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Fathers Count!

June 2014

Approximately 33% of children in America under the age of 18 do not live with their biological father. Apparently many men have begun to believe they are not really needed in the lives of their children after the procreation of them. Perhaps they even hope that the mothers of their children really CAN do it all without their help.

The fact is, fathers make a huge and irreplaceable difference in the lives of their children in terms of education, income, mental and physical health, drug use, sexual activity, pregnancy, and almost every other social indicator. For example, 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. Children from fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor. Mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers. Youths in father-absent households are more likely to be incarcerated and are at a 120 % greater risk of being endangered by child abuse. 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. These shocking statistics should quickly assure any father of his importance in the social, behavioral, psychological, and cognitive lives of his children.

One of the problems in becoming a father is that it is almost impossible to prepare or train for the job. Being a father not only carries a different type of responsibility than that of being solely a boyfriend or husband, it also requires an additional commitment. As a result, your choices, behavior, and priorities in everyday life change, and this inevitably takes time. Don’t expect to be a good father all at once!

As a father, what can you do to make the most positive impact upon your children? First of all, embrace your responsibility. Remember, once you become a father, you are a father for life. Take time to be there for them. Working together on a chore or simply hanging out affords you the opportunity to get to know them, which they really want and need.

There is no time in your child’s life that doesn’t count. Each age and stage your child goes through will have its challenges and rewards. When you let them know they are worth your time and effort all along the way, your children will grow up healthy and strong and be more successful in life. Don’t make the mistake of being only a disciplinarian or, on the other hand, being focused on having so much fun you leave their mother to be the heavy. What will give you and your children the most satisfaction is providing the stability that comes with clear limits, along with the good memories that come with having fun together.

Regardless of whether you are getting along with your children’s mother, your relationship to your children is exactly that – your relationship to them. Your care, love, and financial support should not be withheld for any reason. If you don’t live with their mother, don’t cause them to feel torn between the two people they love. To the best of your ability, treat their mother with respect.

Most importantly, remember that both your daughters and your sons need you as a role model. They watch how you behave, how you treat others, how you manage stress and frustrations, how you fulfill your obligations, and whether you carry yourself with dignity. For these reasons and more, if you undertake the task of fathering wholeheartedly, it will contribute to your development like nothing else will and will give you the opportunity to experience the love and connectedness that only having your own children can give.

An afterword: women contemplating having a child should consider the role of the father, the commitment the potential father is willing to make. They should be under no illusion that their child’s road will be easy if there is no father in his or her life.


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