There’s an epidemic that is the root cause for America’s societal ills today, and it’s not what you may think. Can you guess what it is? It’s not capitalism, socialism, environmentalism, or racism.
According to Psychology Today, 71% of high school dropouts and 85% of prison youth are affected by this epidemic. The National Center for Fathering (NCF) tells us. Those affected are also more likely to live in poverty, become obese, become pregnant as a teenager, abuse drugs, and commit suicide.
The epidemic I’m speaking of is fatherlessness. The US census bureau states of the estimated 73 million children living in America, 24 million, or 1 in 3, live without their biological father living in the home. There are 49 million children with a father living in the home on the other end of the spectrum.
While these fathers may be in the home, many of them represent a different type of fatherlessness. The US Bureau of labor shows the average of what an American male does with his day.
Works more than 8 hours a day
Spends more than 4 hours on their mobile devices
2 hours watching television
2 hours were doing household chores
Less than 2 hours were caring for and helping with household children
The amount of time spent with children decreases even more during the weekend when one would assume more time is available. This is the state of fatherhood in our country today, and someone has to do something about it. Why not you, and why not now?
I’ve held many titles in my relatively short life. These include, but are not limited to, husband, son, brother, manager, coach, fighter, and champion. I carry all of these with a great deal of pride, but the one that may carry the most weight and responsibility is the title of dad.
The significance a dad plays in the life of their children cannot be overstated enough. If you doubt any of this, pause here for a moment and think about your relationship with your dad. How many things went right or wrong in your childhood because of your dad’s role in your life. Now take a step back and look at your relationship with your children. What would they say about you if a stranger said, “Tell me about your dad” What do you want them to say about you?
In order for my children to answer that question the way I hoped for, I knew there were several questions I’d need to be able to answer for them. On the surface, these questions sound like “Did you see me, dad?”, “Dad, will you watch me do something?” “Dad, will you check this out?” “Dad, will you help me with something?” “Dad, can I show you something?”. When we dig a little deeper, we learn that children are always asking us questions they don’t even realize.
Men, when your children look at you, they are continually evaluating themselves through your eyes. I can see it in my daughter’s eyes every time they ask me what I think about something they’ve done. From my own experience as a father and talking with other dads (mine included), I think most of these evaluating questions fall into one of three categories.
- Dad, what do you believe about me/what do you think about me?
- Dad, how do you feel about me/Do you love me?
- Dad, what are your hopes for me? Do you think I have a future?
If a dad doesn’t answer these questions for their children, they will find someone who will, and chaos will ensue. We’ve all known that young man, or young girl, overflowing with potential who got caught up with the wrong people who filled the void left by an absent or detached dad.
While the responsibility of being a father can be both mentally and physically draining, we signed up for this “struggle,” whether you realize it or not. When we examine ourselves as men and fathers, it’s very easy to focus on our pitfalls and failures. This process is essential to ensure we’re continually holding ourselves accountable at the highest level.
The caveat to this is to make sure you don’t let yourself get stuck in that place of self-doubt and judgment. Your children don’t expect you to be perfect, and it’s unrealistic to expect this from yourself. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck scrolling through the social media highlight reel thinking this is reality.
I promise you those families have a failure on their minds just like you.
We’re all thinking about those things, well, almost all of us, all except for the kids. The kids are thinking about the four bags of popcorn devoured during yesterday’s family movie night. The multiple UNO games, Go Fish, War, and how you gave them half of your cards when they ran out.
They’re thinking about how safe you made them feel by letting them sleep in your bed when they were scared last night. In the eyes of our children, we are the real superheroes. They may think Captain America, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel are fantastic. Still, we have the opportunity to be the real heroes of their lives. As fathers, we often feel like we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, and in some ways, we are.
Power of Dad
The thing is, it’s probably not in all the ways you’re thinking. The voice and words of a dad have the ability to build a kingdom of confidence & self-worth or a pit of despair in the minds and hearts of our children. The Lord has called us to be the earthly father of his children, which isn’t a responsibility to be taken lightly.
Men, I leave you with this. While you’re running as fast as you can towards the title, promotion, goal, accolade, and a paycheck, all in the name of supporting your children. Make sure you don’t leave them behind. Your legacy as a man will live on far longer through your children than it ever can from accomplishments.
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