Teenage delinquents were killing their neighbors. A few years ago, the TV news program “60 Minutes” first reported on this story. But they weren’t talking about humans; they were talking about elephants. It seems this story actually began about 20 years earlier in South Africa when an overabundance of elephants in a preserve forced ecologists to relocate elephants. It was difficult to relocate adult elephants, so most of the male elephants were killed and the young elephants and some of their mothers were relocated to another preserve.
Years later those fatherless and orphaned elephants developed into troubled teen-agers; teenagers that began harassing and killing other animals in the wildlife preserve – namely the scarce and prized white rhinos. In addition to killing rhinos, the juvenile elephants acted aggressively toward tourist vehicles. Eventually researchers had to kill five of the elephants because there is no reform school for animals. Or is there?
The park rangers began looking for role models. They brought in older bull elephants. The bigger, older elephants established a new hierarchy and provided much needed training and restraint for the young elephants. The lead field ecologist at the preserve compared the change to a group of teen-agers who have been acting up who are suddenly confronted by their fathers. After the big bull elephants arrived not a single rhino was killed and the younger elephants quickly fell into line.
A simple story. A simple truth. Societies, even elephant societies, need fathers.
What is the greatest predictor of juvenile crime? (We’re talking about humans here!) Answer: Fatherlessness. The one human being most capable of curbing the antisocial aggression of a boy is his biological father. The percentage of fatherless families in a community reliably predicts that community’s rate of violent crime, while the community’s poverty level does not.
Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school, be involved in early sexual activity and fatherless girls are seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent. Even obesity in children is significantly correlated with fatherlessness. We could go on listing statistics. Suffice it to say: Our fathers fill a role that is irreplaceable!
The distinctly different characteristics of men and women are especially important as we consider the impact of fathers. Dad’s strong hands move furniture, open jars, “rough house” with kids, fix a myriad of broken things, and give much needed security and protection in an uncertain world. The influence of good father’s extends far beyond the walls of the home.
This Sunday as you remember the dads in your life, thank them for and encourage them in their role in making the world a better place. As you honor the fathers in your life consider why we at United Families International feel strongly about the make up of families – fathers, mothers, and children are critically important in maintaining a healthy society. We can – and must – rebuild a culture of marriage and intact families for the sake of our children and societies everywhere.
United Families International has complied for you a Fatherhood Fact sheet so you can see what social science teaches about the important role of fathers. Check it out here.
Here is some more good news: fatherlessness is a completely curable social disease. Being a great dad doesn’t have to be difficult. As we are reminded of the value of the role of fathers, we invite Dad’s everywhere to implement these 5 simple suggestions for being a great dad today!
5 Ways to Be a Great Dad Today
We have five things you can do today:
1. Look at your children and call out their best. Be your kid’s biggest fan. Your children are waiting for you to call out their best. They are waiting for you to give them praise and affirmation. Call out what they did right in their choices and actions. Call out what you like best about them. Call out the fact that you love them deeply.
2. Love your children by touching them gently and speaking to them softly.There is nothing so powerful as a father’s touch. A soft and gentle touch – a hug, a kiss on the head – can make a child feel safe and secure.
3. Listen to what your children are saying and to what they are not saying.Spend time listening to your children talk about their day. Ask them questions and listen to what they are not saying. Listening will only take a few minutes, but the impact will last a lifetime.
4. Leave a legacy by giving your children a memory. Make a plan to do something simple but something that your children can always remember. Read the same story each night for a month, play a certain game each week, fix the same dinner or breakfast every Saturday.
5. Laugh with your children. Allow your children to find the joy in life that comes with innocence. Then laugh with your children in these moments and find the deepest joy that is known in the heart of a parent.
If you take the time to love, laugh, look, listen, and leave a legacy, you will find connect with your kids and be the dad they need and want you to be. (From the National Fatherhood Initiative)
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