Fatherlessness in the United States
Fatherlessness is a real issue in the United States. Foster children end up in homes that they would not choose. Homes that are unfamiliar to them. Foster children may not have fathers in their own bio homes and then arrive to live with a foster mom and dad. Because of Fatherlessness, having a dad may seem unfamiliar. But why are dads so important?
My ploy is to reach and help foster children.
My bigger ploy is to help foster families. What are parts of the problem with our country that could be solved based on the father, or a father, just being in the home?
Fathers play an enormous role in the family structure. When they are absent, families suffer.
My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me." --Jim Valvano
How does fatherlessness affect society? Poverty, teen pregnancy, drugs, and alcohol use are all effects. Children are more likely to have behavior problems when there is no father figure in the home. I know my kids misbehave more when their dad is not available.
So, what if the crime rates decreased? What if the father's stayed home with the family? Married the mother of their children? Could the father in a family implement good moral standards for their children by just being there? If we want our young men to stay out of prisons, let's provide fathers for them.
Why should we and how do we engage the fathers that could choose to be in the home?
The National Fatherhood Initiative is a group that wants to create change in our society regarding fatherlessness in the United States. According to their statistics:
1 in 3 children (some 24 million) in America will sleep tonight in a home without their father, and 9 in 10 parents agree that there is a father absence crisis. Father absence has devastated communities across the country.
Children who grow up without fathers are, on average, more likely to suffer from a range of poor outcomes, including poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, poor school performance, behavioral problems, and suicide.
For foster kids,
it is often worse because there are already adverse statistics related to just being in, or growing up, in foster care. These issues are affecting our society very negatively.
"The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get." --Tim Russert, former host of Meet the Press
What if dads provide support to the mother so she has the help she needs and can take a mental break. IF the father in the home brings in extra income, this could decrease the poverty stresses? This very issue is addressed in the Ford Hamin Institute; see the entire article for this argument that dads in the home decrease stress: https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/power-two-parent-home-not-myth
What is the purpose of the father in the home?
According to Pediatric Associates of Franklin, "Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength." See the entire article here: https://www.pediatricsoffranklin.com/resources-and-education/pediatric-care/the-importance-of-a-father-in-a-childs-life/#:~:text=Children%20look%20to%20their%20fathers,promotes%20inner%20growth%20and%20strength.
Focus on the family gives such a great article. I wish I could copy it's entirety here. The urgency is summed up by the following quote:
“The implication is clear. Those of us who are “in the know” [about fatherlessness] need to do everything we can to get this information out to the general public as quickly as possible. If it’s true that father involvement has so many positive effects on kids’ lives, then, as sociologist W. Jean Yeung has said, “The fact that this benefit is here should raise concerns for those who do not have these resources.” -Focus on the Family https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-qa/the-significance-of-a-fathers-influence/
"Mothers and fathers parent differently. Mothers are more sympathetic while fathers tend to make children think of solving problems." -Focus on the Family
Happy Father's Day
On this Father's Day, I hope to implore you to impress value on a child. I hope that you will impress value no matter the color of the skin or the color of the biological parents.
For the sake of the most vulnerable of children - foster children - I hope men can step up and be the parent for these children who are missing so much already. They are missing a mom and a dad. They need both in their lives - even temporarily - through the foster care system.
In our 10 years of foster care we took in over 24 children, we have taken in Hispanic children, black children, and white children. 85% of the children we took in were for neglectful circumstances due to drugs. There were no distinctions between blacks or whites when they would come into care at my house. The similarity was more about low-socioeconomic status, lack of a stable father figure in the home, drug use, and neglect.
The children really need us to step up and impact them positively. We can make such an impression on their lives - even if it is for a short time. Let's impress value - be the change. Let's overcome the typical bias that people have when they hear 'foster kids'. That is a real issue too.
When I taught in public school, we had several foster children in the school at which I taught. A few of the teachers were very judgmental about the kids in care and their bad behaviors - particularly the inability to get along with others or follow instructions. They were not sympathetic to the trauma and the moves from home to foster home that had taken place. I know these kids suffered from fatherlessness and the male teachers who could have been a role model, sadly, were not.
I was quite ignorant at the time as well; however, I did not merely see the behavior but the child and tried to make a connection - insignificant as it probably was at the time.
You see, I've adopted from the foster care system. I've adopted children of a different color and ethnicity. Have their been challenges because of that? A few. But nothing so significant that we could not easily overcome it once they found out I thought they were beautiful. Their daddy tells them every day how beautiful they are. Fatherlessness is not an issue for my children. I'm grateful for that.
One time, at three years old, my foster daughter asked me about needing a crayon color the same as her skin? I said, "Is there a color called 'beautiful' in that box?" She smiled from ear to ear. Their big white sisters fix their long, tight, curly, beautiful hair in a variety of styles. They also have a great sense of capability that we have instilled.
Prejudices still exist
I have a few instances of others casting or projecting "concern" for us. I even got into a verbal 'altercation' with someone at the dentist's office waiting room when he saw my black children. That's another post for another day. So some issues do exist, but that is no reason to leave a child unfathered.
Please step up to the plate and be the bigger person. Be the person that will impress value on the mind of the child - no matter the color of their skin. Help be the example for the world to see that prejudice is something man-made and something that man can also destroy. I love my black-skinned daughters just as much as the white-skinned ones. You can too. No matter your ethnicity, you can be a father-figure to someone who needs you.
Fatherlessness in the United States
With all that being said, please know that fatherlessness is the biggest issue facing the United States today - the breakdown of the family is more detrimental to the human race than all other attacks. Let's step up to the plate to encourage family life, encourage fathers, and encourage healthy relationships with all groups of people. Let's impress value!
Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, [fathers] teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the limits they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulty and hardship.”
“Every father bears a fundamental obligation to do right by their children.” ―Barak Obama, Father’s Day proclamation, 2012
I did create a short video related to ethnicity and if it matters as a foster parent. Please take the time to watch it. I just wanted to be honest with you about it so you can be prepared before taking a placement.
Interested in becoming a foster parent and impressing a mind? Start with this post. Comment with your questions. https://impressingminds.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=192&action=edit
THANK YOU TO ALL THE FOSTER FATHERS WHO ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO BE A GOOD EXAMPLE! HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! You are appreciated!
How can you get involved with the Fatherhood Initiative? Start with their website. https://www.fatherhood.org/getting-started
How has your father impacted you? Where would you be without the father figure in your life? If you did not have a father in the home, how do you feel you were slighted? What do you feel you missed out on because of father absence? Let me know in the comments.