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The Role of Fathers Still Unappreciated

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The Role of Fathers Still Unappreciated

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As people across the world celebrate Fathers Day, statistics show that fathers continue to be underappreciated.

An international long distance carrier reported that in 2006 phone calls routed over its network revealed that people spent 48% more time calling home on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. Mother’s Day continued to rank within the five busiest call volume days—whereas Fathers Day failed to make into the top twenty.

But exactly how important is the role of fathers in rearing sons and daughters?

The National Fatherhood Initiative reports that a father’s involvement in a child’s life affects every aspect of mental, social, psychological and physical development.

Consider the following statistics:

  • Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school.

  • Obese children are more likely to live in father-absent homes than are non-obese children.

  • A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their fathers.

  • Children that grow up in fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor.

  • Youths in households without an active father figure had significantly higher odds of being incarcerated than those in two-parent families.

  • Teenage girls in the United States and New Zealand who grow up without fathers were twice as likely to engage in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to become pregnant as an adolescent.

Additionally, in a survey of 701 fathers across the U.S., the Initiative found that

  • 91% of respondents agreed there is a father-absence crisis in the nation.

  • 81% agreed that men generally perform better as fathers if they are married to the mothers of their children.

  • 99% of fathers agreed that being a father was a very important part of who they are.

Several of our findings should be of concern to responsible fatherhood organizations and might be an appropriate basis for some refocusing of efforts within the fatherhood movement, the report stated.

For instance, more than half of the fathers seemed to think that mothers or other men could adequately substitute for them—not the optimal point of view for motivating involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.

Researchers found especially troubling the belief among respondents with graduate degrees and high income that fathers were replaceable. This group, which is more likely to have an influence on every aspect of society, was also less likely to believe there is a father-absence crisis in the country than medium and low-income respondents.

Across the world, the numbers tell the same story. At the International Fatherhood Summit in Britain, experts provided an international sampling of fatherhood statistics:

  • A review of 156 cultures concluded that only 20% of these societies promoted men’s close relationships with infants.

  • South American countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia, maintain the lowest percentages of childhood years spent without a father, while African countries boast the highest, reaching over 30%.

Although the role of fathers is not taken as seriously as it should be, statistics from the United States Bureau of the Census demonstrate that some fathers are doing their part. In 2003, for instance, 30% of children younger than age six living with married parents ate breakfast with their fathers every day; 63% of children six years or younger received praise from their fathers three times a day.

The numbers, however, told a different story about the family unit: 2.5 million fathers were single parents—up from only 400,000 in 1970.

The following excerpt, taken from our Prophetic Trends and Conditions Report Assault on the Family, describes the implications for society:

The family institution is failing. One of the fundamental reasons is that parents are either unable or unwilling to properly parent—in other words, to put their own personal priorities beneath those of their marriages, their families and, ultimately, their children.

If you are a parent, make sure that you have the right priorities. When you get married and decide to have children, you have made the decision—whether you have consciously realized and admitted it or not—to rear them as best as you can. You have brought them into the world, and properly rearing them is your responsibility. All the physical possessions you gain in your life, the riches and the material things, are not permanent. But your children will live on, and they, in turn, will also have children, who will have children, and so on. The parenting decisions you make will affect generations to come.

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