Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hoorah for Fathers

It’s Father’s Day and I started the day with waffles with “The Walkers” and then posted a short tribute on Facebook to the fathers/dad’s/daddies in my life and felt called to expand my comments a bit.

In an age where society’s very underpinnings are beginning to look a bit shaky, researchers look for causes and hope we can fix what’s wrong before civilization totally implodes. Statistics have shown some of the problems that have led to the unrest in our culture, and the lack of a male “father figure” seems to be a predictor of some pretty dire consequences. It is widely accepted that children who grow up without a positive male role model in their household may be more likely to fail to graduate from high school, end up in jail, father children out of wedlock, contact STDs and/or be unemployed.

Our family has been exceptionally lucky to manage to have almost exclusively intact households, and the few divorces have resulted in a second and successful intact family later on. In this day and age, I think it’s incredible that all my daughters married men whose parents have had long and apparently happy marriages. They probably never put this on their list of “ideal husband material” characteristics, it just kind of worked out that way. None of those marriages have been perfect…at least not my own…but they were good enough to assure that the families would stay together and that the children would have a father in the home during their formative years, and perhaps truly “until death do us part.”

That’s not to say that persons from “broken homes” can’t have wonderfully intact families themselves if they use the absence of their father to decide that their lives will be different. Perhaps those people, more than those of us from more Ozzie and Harriet households, choose partners who are as different from their dads as possible, and hope that their children will experience what they lacked. Others, I'm sure, are so damaged by their experiences that they find it difficult, if not impossible, to find a suitable mate.

Our generation was brought up with “shame”….over unwed pregnancies, over divorce, over STDs, over not completing our education. I’m not so sure the succeeding generations have gotten the same message. Pop songs no longer sing of a cottage for two where baby makes three or going to the chapel of love. They glorify casual sexual gratification and even violence toward women. Women get the message that they can do very well, thank you, without a man, which is sometimes absolutely so. I’d be willing to bet that those who accomplish that feat are the ones who manage to provide some sort of positive male role model for their children. Those who don’t are much more likely to have those kids we see on the local news every single night in mug shots, or the ones joining street gangs that provide some sort of family structure for them.

I don’t know whether it’s even possible to rebuild our nation’s underpinnings of morality and hard work by just making sure that more marriages last, but it’s certainly worth a try, especially where there are children involved. If the same effort were put into that project as has been put into blocking same sex marriage, perhaps it could be accomplished.

I’m so grateful for all the fathers I have known, beginning with my own and, God willing, it will end with seeing my grandsons as they begin their families and become wonderful fathers too.


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