Consider these American father facts:
● 50 to 60 percent of first marriages end within the first 15 years.
● When divorce occurs, mothers usually get custody of the children.
● 24 million children in the United States live without their biological father.
● About 40 percent of children who do not live with their biological fathers have not seen him during the past 12 months; more than half of them have never been in his home; and 26 percent of those fathers live in a different state from their children.
● 90 percent of Americans believe children should live in the same house with their mother and father.
● 85 percent of Americans believe that the number of children born to single parents is a serious issue.
● Almost 18 million children in grades 1 to 12 do not live with their biological father.
● About 27 percent of white children do not live with their biological father; 35 percent of Hispanic children; and 66 percent of black children.
● In 2000, among white mothers, about 27 percent of all births were out of wedlock; among Hispanic mothers, about 43 percent; and black mothers, about 70 percent.
● In 1996, more than nine million children under 18 years old who were born out of wedlock did not have a father who was legally identified.
● Studies suggest that boys might be more adversely affected by divorce than girls. They also show, however, that female college students whose parents are divorced are more likely to develop depression, have problems in their relationships, and have children out of wedlock.
● One study suggests that children with stepfathers are three times more likely to be abused. Another indicates that 17 percent of female victims were sexually abused by their stepfather.
● The fathers of more than one million children in the United States are in prison. African-American children are nine times more likely than white children to have an incarcerated parent. (Reproduced from Father Facts, 4th Edition, 2002.)
From these scary statistics, if we could hear the voice of our children who are victims of human indiscretion, it would be “Help! Where is my dad?” This cry is for the physical, emotional, and spiritual presence of their fathers.
Having become “half-orphan” as a result of losing my biological father when I was about 2 months old, I had my fair share of the complications and deprivations of growing up without a biological father in the home.
As they say, the numbers don’t lie; the grim statistics on fatherhood in America today need urgent attention for redress in order to save the destiny of our children now and in future generations.
The message by the last prophet of the Old Testament–recorded in the last verse of the last chapter of the last book, Malachi 4:6–speaks volumes to our present generation of fathers. Hear the strong message from God through His prophet: Give them good examples.
God is calling on fathers to return back to their children; otherwise, the judgment of God is inevitable.
There are different kinds of fathers. We can identify responsible fathers, runaway fathers, absentee fathers, and irresponsible fathers. God issues the call by way of a warning with dire consequences for the disobedient generation, because all children are God’s heritage, but some have become victims of human indiscretion.
What should we as fathers do to heed our children’s cry?
Give them good examples. Fathers are the best role model of father to our male children and husband to our female children. To serve as a good model, we have to be one ourselves, since we teach what we know and reproduce who we are. What a man does not have, he cannot give. Our children are calling us to live godly and responsibly. We are the first life manual they will read.
Give them of yourself. Many fathers strive to make up for their physical and emotional absenteeism by giving their children things. Things are things and can never be a replacement for you. Children primarily want their fathers’ presence, not things. It is said that by the time children are 12, they will have learned 75 percent of all they will ever know about living responsibly. In our generation, the question is, Who will be their teachers? Their peers? Television? Popular culture? Or some drug-addicted artist?
Give them your best when they need it. Bob Gass, writer of “The Word for You Today” devotional, says if you spend all your energy at work and leave none for your family, you will pay a high price for it. A career-addicted life at the expense of quality relationships and time with the family will be a regrettable and miserable lifestyle. Your children will grow up either to resent you and repeat your mistakes, or rejoice in the home that love built with the brick of time. Give them the best of your time. Give them quality attention when they need it. They will not be here forever. Neither will you.
Give them spiritual direction. God has given us the responsibility as fathers to set the spiritual atmosphere for our family. Sadly, many fathers cannot put a sentence of prayer together. They are clueless as to what spiritual leadership in the home is. The mothers are the ones doing the spiritual running around, standing in the gap in prayer for their children, and taking them to church. Yet God holds us as fathers responsible for the spiritual training of our children. Ephesians 6:4: “And you Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
As fathers, the things we spend all our time on today will not top our priority list in 10 or 20 years. The question we should ask ourselves individually on this year’s Father’s Day is, “Will the man I am today be proud of the father I will be in my 60s and 70s?”