Our first blog topic is about fathers and the importance of fatherhood to children. Regardless of gender and role (fathers or mothers), children absolutely love them. In the eyes of a child, the parent is the world; their entire universe. Somehow, somewhere along the way of time, we discounted the importance of the role of a father. This has led to fathers who feel disconnected from their families and communities.
According to the US Department of Census, 43% of US children live without their father. There are several reasons why this is such a staggering number. The real shame is not only in the percentage of broken homes that our children live in but the message sent to the parent who is not living with the children. When I worked in the world of early childhood and families, we were encouraged to engage fathers about everything their child was going through. Fathers wanted to know what their child was needing and experiencing. It was the perception of others that the ‘father’ just wouldn’t understand. For example, it wasn’t the fact that the father was not interested in the doctor appointment that he did not show. He was not showing because when he did, rarely would anyone talk with him. Instead the medical personnel talked to the mother. Fathers would state that they felt useless in these types of situations.
The effects on fatherless children are too important to ignore. By the time children without fathers become teenagers, they are more likely to be involved in drugs, crime and dropout of school. Children without fathers feel a void. They often look to other males to be their role models. However, going back to the true concept of love for a parent, other males are not the real deal. I agree that mentors are a must for all children. (In fact, mentors should be a part of our lives through adulthood.) Mentors are not a substitute.
So what can be done to build the lives of children with the involvement of fathers?
This blog on fatherhood and the importance of their role with their children is my perception based on experiences and facts while working with families. I do want to say that violence, abuse, mental illness, and other situations that hurt others and are not being monitored or addressed are not healthy for children. There are exceptions and times when children are better off without their fathers. However, these issues cross no boundaries and look at no color or gender. Children should not be subject to others who hurt them for any reason.
For more information, check out the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) website at www.fatherhood.org