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Monday, February 8, 2010

The Epidemic of Fatherless Homes

So, there's been an issue on my mind for some time now, and it concerns why fathers leave and/or abandon their families, especially their children. I find myself thinking, How can a father feel so disconnected from their own child(ren) that he would pick up and leave to never or rarely be seen again? What makes a father think that they are not responsible for the well being of the child they conceived?

There is a sense of bitterness on my part, because I myself grew up in a fatherless home. I had a very loving mother and two amazing Grandparents who raised me the best way that they knew how. I am very proud of the life I had and the three people who raised me, but I still feel a certain void from the lack of father in my life.

I found myself wondering exactly how many people are affected by fatherless homes. I did some research and found this:

One in three American children live in fatherless homes.

63% of all youth suicides, 71% of pregnant teenagers, 90% of all homeless and runaway children, and 71% of all high school drop outs come from fatherless homes.

I wonder if these youths who are affected by suicide, teen/unplanned pregnancy, homelessness, etc., feel like they do not have enough support with a single parent and feel a sense of abandonment. With all the support my mom gave me over the years and having my grandparents at every one of my school events, I still felt a void.

What initially triggered my thoughts on this topic was watching Teen Mom on MTV. One of the moms on the show tried to make it work with her child's father, but they were not able to work out their relationship, so they separated. Dr. Drew was hosting the reunion episode and was asking the parents several questions about their relationship. The mother did not understand why the father did not feel as connected and "in love with" their son as she did. Dr. Drew then asked the father what it was like to be a dad and he replied "sometimes its hard and its an obligation".

Dr. Drew then went on to say that men feel differently about being parents and started to explain why they do not feel the need to be around their children. This to me is complete bullshit. I love Dr. Drew, I think what he is saying is true, but if so, then this new "syndrome" of fathers feelings is a pretty new development in our culture.

What happened to people actually taking responsibility for their actions? I am definitely not a fan of couples getting married and staying married "for the kids". That's like an addict going to rehab for their kids or family. It won't work unless the person is in it for themselves. Children are happier with "happily divorced" parents. When the mother and father day they are staying together for the kids, they are only making the situation worse in the long run because they are not happy and the child learns to mimic an unhappy relationship. Parents can be separated, divorced, what have you, and both still put in adequate time for their children. What I am saying is if you are a young parent and you choose to keep your child, you need to take responsibility. The mother of the child takes on the pregnancy and birth of the child and then must raise the child. While this gives so much joy and love to a mother, it is also very stressful. It took two to make that baby, why can't they participate in after-the-fact. The idea that they do not put forth an effort or take responsibility makes me sick.

Sure, they can be there and have fun conceiving the child and its all fun and games, but when the consequences of their actions catch up to them, it's too much of an obligation, so they run away.

While being a mother is very different from being a father, the obligation to provide for and be there for your son or daughter is the same, whether you are ready to become a parent or not, if you choose to be a parent, you need to accept the responsibility. Just because a father does not have the same biological connection to their child, that does not mean they have less of a responsibility.

I think the men in our culture need to "man-up" and stop the non-sense and excuses. I don't care if your feelings are different. You still need to be there and be supportive. What do you think the mother feels like when she needs to take on the responsibility alone? Granted communication would help in situations like this and we all know Americans suck at that. We update our status instead of calling people and we break up with people over facebook and we make blogs.

But in the long run, a father needs to know his duty to his child and accept it. Bottom line: if you can lift weights in the gym and show off your muscles to the ladies, maybe you should use what you have to hold your child.


Read this article if you want really good statistics about fatherless homes, and if you're thinking of leaving your family and want religious advice/explanations:

AND in case you're wondering about the episode of Teen Mom I referenced...

Have a good Valentines day week everyone :)