June 2009 – Fact: The United States is home to 62 million fathers.
Fact: About 25 million children live in homes without their fathers, making the United States the world leader in fatherless homes.
Fact: Seventy-two percent of Americans consider fatherlessness to be the most significant family or social problem facing the country.
The National Center for Fathering (NCF), a non-profit, scientific and educational organization, has research to back the population’s opinion.
According to NCF, “Children from fatherless homes are more likely to suffer from poverty, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.”
Conversely, children whose fathers are involved in their lives are: “more confident and less anxious in unfamiliar settings; better able to deal with frustration; better able to gain a sense of independence and an identity outside the mother-child relationship; more likely to mature into compassionate adults; more likely to have higher self-esteem and grade point averages; and more sociable.”
Simply put, a child will thrive when she has a father that loves, knows, guides and helps her.
Therefore, NCF believes every child needs a dad she can count on, which is why Dr. Ken Canfield established NCF in 1990 as a response to America’s dramatic trend toward fatherlessness.
“Today, the Center provides practical, research-based training and resources … [for] men in virtually every fathering situation, …” an NCF press release stated. “The Center reaches more than one millions dads annually through seminars, small-group training, the WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, our daily radio programs, and award-winning Web site [www.fathers.com] and weekly e-mail.”
“We inspire and equip men to be involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures that children need,” explained NCF CEO Carey Casey.
The Center’s current initiative is Championship Fathering, an effort to change the culture for today’s children and the children of coming generations by reaching, teaching and unleashing 6.5 million dads who will be committed to loving and coaching their children, modeling for their children, encouraging other children, and enlisting other dads to join the team. The purpose is to create a national movement that can reverse society’s negative trends.
Casey has also written a book titled Championship Fathering, which uses personal stories and revealing research to educate men on the most important and rewarding position they will ever play.
As a matter of fact
NCF is about fathers … all fathers, from all walks of life, because deep down most fathers share a strong innate desire to care for their children. But unfortunately, they fall prey to the world and gravitate toward selfishness, especially when the going gets tough.
“Look at the onslaught from Satan, himself – how he has attacked marriage,” Casey added. “Marriage was the first institution that God made before He made the church, and I firmly believe that’s why Satan, as well as our culture, battles against marriage.”
One by one, states are legalizing same-sex marriage, and by doing so, Casey believes they are minimizing marriage while removing both a father and mother from the home. By becoming so receptive of divorce, children are growing up in single-parent homes, usually with their mother. When these children get older, they see no reason to marry because so many marriages end in divorce. Therefore they justify having children out of wedlock. It’s a cyclical crisis.
“Because we have a culture of fatherlessness, kids are having to raise kids, and that’s not how God designed it,” Casey said. “God made a man and a woman to produce a baby, … so He greatly desires to have a man and a woman raise that child.
“Fathers are to pick up the mantle to strengthen the family,” Casey added. “A mother cannot do it on her own. We commend the mothers for the strong work they have done in the past, are doing now and will do. … But research shows it, and it’s Biblical, that a father is to be the head of the home.”
“Yet there are still a lot of pews filled with women and children without dads,” added Durick Hayden, who was trained by NCF and now serves as director of the Fatherhood Initiative for Lee County, Mississippi. “There are so many men who want to say that ‘church’ is the wife’s job. The Word of God tells us very plainly that men have been commissioned to do that in partnership with their wives.”
The truth of the matter
“Men like to achieve and win; yet many dads feel like they’re failures, and they will want to quit unless they have another dad or person who can prod [and encourage] them,” Casey explained.
This is exactly what Hayden, Casey and NCF are seeking to do.
For those fathers who have failed in so many areas of their lives, there is still hope. Hayden offers this hope week after week through the two local fathering classes he teaches based on Canfield’s book and curriculum titled “7 Secrets of Effective Fathers.”
Although no father is perfect, there are some men who stand out as highly effective fathers. So Canfield researched the practices and attitudes of over 5,000 fathers across the U.S. in an attempt to identify what makes a father effective. His conclusions are summed up as the following seven secrets:
1) Commitment – Being committed to your family and understanding your responsibility for the health of the home;
2) Knowing your child – Knowing such things as your children’s spiritual gifts, learning style, closest friend, greatest fear and vocational dreams;
3) Consistency – Being the same person in church circles as you are at work or among friends;
4) Protecting and providing – Protecting your children spiritually, emotionally, physically and providing them what they truly need;
5) Loving their mother – Honoring, cherishing, respecting and listening to the mother of your children, even if there has been divorce; if you are married to their mother, loving her as Christ loved the Church and placing her needs above your own;
6) Active listening – Truly listening to your children by turning off “the noise” (stereos, iPods, TVs, the newspaper);
7) Spiritual equipping – Modeling forgiveness and failure, obeying the Lord, encouraging the family to attend church, and reading the Bible and praying.
But these are not things men can conjure up or accomplish on their own.
“I say to the men, ‘Look, I can tell you all that you want to hear and say all the right words, but until you understand that Jesus Christ is the only means that is going to be able to help you in any of this, it’s all moot,’” Hayden explained.
Hayden is frank, yet compassionate, in hopes of introducing these men to the one who should be their “first love” – Jesus Christ. “If you have your first love, then you’ve got God at the center of your life. He’s your priority. After that, if you’re married, your wife is second and then your children. If you have that in order, you’ve got a balance,” Hayden said.
And it produces a ripple effect because strong fathers yield strong families; strong families yield strong churches; strong churches yield strong communities; and strong communities yield a strong country.
Looking at the role of fatherhood from that perspective can be intimidating and even unrealistic to men who find themselves far from being an effective dad.
“But the greatest challenge that you, fathers, have before you is not looking back but looking forward at the opportunity God has given you to be changed and to make your familial relationship the best it can possibly be for your children,” Hayden challenged. “It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it.”
▶ Tell your child how thankful you are for her and how she has blessed you.
▶ Encourage other fathers.
▶ Know three fundamentals of an effective dad: loving, coaching and modeling.
▶ Single men, be father figures to fatherless children through organizations such as YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the National Center for Fathering.
▶ Remember that a child is the most valuable possession a parent has.
▶ Value the opportunity your children take to talk to you more than what they’re talking about. To a child, the issue is not really why the sky is blue, rather the issue is being able to talk to Daddy.
▶ Be a protector and provider. It’s not about how much money you make; rather it’s about how consistently you provide for your family.
▶ Love your child’s mother for the child’s sake.
▶ Don’t believe the lie that when things get tough, you leave.
▶ Understand that you can learn to become a good father.
▶ Recognize Jesus as the ultimate father figure.
▶ Know that girls needs their fathers every bit as much as boys do.
▶ Teach your daughter what kind of man to marry by being that type of man.
▶ Forgive your own father for his failings.
▶ Keep in mind that your father was also someone else’s son.
▶ The most valuable things you have to give your child is yourself and your time.