June 8, 2011
Father’s Day: A Time to Recommit
It’s June and in my corner of the world, that means warmer weather, summer vacations, kids out of school and Father’s Day! In just over a week we will be celebrating the influence of dads in our lives. United Families International has researched the critical place fathers play in the lives of their children.
We recognize that dad is not only the one to toss us high into the air, teach us to ride a bike and fix its flat, loosen the tight grip on the pickle jar, move our boxes as we go away to college and comfort us when we make mistakes, but fathers also provide the security that keeps kids in school, and out of drugs, mischief and prisons. Social science clearly shows that having a father in the home lessens substantially the risks of unhappy, delinquent children in society.
I wish to thank Tom Christensen for the following write up on fathers. Having been involved in pro-family work for over 25 years and as the father of 15 children, Tom certainly understands the importance of fathers and families in a healthy society!
President, United Families International
Father’s Day was first officially recognized by President Johnson in a presidential proclamation issued in 1966, then signed into law as a national holiday by President Nixon in 1972.
It is is now celebrated by virtually every nation in the world. Father’s Day is a day to remember the sacrifices and contributions of fathers. However, it is a day to recognize something more. As President Obama highlighted in his Father’s Day proclamation last year, it is a time to observe the devastation caused when fathers are missing in the lives of their children:
An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children and families cope with an absence government cannot fill.
A year before President Johnson instituted Father’s Day as a national holiday, an obscure Assistant Secretary of Labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan ignited a national controversy when he documented similar conclusions in his prophetic report: “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” The “Moynihan report” substantiated the fact that entrenched, multigenerational poverty in the inner-city is fueled by the absence of fathers in the home. Years later, senior Democratic Senator Moynihan (now deceased) elaborated:
From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of the Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future–that community asks for and gets chaos.
Fatherlessness at the time of the Moynihan report was primarily a black problem. At the time of the Moynihan report, nearly 20% of all black children were born to unmarried mothers. Today, according to 2009 US Census data, nearly 20% of all white children are born to single mothers. Among blacks, the rate is currently well above 60% and would be higher if the U.S. Census still counted children living with two unmarried parents as living in a single-parent household.
The problem of fatherlessness is a national epidemic driving our most urgent social problems: crime, illiteracy, poverty, abuse. The epidemic is not an excessive number of pregnancies, which some assert should be reduced through expanded public sex education and reproductive health services. The problem, as documented in the Moynihan report, is excessive out-of-wedlock pregnancies, which can only be addressed by the return of responsible men (and women) to traditional marriage and basic parental responsibilities.
In a few days, President Obama will issue another Father’s Day proclamation, honoring the nation’s fathers both living and deceased. Such a declaration and ensuing celebration is fitting and proper. But as a nation, we must set a higher standard for fathers. We must especially honor those who enter into a marital covenant and keep it their entire lives with fidelity–those who commit their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to the care and maintenance of a family. This is the common lot, but most fulfilling and essential duty, of mankind
Tom Christensen and his wife of 28 years, Dixy, reside in South Jordan, Utah where they are successfully raising their last ten of fifteen children. Christensen, who served for five years as CEO of United Families, lead delegations and spoke at UN conferences in New York, Nairobi, the Hague, Lisbon and Geneva, and published several articles on family policy. Christensen was featured in the front page Deseret News series, “Utahns Making a Difference Abroad,” and received in Budapest in behalf of United Families, the “Family and Peace Award” from the World Association of Non-