What is fatherlessness anyway? Fatherlessness is simply the absence of a father’s influence in the lives of their children. Fatherlessness ranges from mere absenteeism, neglect or ineptness to parent effectively. For example, it has been discovered that when a father leads the way spiritually that 93% of family members are likely to follow him, as opposed to only 17% of family members when a mother attempts to take the same spiritual role. This is a significant finding and confirms the role, authority and influence a father possesses over his family. Fathers in the Field, an organization dedicated to mentoring fatherless boys claims:
Some 24 million boys are growing up fatherless in America – Nearly a third of all American children are born to unmarried parents; the numbers are even higher among poor, minority populations – 40% among Hispanics, and 70% among African-Americans.”
As you can see fatherlessness is rapidly rising among Hispanics, and consuming the African-American community. Unless we get serious about this cultural epidemic, fatherlessness will continue to disrupt the family and devastate communities, perhaps even bring our culture to its demise. Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift notes:
Enduring cultures have strong bonds across the generations. In contemporary American culture, we’re seeing those bonds dissolve rapidly, in the span of a single lifetime.”
Dr. Sax is referring to the generational bonds between grandfathers, fathers and sons. This trend of generational disconnect in our society is showing significant signs of cultural decline. The following statistics from Fathers in the Field website should alarm you:
1. Fatherless children commit 72% of adolescent murders.
2. 70% of juveniles in reform institutions are fatherless.
3. 67% of state prison inmates come from fatherless homes.
4. 60% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
5. 30% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
6. Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
7. And, 11 times more likely to exhibit violent behavior at school.
It is for these reasons and other unseen factors that we should pay more attention to the fatherlessness issue in our society, but just how do we begin to address this epidemic? Dr. Sax provides the following insight:
To become a man, a boy must see a man. But that man doesn’t have to be his father. In fact, ideally, it shouldn’t be only his father. Even if your son has a strong father or father figure in his life, he also needs a community of men who together can provide him with the varied models of what productive adult men do.”
So where do we find this “community of men”? Many high profile athletes who were considered “role models” have abdicated their leadership role in the area of providing the leadership to inspire a generation of young boys by scandals of infidelity, drug exposures and boyish antics on public television for all to see. These examples of fallen heroes and others from admired professions force us to turn somewhere else for answers.
What solutions can you offer to curb the “fatherlessness epidemic” in America today?
Updated article, previously published on Ezine Articles on 3.19.2010