Life without Dad can be lethal.
That’s the conclusion of Anthony Bradley, posting at WORLDmag.com last year*. According to his research,
• 60 percent of rapists . . .
• 63 percent of youth suicides . . .
• 70 percent of long-term prison inmates . . .
• 71 percent of high school dropouts . . .
• 72 percent of adolescent murderers . . .
• 85 percent of youths in prison, and . . .
• 90 percent of homeless and runaway children come from homes without dads.
He’s talking about the fallout in homes with fathers who choose to be absent, not those where the father is deceased.
“The level of correlation between fatherlessness and social pathologies should be a call to arms,” he wrote. “The future of civil society hangs in the balance. Churches and community organizations lacking specific, directed initiatives to build and support virtuous fathers forfeit the right to complain about America’s social problems.”
And, while physical absence is the most obvious symptom of a fatherless home, all of us know families where the father is emotionally or spiritually distant if not absent. Their children are also at risk, and Father’s Day is a perfect time to address them.
Mother’s Day is often a bigger deal in churches than Father’s Day. Perhaps this is because fewer of us have been damaged by dysfunctional mothers than fathers. Maybe it’s because we feel warm and wonderful about beautiful flowers and sweet sentiments for Mom. But dealing with dads is a different issue. Too many dads need a wake-up call more than a bouquet.
Some of these fathers are church leaders. “Workaholic” can apply to ministers and elders just as easily as to corporate executives and traveling salesmen. Most of us know at least one child from such a home who felt neglected by a dad who was always helping someone else.
But Cheryl Moen’s testimony is a reminder that a minister need not choose between his flock and his family. Somehow, in spite of all he gave to the world around him, Cheryl’s dad nurtured her too. More than one young minister today needs to see such an example. When kids (and their moms) are a part of Dad’s service—not an interruption to it or an escape from it—they can feel good about all he gives, and about what he asks them to give too.
Here’s an idea for church leaders who want to take up the challenge of fatherless families: start at home. Decide how your own children can be spared the scourge of living with a dad who’s too often just not there.