A young father was stranded in LA and was in need of a cab to make his flight. Taking all risks into account, he found a ride from three young teenage boys. As a visitor to LA, he commented on the beautiful city. One boy responded, “Naah, it’s rough here, man. It’s hard.” As they began talking, the father questioned if the boys were involved in any of the many gangs surrounding LA. They were not. The teen boys had chosen alternate paths that would hopefully give them a future, instead of a bullet in their head. They chose to walk away from the gang life. Intrigued, the father wanted to know why. Having just returned from a Men’s Movement Conference, he asked if the boys in the car all had fathers living in their home. The answer was affirmative. He then asked if the boys in the gangs at school had fathers. The answer was negative. One of the boys described his father as, “always behind you, pushing you, keeping you in line.” The other boys agreed. It dawned on this man that maybe fathers really do make a difference. He credited his safe arrival at the airport that night to the fathers of these three teenage boys.
This young man’s intuition about the influence of fathers on their children is right. Fathers throughout the U.S. and throughout the world are influencing their children in one way or another. Research has identified that fathers influence their children for the better by being in the home. They are more likely to live away from poverty, they are more likely to be emotionally and behaviorally stable, and crime rates go down. In addition, teen pregnancies and drug abuse decreases, high school drop outs are lower and other results stem from a father being present in the home. This is not to say that children who grow up without a father in the home will always result in these threats, but the risks are definitely higher.
On the opposing side, there are many who do believe that fathers are replaceable. When fathers leave the home, some believe they can be replaced. A National Survey was completed by the National Fatherhood Initiative regarding mother’s attitudes on fathers. “A majority of the mothers agreed that a mother or another man could be an adequate substitute for an absent or uninvolved father.” 91% of the surveyed mothers believe that there is a father absence crisis in the United States today, but instead of promoting the fathers to be in the home, they are settled on the idea of replacing those fathers. But who is making this decision? The adults of society? Or the children who receive the direct impact of a parent in the home? Little research has been done to determine the child’s perspective on their fathers. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. They each have a voice and need to be heard.
In 2013, Grace Evans, an 11 year old girl, used her voice to speak up about her need for both her mom and dad to grow up to be a woman. She spoke out in a Minnesota Hearing regarding marriage laws. She boldly declared to the people her need for both her mother and her father. She explained that her mother taught and showed her how to be a girl, a good woman, and a wife. Miss Evans noted that her dad could teach her those things, but that her mom taught her in a special way that her dad could not. She then spoke about the need for her father. She emphasized the need for her dad because he protected her and gave her the confidence she needed to be a woman. She declared that she would not be able to be the woman she wanted to be without her dad. Every child needs a mother and a father to be born, so she believed that every child also needs that mother and father to grow. She concluded with a bold question directed at each person present asking, “Which parent do I not need, my mom or my dad?”
Who will answer this question? In response to the results of the National Fatherhood Initiative survey mentioned earlier, many fathers voiced that they are needed in the home. Miss Evans also declared in the Minnesota Hearing that the father is needed in the home. Research is saying that fathers are needed in the home. The children that are being raised today are going to be the leaders and the future of society tomorrow. Instead of insisting that a child will grow up “just fine” without a father, we should rise above settling for “fine” and rise up to raise outstanding individuals in whom we can entrust our lives with.
There will always be a voice speaking up about one side of a topic or threat. At times, the voice is so loud, that the other side backs down in fear. This can change. As some individuals feel there are adequate replacements for fathers, we need to stand together and voice the needs of fathers today. As we unite our efforts, our voice can be heard. Fathers will hear the plea to come home and take responsibility. The father crisis can decrease and the strength of the children can then increase.
In 2009, a voice was heard. President Obama voiced from personal experience that “the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill. We can do everything possible to provide good jobs and good schools and safe streets for our kids, but it will never be enough to fully make up the difference.” Fatherhood Programs are beginning to evolve. These programs involve groups meeting locally throughout the U.S. to inform, help, provide activities, and more to promote fathers. These programs are open to those who desire to attend, so they do not reach everyone. There is, however, a way that we can reach others. We can individually do our part by using technology, media, writing, and our voices to promote the fathers within own communities. We can start small. Brian Klems, is an avid blogger for dads. He has taken the initiative to write about the life of a dad from his own experience. He has taken it from a humorous point of view while still giving fathers good advice to help them with their families. In addition, he has written a book, “Oh Boy, you’re Having a Girl” as a survival guide for raising daughters. Klems has taken a step to advocate for fathers. We can do the same. The use of technology has increased and we can use our voices there. Media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, web pages, YouTube, and online articles are ways that we can make a difference. Once again, the voice can be heard. It needs to be heard. The leaders of tomorrow are depending on it.