During a recent speaking engagement for an organization dedicated to preserving traditional family values, I asked an auditorium full of single mothers, "Where are the men?"
The question hung in the air for a moment. Then the auditorium exploded with thunderclaps of approval. Plainly the men had detached and moved forward, leaving the women to birth and raise the children alone. This sort of behavior is all too common in a society that continues to glorify men as masculine poachers and females as objects to be prodded.
Lost in the ritual, is the sanctity of a child's life, and the rather rousing fact that from one's parents, a child learns what love, anger and affection are. A child learns how to navigate and express his or her emotions. A child can also learn spousal abuse, adultery, dishonesty and drug addiction.
That is why I want to take this Father's Day to talk about the responsibilities of men as fathers. Every time a man has sex with a woman there is a chance a child will be created, a child who will need a father. It is a shame when a man fails to live up to that obligation.
The importance of virtuous fathers in our society is something that needs stressing, not only to our young men, but to our young women, as well. Both need to realize that the best family consists of two parents - a mother and a father. Virtuous men understand they have an obligation to their children. Yes, many mothers, through no fault of their own, are forced to raise children on their own. Likewise, the mere presence of fathers does not guarantee the best home environment. But if parents are dedicated and loving, their chances for success are far greater.
What if my father had abandoned my mother to raise 10 children alone? If we did not have a loving father to teach us humility, discipline, the value of hard work, respect for our elders and authority figures and a reverence of God, where would we be today?
It is no picnic raising a child. It takes maturity, understanding, patience, discipline and a strong faith in God. Many who believe they are ready to take on that responsibility later find that they cannot cope with the many demands on their time and stress and selfishness overpower them.
When it involves young people, the most obvious answer is to stop out-of-wedlock births. This involves education and requires men and women to be mature enough to handle the commitment of parenthood. People must be told from a young age the importance of family and what it means to be a parent. A parent must always be there for the child. If that dedication is absent, society suffers. Most kids can barely take care of themselves, let alone a spouse and a family. It is a shame that more adults and institutions are not teaching and setting an example of personal responsibility and accountability. When young people lack that example, it sends them the wrong message. We must do better. The failure of American society and cultures abroad are at stake.
Men who abandon their duties as a father to pursue drugs or some other vice not only show a lack of their own self-worth, but also display to their peers their inability to cope with the duties of life. We all suffer. Why must we continue to learn the hard way? They may believe things will get better once they are gone, yet they abandon their own future when they walk out on their children and their children's mother.
History has shown us that nothing really has changed. This disease of the spirit and the conscience persists, permeating everything. It touches our homes, our schools and our streets. We have to put an end to it before it completely destroys our moral compass.
We cannot continue to encourage escapism. Abandoning those that love and need you is wrong. You do have a responsibility to yourself, but your obligation and responsibility to your children should bind you more than anything else does. Fathers betray that trust when they try to escape this God-given duty and sadly pass it on to their offspring. The truth is, whether it is good, bad or indifferent behavior, children will always emulate their parents.