“Families need dynamic, caring fathers if we are going to solve the biggest problems we’re facing as a culture today. We need men to do what they were created to do and do it well. We need their time, their dedication, their strength, their grit, and yes, their tenderness and their love.” -Caroline Barnett
Once every year we dedicate a day to remember our fathers. I’m glad we do. The role of a father is irreplaceable.
My own dad has been a priceless gift over the course of my life. I love him dearly. He’s always been a safe place to run to; someone I could lean on when life was hard.
The sad truth is, not everyone has fond memories when their dad comes to mind. Some don’t have any memories at all.
With every passing year in Australia, we are finding more and more families in a fatherhood crisis. The percentage of children living in homes without a father has more than tripled since 1960, and it has affected people of every race and demographic across the board.
As a pastor and minister, I am not shy about speaking up on the importance of fathers as leaders and protectors in the home. But the proven data alone is convincing enough.
Teenagers who grow up with uninvolved or absent fathers are an astounding 250 percent more likely to end up in prison than those who grow up with two parents in the home. We find that this is a common pattern with the teenagers in our Foster and Group Homes, and even with the adults in our recovery programs. Conversely, one study recently showed that kids were 64% less likely to be held back in school if they lived in a home with married parents.
The negative consequences for children and families with an absent father continue to mount up. Children without a dad at home search for love, leadership and belonging in other places. They are more likely to get trapped in a cycle of drug use, commit suicide, perform poorly in school, endure child abuse, join a gang, or end up impoverished and homeless than a child who lives with both mum and dad.
The facts are clear: Dads, we can’t do this without you.
Despite facing numerous challenges and financial hardship when I was a boy my brother and I thrived in post war, working class Sydney because of our parents’ sacrifice and commitment. My father showed me what was truly important in a family. He demonstrated love, protection, and trust. He taught me loyalty and perseverance. Because of his example, I grew confident in my identity and future. Even if we didn’t live in the most affluent neighbourhood, my father worked hard to give me everything I needed.
Families need dynamic, caring fathers if we are going to solve the biggest problems we’re facing as a culture today. We need men to do what they were created to do and do it well. We need their time, their dedication, their strength, their grit, and yes, their tenderness and their love.
I realize that many absent fathers had absent fathers themselves. They don’t know any better, and a vicious cycle continues.
The generational chains need to be broken. The best way to do that is to tell the truth. Tell every father you know that they’re needed, they’re wanted, and that life is harder without them. If we’re going to turn things around, then we must express to men directly, and without hesitation, “We need you and we need you to stick at it as a father no matter what problems you may face either financially, vocationally or in your marriages..”
If fathers step up, take ownership of their role and fight for their children, it’s clear that poverty, violence, substance abuse, and a whole host of issues would significantly improve. It all starts with men understanding there is no replacement for their provision, their care, their sacrifice, and their love.
And dads, I promise you, you’ll get a 10-fold return for every effort you make. Of every job and title you’ll ever hold, the most rewarding one will be fulfilling your role as ‘dad’.
“Honour your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12“Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right. Honour your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4.“A foolish son is grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.” Proverbs 17:25“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son, heartache to his mother.” Prov 10:1
Neil Flower, TRAX Chaplain.