A sobering crisis.
We all hear the figures and see the facts similar to the staggering news story that ran on Father’s Day weekend in 2022 entitled, “America’s crisis is a lack of fathers.” To summarize: there are nearly 18.5 million fatherless children in the U.S., which is the largest percentage of fatherless children in the world! To put it a different way, “1 in 4 (kids in the U.S.), live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.”
This report went on to highlight the all too familiar facts that children with fathers had increased prosperity, higher academic performance, and improved social mobility across all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Those without a father saw an 85% increase in behavior disorders, comprised 90% of all homeless and runaways, were 9 times more likely to quit school, and made up 70% of those in drug and alcohol treatment centers.
What can we do?
These facts and numbers seem overwhelming, and they are. And while we may not be able to impact the whole, we can do something in those times and places in our own circles of influence. It can be as simple as including a fatherless friend of our children in family activities, being a mentor, being a coach, and/or becoming a foster or adoptive parent.
From the time I was ten years old, my sister, brother, and I were raised by a single father. We all went on to earn degrees and advanced degrees, obtain good careers, and live in good communities. My father also mentored many other youths who were involved with our family. He did this while running his own business and being involved in causes that were important to him in business, recreation, and alumni groups. He also made sure we had positive mother figures in our lives as he recognized this need for us.
By his example, I have fostered nine kids, adopted three sons, and mentored numerous other youths. Like my father, I have had solid mother figures who have come alongside us to provide those aspects unique to that role as well in this noble work of raising youth into healthy adults.
Never underestimate the power of your influence on a single life.
I found that by focusing on my areas of influence in the community that I live in, I can do my part in the fulfilling role of being a father and father figure to many. I have heard it said many times and in many different ways that by positively changing even one life we begin to positively change the world.
I would encourage any man reading this, to think back to a time when a father or father figure positively impacted you. How does this memory make you feel? How grateful are you for that man in your life? What would this type of experience mean to a child in your community without a father? Then consider seeking opportunities in your community to become that kind of father figure to a child who is not your own. Meet some of the kids eligible for adoption from foster care in our country.