For Many, Father’s Day Never Comes

By Evangelia Biddy

In 1960, less than 8 million children in the United States were living in families where the father was absent. Today the number of children living in father-absent homes stands at over 24 million. That means that tonight one out of every three children in America will go to sleep in a home in which their father does not live. While it is at times easy to throw around statistics such as these to make a point, the awful truth of the matter is, that behind every one of these alarming statistics, there is a child. And more common than not, the consequences of absentee fathers for these children represents considerable struggles.

Children who grow up in father-absent homes are significantly more likely to do poorly on almost every measure of child well-being. Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. Studies reveal that 7.8% of children in married-couple families are living in poverty, compared to 38.4% of children in female-headed families.

Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers, including 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates. Children living in father-absent homes are also more likely to be suspended from school, or drop out altogether; be treated for emotional or behavioral problems, commit suicide as adolescents, become teenage parents and be victims of child abuse or neglect. The National Fatherhood Initiative is working to change all this. “We serve as a catalyst for engaging America in a public and forthright discussion about the necessity of reversing these trends,” explains Roland Warren, the organization’s president.

The National Fatherhood Initiative encourages and supports family and father-friendly policies, develops national public education campaigns to highlight the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, provides motivation for national and local coalition-building and provides resources to men to help them be better dads and stay engaged in their children’s lives. Some of the organization’s best know initiatives include Siempre Papá, a Spanish-language fatherhood program designed to engage Hispanic fathers and InsideOut Dad, a program for incarcerated fathers, helping them reach out and reconnect with their children. Based on the success of the group’s popular Long Distance Dads™ program, this initiative is widely recognized as the most comprehensive incarcerated fathers program available.

Doctor Dad was developed for new and expectant fathers in need of important instruction on caring for their newborns. Easy to facilitate, this curriculum was developed by healthcare professionals and instructs dads on the basic healthcare and needs of their children, including instruction on child-proofing their homes. Deployed Fathers & Families addresses the unique challenges of military fathers. National Fatherhood Initiative offers several resources and ideas for supporting this important group of dads — including specialized resources to help dads prepare for deployment.

The goal of the organization is to improve the well-being of children nationwide, by increasing the raw number of children growing up with involved, responsible and committed fathers. “We accomplish our mission by educating and inspiring all Americans, especially fathers, through public awareness campaigns, research and innovative programming. We equip leaders of national, state and community-based parenting programs with training tools, curricula and technical assistance,” states Warren. In addition to its ongoing programming, the Maryland based non-profit, presents an annual Fatherhood Awards Gala. Inaugurated in 1998, National Fatherhood Awards are presented to individuals, corporations and organizations that make substantial contributions to strengthening involved, responsible fatherhood in their work or personal lives. Past honorees include Allan Houston, former NBA All-Star and ESPN Analyst, Rabbi Shmuley, best-selling author and host of TLC Network’s Shalom in the Home, James S. Berrier, President and Publisher of Forbes magazine and country music superstar Tim McGraw. Past and present sponsors of the award’s gala include Exxon-Mobil, IBM, Anheuser Busch, FedEx, Freddie Mac and Lockheed Martin.

Prior to heading the non-profit, Roland Warren worked as a financial consultant for Goldman Sachs, held senior management roles at IBM and PepsiCo and served in the office of development for his undergraduate alma mater, Princeton University. He lectures widely on behalf of children and families. To learn more about the work of this committed group visit www.fatherhood.org.

Evangelia Biddy, Editor-in-Chief of Junior, The Magazine about Bringing up Successful Boys, is also a contributor to Raising Boys World, an expert for Bizymoms.com,  and an educational consultant. She can be reached at ebiddy@juniorthemagazine.com

 

 

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