According to the US Census Bureau 43% of children in the US live without their father. I’ll just let that sink in a bit. When I read it I had to take a breath, blink my eyes, and re-read the sentence. 43%? That’s almost half of the children in this country!
Of course, my investigative instincts fired up immediately. Let’s find ‘em!
But then I thought a bit more.
Let’s face it. Not every father is worth finding. In fact, some are being raised fatherless by choice. Abuse, alcoholism, and overflowing women’s shelters prove that some two-parent households can do more damage than good. Why then, are there so many frightening statistics for these children:
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. of Health/Census)
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (US Dept. of Census)
- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes (CDC)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of HS dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report)
At first glance these numbers, and believe me these are just the tip of the iceberg, seem like we are facing a hopeless situation. Burt we’re not. We’re just looking at it the wrong way.
A father is only the biological donor of a child. He may or may not be the person that child needs in his or her life to grow into a happy, successful adult. In other words, a father may or may not become a DADDY once he fathers a child.
A DADDY is that person we all think of when we think of ideal two-parent households. He plays, he hugs, he throws laughing children up into the air – and he catches them! He is the one who assures his pimple-faced daughter she is beautiful, and cheers for any and all sports no matter what the weather or season.
While no daddy is perfect, his presence in a child’s life is important. He is a male role model for future dads, and helps build up the self-esteem of tomorrow’s moms by constantly reinforcing their importance and potential through a very vulnerable time in their life.
These dads don’t need to be biological, nor do they have to even be married to their mom. Don’t underestimate the value of a boyfriend, a favorite uncle, and even a close friend of the family. These “dads”, or group of “dads”, can become just the village an otherwise fatherless child needs to have an honest answer to the question “who’s your daddy?”
So, to those fatherless adults out there who hope to answer all your questions by finding this person who was absent your whole life, be aware that while you may find your biological father, your “daddy” could be a whole other person or persons. Possibly one who’s been there all along.