An October 2018 Gallup poll shared that health care, the economy, and immigration were the top three issues among voters. Issues such as women’s rights, gun policy, and taxes followed. While these are important topics, there is one issue that I believe isn’t receiving the attention it deserves – the issue of divorce and the subsequent fatherlessness.
Despite the odd fact that fatherlessness was nowhere to be found in the recent Gallup poll, 20 years ago, a 1999 poll by the National Center for Fathering found that 72.2% of the U.S. population viewed fatherlessness as the most significant family or social problem facing America. This tragedy is only worsening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 33% of children in America were without their biological father in 2010. That includes 57.6% of black children, 31.2% of Hispanic children and 20.7% of white children. One-third of our children were living absent from their biological fathers.
Unfortunately, among many Americans, divorce has become all too common. We all know someone who has gone through a divorce. Let’s look at fatherlessness and its effect on American society.
According to 2012 research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children who grew up in a home without a father were four times more likely to live in poverty. The same source concluded that “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.” A 2003 study released in The Lancet publication drew a link between the lack of a biological father at home and a two-times increased chance of committing suicide, compared to children with their father at home.
Edward Kruk, Ph.D., concluded in a 2012 publication that “71% of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills; children from father-absent homes are more likely to be truant from school, more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood.”
You thought it couldn’t get worse? A 2005 study of 1,400 adolescents found that “those in father-absent homes were more likely to report being sexually active compared to adolescents living with their fathers.”
I could go on and on with sad statistics on how fatherlessness is tearing apart homes and destroying lives.
I will admit, society is typically tougher on fathers. For example, Father’s Day often consists of telling dads areas in which they need improvement, as opposed to Mother’s Day consisting of flowers and thank-you cards. I’m talking generally here, but you get the point. Maybe fathers deserve the extra pressure and critique?
The reality is that traditional manhood is under assault. Our culture has shifted in such a way that masculinity is frowned upon. The concept of men as leaders and providers isn’t necessarily taught or encouraged. The insistence for integrity and faithfulness is a thing of the past. The result of this shift is that many men are passive, have trouble leading, and lack faithful leadership in the home.
I don’t know when this change occurred, but something must be done to turn the tide. As a father of three young boys, my wife and I have committed to raising them to become men who will love their future wives, lead their families, and leave a legacy of integrity for generations that come behind them. Our standard is not based on our opinion but rather on the Holy Bible. God teaches throughout Scripture that He desires men who will protect, provide, and lead their families.
Men, we are in a battle for the soul of America, the soul being the family. To the fathers who are doing their part to care for their own, keep it up. To the fathers who have been on the sideline, it is time for you to take responsibility for yourself and your family.