This last weekend, families gathered to celebrate the fathers in their midst and to remember those who had passed. These times are bittersweet yet valuable, causing us to contemplate the meaning of fatherhood and the importance of leaving a legacy.
Of course, not all memories are pleasant. In our increasingly fatherless society, revisiting childhood means reliving painful memories for many. Consider these statistics compiled from various sources by the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI):
24 million children in America (one out of three)
live in biological father-absent homes.
Children who live in a home without a father are nearly
four times (4X) more likely to live in poverty.
Students who live in a fatherless home are two times (2X)
more likely to drop out of school.
Teens who live in a father-absent home are
seven times (7X) more likely to become pregnant.
In addition to these statistics, studies also show that children from fatherless homes are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to experience problems both behaviorally and emotionally. (For a complete infographic on these and other issues, please visit fatherhood.org/The-Father-Absence-Crisis-in-America.)
Fathers, you make a difference.
Unlike many popular media portrayals, dads who embrace their role are not bumbling, clueless and out of touch, but are irreplaceable for the well being of their children and the good of society. Even if they aren’t physically present because of separation or divorce, a father’s continued, focused, positive involvement in his children’s lives has great impact. And as dads faithfully model the value of fatherhood to the family, they leave a legacy for the next generation.
In today’s culture, it is important for mature Christian men and church leaders to encourage and mentor the fathers in their communities and congregations. After all, many young dads today were not raised in a home where their fathers were present. Let us stand in the gap with them, and encourage them as we have been encouraged, as they seek to fully embrace their role as “father”.
With each of you we were like a father with his child,
holding your hand, whispering encouragement,
showing you step-by-step how to live well before God,
who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.
1 Thessalonians 2:12 (MSG)
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