Alabama Family Rights Association

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Where is Daddy?
(The Importance of Fathers in Children's lives)

There has been a growing trend in the American society that is frightening. This can be seen in the priorities that Americans place on holidays. There is Christmas and Easter, Thanksgiving, Hanuka, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and then there is Father's Day. All of the holidays mentioned here are well advertised and highly celebrated except for Father's Day. Oh yes, there are commercials for Father's Day cards and sales but compared to the other holidays, Father's Day is the least publicized. The American society has always been a patriarchal society, based on the Biblical standards of the family structure, yet now it is becoming a matriarchal society. Society is placing more and more importance on the role of mothers in children's lives while effectively diminishing the role of fathers in children's lives. There has been a growing trend in absenteeism of fathers in children's lives. Not only has there been an increase in unwed parenting, which normally results in a single mother households, but there has also been an increase in divorce which has also in the past led to a single mother household. "It is ironic, and of some interest, that we have subjected joint custody to a level and intensity of scrutiny that was never directed toward the traditional post-divorce arrangement (sole legal and physical custody to the mother and two weekends each month of visiting to the father). Developmental and relationship theory should have alerted the mental health field to the potential immediate and long range consequences for the child of only seeing a parent four days each month. And yet, until recently, there was no particular challenge to this traditional post-divorce parenting arrangement, despite growing evidence that such post-divorce relationships were not sufficiently nurturing or stabilizing for many children and parents." The recent trend gives the impression that the growing attitude in this society is "Why do we need fathers? Women can fulfill all the needs of the children." It is only recently that fathers have begun to fight for their rights as a parent and the effects of the fatherless family has become evident. The reason that fathers have become more adamant in their fights for their rights, is because fathers did not realize they had the right to maintain that close relationship with their children when the courts ordered the sole custody of the children to go to the mother. The respect for the court as the final authority is being challenged because fathers have seen the effects that divorce is having on their children and they love their children and desire to be a part of their lives. When the courts took away their parental rights, it devastated both the fathers and the children. It is important in the development of children that fathers are involved in their children's lives. Studies have indicated that the absenteeism of fathers from the family has a dramatic effect on the development of the children. There are both short term and long term effects. "30% of the children in the present study experienced a marked decrease in their academic performance following parental separation, and this was evident three years later." Children also begin a pattern of depression and confusion at the loss of their other parent. "The results of the present study suggest that father loss through divorce is associated with diminished self-concepts in the children." There are other staggering statistics on the effects of a fatherless household has on the children. 90% of all homeless and runaway children 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders 85% of all youths in prisons 80% of rapists with displaced anger 75% of all adolescent drug rehabilitation 71% of all high school dropouts 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions 63% of all youth suicides These statistics show that fatherless homes are ravaging today's youth. No longer can we have the attitude that we do not need fathers. Fathers are vitally important in the well-being of our youth which are the future of our society. Children need the stable balance of having both a mother figure and a father figure in their lives. "Children in single parent households fail to learn the role of the other parent, and the gender traits of responsible adults who have mastered the caring arts which are so necessary to achieve stable, loving two parent intact families." Divorce has led to many problems in today's youth. The system, which has not been challenged until recently, has propitiated the notion that fathers are not needed by the children. They have done this through their past custody rulings. The fathers were shut out of their children's lives except for the two weekends each month. Children only had contact with their fathers for four days each month except maybe some telephone calls. The courts presented the attitude that fathers were only good for the procreation of these children and money to support the mother and the children. Today these views are being challenged by fathers who want to have a deeper relationship with their children past being a check in the mail. Fathers are protesting that they are important to the emotional well-being of their children and being a part of their lives is important to them. They no longer want to be restricted to the four days a month that the courts have perpetrated on them, but they want to be allowed to show the children that they have not abandoned them but that they love them and care about their future. Boys generally lack the important role model of how to be a good father and a good man. "Among teenage and adult populations of females, parental divorce has been associated with lower self-esteem, precocious sexual activity, greater