A father's presence, simple gesture goes a long way
Beaumont Enterprise - Father’s Day Editorial- June 19, 2011
Fatherhood in American can be confusing. The role of dads has changed in recent decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 24 million children in America – one out of three – live in biological father-absent homes. Meaning their dads are not around.
Chances are since you are reading this you aren’t one of those fathers or if you are, you want to be a good dad even if you don’t live under the same roof with your children. Evidence supports that even a minimal level of involvement and monetary support a father contributes to their children has a strong impact on the child’s positive development. I remember when my ex made a specific and unexpected positive gesture. Our daughter had saved her pennies for a church youth ski trip when her dad bought her a lovely, feminine ski suit he found on sale. That simple gift said, “Daddy cares for you.”
If you are one of the dads who are present daily, good for you. You provide a neck to hug, a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Unfortunately about 40% of kids whose parents are divorced have not seen their fathers in at least a year, according to Ron Klinger, recently retired president of the Center for Successful Fathering in Austin, Texas.
There are some frightening facts about absent fathers. Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. Researchers at Columbia University found that teens in single mother households are at a 30% higher risk to smoke, drink, and use drugs than those in two-parent homes. Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.
Klinger would suggest to fathers who are divorced or not present that you be as active as possible in your children's lives. Talk to their teachers, attend parent teacher conferences, go to their activities even when it is not their weekend to be with the kids, and take them to their activities. Create a positive working relationship with their mother, and take one on one time with each child when possible. Call them, email them, guide them, encourage them in their interest and most of all tell them how much you love them and how important they are to you. If you remarry, balance that new relationship with the one that you entered the relationship with - your responsibilities as a father.
Some encouraging facts about fatherhood also come from Klinger. “Research shows that girls with active and hardworking dads are more ambitious, more successful in school, attend college more often, and are more likely to attain careers of their own. They are less dependent, more self-protective, and less likely to date or marry abusive men. Kids with secure attachments with their fathers come to see themselves as successful risk-takers and are better prepared to form trusting relationships with people outside the family.”
The hard working dad who bought that ski suit made a thoughtful and positive gesture which was remembered with each wearing. It was a gift that lasted long after it was outgrown and was worth much more than what he paid for it.
Fatherhood doesn’t have to be confusing.
Fathers, it’s your call. Make it. Be more than a sperm donor, be a dad.