Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I didn't want to do a post on this subject for a variety of reasons, but it seems that everything that I see and everything that I am reading leads me back to the subject. Bowing therefore, to the apparent inevitability and karma of the situation I will touch on the subject of Fathers. This will not be however, one of those sappy, sentimental postings that call for tissues and a Hallmark card. Nor will I be regaling you with tales of my own father and what he meant to me. That particular wound is still healing and I refuse to pick at the scab too often. I will instead drop a little cold, hard truth on you about fathers (or the lack thereof). 
 
  • 50% of children born to married parents will suffer through their parents’ divorce by age 18.
  • Almost 60% of black children, 32% of Hispanic children and 21% of white children are living in single-parent homes
  • Children who live apart from their fathers will account for 40% of incarcerated adults, 63% of teen suicides, 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 71% of high-school dropouts, 75% of children in chemical-abuse centers, 80% of rapists, 85% of youths in prison, 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders, and 90% of homeless and runaway children.
  • About 8% of children in married-couple homes live at or below poverty level, while almost 40% of children in homes without fathers live below poverty level. The latter group risks a much higher incidence of serious child abuse or neglect.
And if that isn't enough to scare the bejeezus out of you, let me tell you that some of my recent reading tells me that it wasn't half as bad as this 10-15 years ago and that the situation seems to be getting worse almost exponentially. This dissolution of the basic family unit appears to be causing problems at every level of society. The education system, welfare system, and even the police departments of the US are being impacted directly by the lack of a father in far too many American families. This is no indictment of single mothers, who often operate in some of the most trying of circumstances; but more of the fathers who fail to care for the offspring that they produce.

Now I have to tell you that I don't consider myself to be one of the best male parental units to have hit the planet. Like far too many fathers in society today, I was too wrapped up in the career that I was pursuing to have been there as much as I should have been. Even today, and though I have a very good relationship with my 3 children, I wish that I was able to spend more time with them. Fortunately for me, there were two very good women involved with their lives (their mother, and in case of the children from my first marriage their step-mother), and they were able to take up the slack from my slacking.
Something must have worked however, because I couldn't be happier or more proud about the way that the three of them turned out. On top of what their moms were able to do, maybe I was able to pass on some of what my father taught me:
 
  • That honesty is the best policy, even if your only reward is that of self-respect.
  • That your word is your bond and everything else is just society's nonsense.
  • That if you work hard it will be rewarded, even if that reward is nothing more that knowing that you did your best.
  • That you will make mistakes in life, but they are rarely permanent and that it's usually easier to fix them than to admit to them.
OK, enough already. I said that this wasn't going to be one of those sappy Hallmark postings and I meant it. Go call your Dad and wish him a Happy Father's Day!
 
Note: Thanks to the Patriot Post for the startling statistics on this issue.


6 comments:

Roland Hansen said...

Bravo! Excellent post, commentary, and statistics.
Far too many people fail to understand the importance of a two-parent household and the negative consequences of single parenthood. The norm today is of a far different nuclear family; today, it is one in which neither the father nor the mother believe that it is either necessary to be wed or to both be in the home with the children. The young parents today all to often remain unmarried with one or both of them living with their children in the home of one of the parent's parents. Another sad social commentary on the family of today is that many, many children are being raised by their grandparents.
So, to all those fathers out there who are a responsible paternal parent: Happy Father's Day.
To all those biological sperm donors who do not assume the responsibilities that accompany parenthood: Shame on you!

kck_kat said...

You are not telling the whole truth! You were the father who quit his job and moved back to you former home take over caring for your children, while looking for a new job. You always let your children know that you loved them and provided a good life for them. The relationship you have with your children shows how, in fact, you were a great Dad, while trying to survive and provide for them. Don't sell yourself so short! Happy Father's Day! I'm proud of you!

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

Couldn't have said it better myself ...

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

Re-reading your comment, I couldn't help but ask a question of myself that maybe somebody out there has some insight on:

Why is it that you have to take more training to become the driver of an automobile than to become a parent?

Tim Higgins said...

kat,

Each of us does what needs to be done when it needs to be done, and you know that as better than most. I make no excuses however for the regrets of my past, only a desire to strive to do better.

kck_kat said...

What I find even more disturbingis the fact that some of these sperm donors continue to be "repeat donors". Often the children end up being removed from both parents and end up in the system. In the meantime, more siblings and half-siblings are being born.
Having worked for the largest child advocacy organization in the world for almost 20 years, and also in a program that helps train parents to be parents, and fathers the importance of being present in the children's lives for the last 14, I am truly surprised at the statistics. This generation has more information about birth control than any before, yet still I witness a large growth in teenage pregnancies and single parent families. I see more aunts, uncles, grandparents, and total strangers taking on parenting responsiblities. I also see parents who choose to have children, but then expect someone else to raise them. When outsiders do step in, the parents call in the ACLU, lawyers, and everyone else they can find and the lawsuits are flying.
Somehow or other, we have to reach the "ME" generation with the message that, when you have children, it is no longer about "ME". It's about them.
I've been told it's a pendulum and that it will swing back, but I've been waiting a long time, and haven't seen it yet, and not for lack of trying to help it along.