breakdown of the traditional family, especially the trend toward fatherless families (https://drlarryonline.com/who-needs-fathers/.) Above is a pictogram of some consequences for the children of fatherless families. (Source: National Fatherhood Initiative) Although the data are from 2017, the situation has remained critical.
Unfortunately, 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that there are currently nearly 25 million children living in fatherless homes. 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.
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 aimed at 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. And their tragedy burdens the rest of us as well 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 individual and members of a family. It is also the day in which 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 to more familiar with each of their children. Perhaps lessons were learned. The last words of last year’s column addressed these issues as follows;
“Whatever its form, fathering nevertheless has its own requirements.
“A father must be a good husband – that means willing to support his wife emotionally as well as financially – to the best of his ability, as long as they both shall live. Some men duck out of marriage at the worst possible times, the times of greatest loss, whether sickness, finances or even death. No family can build a successful life on such a shaky foundation.
“A father must be a good father – patient with his children, willing to sacrifice for them, to love them, and to help them face their own lives as they encounter each test along the way.
“Who needs a father?
Your son needs a father to show him how to live, how to love, how to have fun, and how to die. Your daughter needs to know that there are good men in the world. Men make up half the world’s population.
“Your daughter needs to know how to tell the good ones from the bad ones. All her life she will compare the men she knows with the father who raised her.
You are that father. She needs you.”
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