Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Since this weekend is when Father's Day is celebrated, and since I am both a father and a grandfather, I decided to take a bit of the weekend off. Now some may say that this is because in spite of all that's going on in the world, I could come up with nothing worthy of a weekend post or was simply too damn lazy to write one (and there could be a kernel of truth in such an accusation). I would say however, that in looking back in the Just Blowing Smoke archives, I discovered a post from 2008 on this same holiday that bears some repeating. Though the statistics cited are now three years out of date, I suspect that I would be safe in saying that things have only gotten worse in the intervening period. So without further comment, I present it and them for your edification.
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.

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