By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, there is a crisis in America. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 24 million children in America—1 out of 3 — live without their biological dad in the home. There is a father absence crisis in America creating a “Father-Factor” in nearly all of the societal issues facing America today. Consequently, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, there is an urgency to raise more involved, responsible, and committed fathers. Research shows the Father-Factor when a child grows up in a fatherabsent home:
• Children in father-absent homes are almost 4 times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.
• Youths in father-absent households had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.
• Being raised by a single mother raises the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.
Despite the troubling statistics, there are fathers who are doing the right thing by their children. There are fathers who are supporting their children emotionally, financially and by their physical presence. This month we celebrate fatherhood. In continuation, this writer asked fathers to answer the question: “What has been the greatest joys of fatherhood?” Here are two more responses received:
Reflections on Fatherhood By: Min. Gregory Roberts
When I realized I was going to be a father, I was overjoyed because the doctor had said I might not be able to have children. I used to love to feel the baby kick in the belly. I’m the proud father of 3 by natural birth and 2 by adoption. The greatest joy I must say is watching them develop into productive children in both the kingdom of God and in the community. I enjoy when my children come to me for advice or to simply listen to them when they have problems. Before my mother died she said she was proud of me because I was a good father even though I didn’t have a father figure in my own life. That was 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve seen one graduate from college and in the ministry; another who loves his children; and another attending engineering school. The joy of fatherhood never stops. Every day there is something new. I thank God for blessing me with my children and for allowing me to be a father.
God Blessed Me With Two Beautiful Daughters! By: Deacon Jesse Ware
When each of my children was born and I saw the little precious lives I helped to create, I realized then this was serious business. I was now a father and I was responsible for protecting, clothing, and feeding my girls. It got tough at times, but having children has been the greatest joy of my life. My daughters are grown now, but when I had my girls, it made me become even more focused on being the best father I could be! Now that I am a grandfather, I am enjoying my grandchildren and being the best granddad they have ever known!
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
– Sigmund Freud