Fathers and the Fatherless
May 12, 2012
This is a guest post from Christine Niles. She is a writer and project manager with a heart for orphans, and a mother of two girls adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. Christine blogs about adoption, parenting, and writing at www.riverofthoughts.com. Follow her on Twitter @croyseniles.
May is a month for mothers.
Flowers spring up, baby birds hatch. Kids everywhere make mother’s day cards and awful crafts that mothers proudly cherish.
May is full of mothers. So full of mothers that we often forget that fathers are a pretty important part of it, too. We’ll throw them a slab of meat and a baseball game next month. Their part is done, right?
It’s all too easy to forget the incredibly critical role that fathers play in the family. Unfortunately, we live in a world where fathers are like the Yeti. Big, hairy. Mythical.
While we’ve come a long way from the Mad Men era where men work long hours and ogle their secretaries and have three-martini-lunches, the Cause of the Man hasn’t really advanced that much. We now live in a world where fathers are just disappearing.
In 1960, less than 10% of US children relied on a single parent.*
In 50 years, that percentage has tripled.
According to the 2010 Census, over 20 million kids** are growing up in homes with only one parent left to do it all. And almost all of those are mothers.
Children need two parents.
So much so that the United Nations Children’s Fund defines an orphan as “a child who has lost one or both parents.” That speaks volumes to the importance of the protection a father provides.
Now, I’m not saying that single parenting isn’t possible. I’m certainly not saying that a child is better off not being born, or that there aren’t super-people (both men and women) admirably raising children on their own due to a multitude of circumstances. A good parent is better than two bad ones, or none.
But what I am saying, men, is that you’re critical in the lives of kids.
Too many boys who grow up in environments where single mothers are the norm, where the men “do their part” and move on…they grow up to do the same. And the girls who grow up never seeing a man take responsibility for the family or be a leader? Well, they just don’t expect that from any man in their life either. The cycle repeats. The cycle expands.
Do we want that for our children? Of course not. But we have to acknowledge that we live in a world that’s fallen. Where we live with the consequences of the choices that each one of us makes, and that we all make as a body.
We live in a world where we get back what we put in…as a body.
As Christians, we are called to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress.
That’s not an accident, guys.
When Ben asked me to ramble on here, I thought, what can I say to men about orphans? If we’re being totally honest, women are seen as the “caretakers.” All those commercials with Sally Strothers crying? They’re targeted at women. But I think Sally was missing the boat. She skipped over half of the population.
Men are critical in the call to care for orphans.
You don’t have to be a father to care for a kid. Or even a whole bunch of kids.
You just have to be a man.
A man chasing after God’s heart. A leader. A pray-er.
A man who stands up today and says “I will.”
- I will serve a kid who doesn’t have a father.
- I will serve a mom who doesn’t have any other help.
- I will serve to show that men can make a difference.
- I will serve and prove that a man’s word means something.
Where can you be a man today? Leave a comment…
*1960 Census Data: Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_parent
**2010 Census Data: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc1.asp