As a new dad more than 35 years ago, I read a book about effective fathering, and one illustration from one chapter, based on a real life story, has stayed with me ever since. It provides a sobering lesson for fathers.
Before I get to that illustration, let me share an anecdote along with some eye-opening statistics that underscore the critically important role that fathers play in the lives of their children. (Yes, men, what you father is not just your “biological offspring.” It’s your kid!)
As for the anecdote, I can’t guarantee its accuracy, since I heard the account second (or third) hand, but it rings true for many obvious reasons. I was told that some Catholic ministry workers were reaching out to male inmates in a prison, and when Mother’s Day came, they asked the men if they would like to send a card to their moms. The response was overwhelming, as virtually every prisoner said “Yes” until the workers actually ran out of cards.
Buoyed by their success on Mother’s Day, they decided to get cards for Father’s Day, offering them to the inmates so they could write notes of love and appreciation to their dads. This time, the response was the exact opposite. They got absolutely no takers.
Again, I can’t verify the story, but I find it quite believable, even if exaggerated, and statistics cited by my colleague Frank Turek back this up. In his book Correct, Not Politically Correct, he writes that, “Children from fatherless homes are:
- Seven times more likely to live in poverty
- Six times more likely to commit suicide
- More than twice as likely to commit crime
- More than twice as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock
- Worse off academically and socially
- Worse off physically and emotionally when they reach adulthood.”
I’m aware, of course, that some of these statistics are related to socio-economic factors as well, but the reality is that broken, fatherless homes are part of the socio-economic dynamic, and so fatherless homes are part of a larger, vicious cycle.