delinquent-like behavior, and more difficulty establishing gratifying, lasting adult heterosexual relationships. It is especially intriguing to note that, in these studies, the parental divorce typically occurred years before any difficulties were observed." For the courts, the father has traditionally simply been a paycheck to support the lifestyle of the mother and the children. This shows to the children how unimportant fathers are to them. Boys see that men are unimportant in the relationship to the family and girls see that they do not need a man to help raise a family. "Children raised in a single parent household have an 80% probability of later raising their own children in a single parent household too. Single parent households grow like a cancer in the absence of a powerful remedy. Welfare has proven to be no remedy, but is rather an accelerant to this exploding problem." Also the child support system perpetuates this fatherless household and although it is supposed to help the economics of the family, it makes it even worse. There are now two households being supported by two incomes. The intact family is the best remedy to today's economic situation because then there is one household being supported by two incomes. The child support system ensures that both households struggle economically and also deprives the child of an essential aspect in their lives, their father. When a non-custodial parent is unable to pay the amount of support that the court has deemed proper, they criminalize that parent. "A parent in jail, or deprived of a license, is simply unable to provide any income or emotional support to their children; and the children get the message that government only wants to destroy that parent. Boys in particular get the shattering message that they too will become destroyed when they grow up and stupidly become fathers. Girls get the warped message that they may freely become breeder mommies through government sanctioned meal tickets via gouging child support which often can never be fully collected. The net effect on our children becomes distorted values, and a life time distrust in government, or distrust in the opposite gender." This battery of the children by the system creates the social problems that are occurring in increasing numbers in today's society. As you can see by the statistics of the fatherless family and the percentage of suicides, substance abuse, imprisonment, homelessness and runaways of the youth of today the fatherless family is producing these social problems that the government is creating programs to try to correct. However, they are trying to correct the problem once it has started instead of stopping the problems at the source. Allowing children to have equal access to each parent is essential to the decrease in society's woes. As stated earlier, single parent households perpetuate themselves, thereby perpetuating the problems in today's society and with each generation increases in volume. It is time for fathers to be recognized as humans and as essential parts of their children's emotional and social stability. Fathers must be seen as men who love and care about their children and long to have meaningful relationships with them. Fathers have been struggling over the recent years to maintain that closeness to their children which the court and society has taken from them in the past. Motherhood has always been highly valued in societies throughout time and now, for the sake of our future and the precious children, we must allow fathers to hold their rightful place in society and the lives of our children. Fathers must continue to take a stand to be a part of their children's lives, for their welfare. Some of these statistics would lend itself to more fathers having custody. Because fathers love their children, they must continue to fight to maintain a close relationship with their sons and daughters to ensure their emotional and social stability. The government will only change their views on the importance of fathers in the children's lives if fathers continue to take a stand and speak up for themselves. When fathers continue to band themselves together to fight for the right to remain fathers to their children and not just a child support check, then the children and consequently our society will prosper. Fathers cannot allow feminist and other groups that are not family-friendly to impose their views on the rest of society and abuse fathers through their slanderous remarks against fathers. If fathers give up fighting because of the stress and the abuse that they go through, it is the children and the fathers that will suffer and then our whole society suffers. The court system should be a family friendly system, not simply a mother-friendly system. This is why we have to continue to stand up and say, in a loud voice, "FATHERS MATTER!" Write senators and congress to show them the statistics of the importance that fathers have in their children's lives. Let your voices be heard! They are our children too!

Written by: Rev. Dennis Austin

Special thanks to: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census Center for Disease Control Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978
National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools Rainbows for all God's Children
U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, September 1998 Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations
Texas Dept. of Corrections
Bob Burke CPSA/CRC-NH Children's Self Concepts: Are They Affected by Parental Divorce and Remarriage
Thomas S. Parish, Journal of Social behavior and Personality, 1987, V 2, #4, 559-562
Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children: A Developmental Vulnerability Model Neil Kalter, Ph.D., University of Michigan, American Journal of Orthopsychiaty, 57(4), October, 1987

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