Fathers matter now more than ever

Put me down as a rather lucky person.  I had the good fortune of growing up with a great father.  He led by example, from being totally responsible to treating our mother with the utmost respect. 

On the subject of women, my dad would tell my brother and me that every woman was someone's mom, grandmother, or sister.  So treat them the way that you would want others to treat your mom, sister, and grandmother.

He also said that a father's job was to tell his sons what they didn't want to hear.  I didn't like that message when I was another teen rebel, but I do appreciate it now more than ever.

As a baby-boomer, I remember that most of my friends had a dad at home.  I'm reminded of this every time I watch TV comedies from the 1950s and 1960s.  There was always a dad around, from the Beaver's dad to Mr. Robinson in "Lost in Space." 

As a father of three boys, I learned that a lot of boys are growing up without fathers.  I saw this on Little League fields and at school events.  In other words, a lot of my sons' friends did not have a father at  home for one reason or another.

As we celebrate another Father's Day, we need to remember that fathers are more than just biological agents.  They are critical in the life of a young man or woman. 

In fact, my friend Rick Johnson has written extensively about the importance of fathers in a young woman's life:

Fathers set a huge role model for their daughters regarding the qualities she looks for in men and the standards she maintains.  He is the first man in her life and models how a man should treat a woman, how a man should act, and how a man shows healthy love and affection to a woman.  He also sets the standard for how a daughter feels she deserves to be treated by men.  He even determines how a girl feels about herself.

Fathers who are active, loving, positive role models in their daughter’s lives provide them with the opportunity to use those character traits as a measuring tape for future men in their lives.  The way in which a man treats his wife speaks volumes to a girl on how she should expect to be treated and valued by men later in her life.  If her father shows that he values her mother as someone worthy of love and respect, a girl will expect that for herself from her husband.  If he exhibits a model of abuse or disrespect for her mother, a girl may feel that she deserves to be treated that way as a wife as well.

And if her father shows his daughter love, respect, and appreciation for who she is, she will believe that about herself as a woman, no matter what anyone else thinks.

A little girl who has her father’s love knows what it’s like to be unconditionally and completely adored by a man.  She knows the feeling of safety that love creates.

Conversely, men who abandon or abuse their daughters set them up for a lifetime of pain, distrust, and feelings of worthlessness.  When men are angry or disrespectful to the females in their families, it sets their daughters up to expect this kind of treatment from all men.  If a man does not provide and protect them, they have no expectations of this behavior from the men they enter into relationships with.  Why would a woman willingly marry a man who can’t or won’t hold a job to support his family?  Why would she intentional marry a man who abuses or abandons her?  Probably, she wouldn’t.  Perhaps that was the type of man that was modeled for her growing up and she is subconsciously attracted to that model, believing she deserves that kind of treatment and is unworthy of anything better.

Overall, children growing up without fathers are more likely to get in trouble and fail, as reported by The National Center for Fathering:

As supported by the data below, children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems.

Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.

The data is there.  Fathers matter, and they matter a lot.

To be fair, all of us know someone who was raised by a single mom.  As I've said many times, single moms should get medals and special recognition for their amazing work in doing a job that was intended for two.  

Today, we remember fathers.  I have a great one.  I will tell him so again today as he recovers from health problems.  I hope that you are lucky enough to see your dad and to tell him how much he meant in your life.

Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there in AT-land!

P. S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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