I have strong feelings about the importance of dads being in the home. That’s partly because of my experiences. I’ve seen the impact of fatherlessness up close and personal. My stepdad abandoned me and my siblings within hours of my mother’s funeral. A few years later, my biological father died of alcoholism, and I spent time in foster care.
My views are reinforced by the data. Every scientific measurement of child well-being around the globe consistently reveals that fatherlessness is profoundly harmful to children and society.
- 25% of households in America are fatherless.
- 85% of all youth in prison come from fatherless homes.
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.
- Children from fatherless homes are four times more likely to live in poverty.
Dr. Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project says that the best research shows that for all races, kids who live with a married mother and father are less likely to live in poverty or spend time in jail. They are more likely to graduate from high school and successfully enter the workforce, and they are dramatically more likely to attend college.
This is particularly true for young black males. A study by the Institute for Family Studies detailed the importance of fathers in the lives of black children:
- Black boys are almost half as likely to end up incarcerated and twice as likely to go on and graduate from college. Similar statistics apply to black girls.
- Black children from stable two-parent homes do better than white children from single-parent homes when it comes to their risk of poverty or prison, and their odds of graduating from college.
- Without a father in the home, black children are three times more likely to be poor, compared to black children raised by their own married parents.
The discouraging news about fatherlessness is rivaled only by the good news when dad is present. Exciting new research shows that fathers make a big impact in the transmission of their faith to the next generation.
Dr. Vern Bengstonof the University of Southern California says:
- Fifty-sex percent of fathers and children who have close relationships also share the same level of religious participation.
- If that father-child relationship is weak, the faith aspect drops by 20%.
- Dr. Bengston’s studies also show that “father-closeness” mattered more than “mother-closeness” (although the importance of mothers should never be minimized).
The best news of all is that it is possible to be a good Dad, even if you didn’t have one. The Lord wants us to learn from our experiences, so that He can teach us and bring good even from less-than-ideal circumstances.
On the Focus on the Family Broadcast “The Importance of Fathering Well,” we’re airing a recorded message I gave at the 36th Annual Homeschool Convention of the Home Educator’s Association of Virginia where I shared lessons I learned growing up with three negative father figures, and how the Lord turned those bad experiences into motivation to be a good dad to my two sons.
I also encourage you to take a free parenting assessment available here at our website. It will quickly give you an overview of how your family is doing in several key areas and offer some suggestions on how you can improve the relationships in your home.
If today’s program whets your appetite to become a better dad, let me encourage you to go see a new movie from The Kendrick Brothers, who have produced great pro-faith films like Overcomer and Fireproof. Their documentary, Show Me the Father, opens tonight in theaters across North America. The film explores five powerful true stories about earthly fathers, including my testimony, and explains how God is the perfect Father. I was involved with the film because I know that God can be a father to men longing for His love, and I want the next generation to hear that message. I know you’ll be blessed by this film!
My book The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be. It’s available for a gift of any amount. Visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).