We are in a battle for the men of this city. We all know that the wider culture paints men as overweight, sex-obsessed idiots. But there is a cultural norm in the city that perceives fathers (now referred to as ‘baby-daddies’) as unnecessary in the upbringing of a child. This lie is believed by so many of the men and women I encounter. On the flipside, the devastation of that reality on the lives of the adolescents I work with is evident.
Fathers are necessary to the upbringing of their children for a number of reasons. Men are called to be the providers, spiritual leaders, teachers and protectors of their wives and children. They have the unique position of teaching their sons how to be men and teaching their daughters how a man is to treat them.
I don’t mean to discourage single-mothers. Many women who find themselves in this position are there because of no fault of their own and don’t want to be there. Neither do I intend to lay the blame on non-residential fathers. There are often a number of factors that lead to father-absenteeism including mis-guided court decisions. My goal is to high-light this problem and build up the men who are reading not to believe the lies that our culture is selling them that they are an accessory. To be engaged in their children’s lives and be the men God has called them to be.
Lies men believe
- Children are an inconvenience.
- They have nothing of value to offer their children.
- The children’s mother can provide all the parenting they need.
- Fatherhood boils down to physical provision.
- They are not needed.
- They don’t have a purpose in the family.
- They are useless.
Results of children growing up without dad in their lives
Father absence is a term used by researchers to indicate that a child has lived for part or all of their childhood in a house without their biological father.
Researchers conclude that children living in father-absent homes face difficulties in numerous dimensions. The results are nothing short of shocking:
- Diminished self-concept and compromised physical and emotional security – Feelings of abandonment, self-loathing
- Behavioral problems – Difficulty with social adjustment
- Truancy and poor academic performance – 71% of high-school dropouts are from Father-absent homes. They are more likely to be expelled, play truant, leave school at 16 and less likely to achieve qualifications
- Delinquency and youth crime including violent crime – More likely to offend and be incarcerated adults.
- Promiscuity and teen pregnancy – More likely to have intercourse before age 16, be a teen parent, contract STIs. Girls are more susceptible to exploitation by adult men.
- Drug and alcohol abuse – More likely to smoke, drink and abuse drugs.
- Homelessness – 90% of runaways have an absent father.
- Exploitation and abuse – At greater risk of suffering physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
- Physical health problems – Significantly more health symptoms and illnesses.
- Mental health problems – Greater likelihood of anxiety, depression and suicide.
- Life chances – As adults they are more likely to experience unemployment, have low incomes, remain on social assistance and experience homelessness.
- Future relationships – they tend to enter partnerships earlier, more likely to divorce, more likely to have children outside of a relationship or marriage.
- Mortality – More likely to die as children and live a shorter life by an average of four years
Through our youth group, I often ask kids questions about their dads. I ask. What’s your dad’s name? What is he like? What kinds of things do you like to do with your dad? Does he live at home? When’s the last time you saw him? This is not to pry, but it’s to give me insight into what they need and how I can pray for them.
I’m not going to lie, I’m often choking back emotion when I hear the answers. One young man told me that he knows who his dad is, but the man denies it so he considers his brother’s dad (not in the picture either), to be his dad too. How devastating for a boy!
At Steps we are sharing the gospel with men and women, boys and girls, but I know where my fight is. My fight is for the hearts of the men. This might sound sexist, but I assure you it’s not. A lot would change in our communities and our world if men would step into their calling as I described earlier. That’s why it’s so crucial for us to reach the men.