15 Jun Missing Dads
Kevin was typically the only dad regularly at lunch with our boys during elementary school. In fact, the table would wind up crowded with little boys, listening raptly to his stories. And in the mornings, before the school bus would come, he’d be in front of our house, throwing the football with our sons or playing foursquare with the neighborhood kids. He still gets teary-eyed about those memories. When he talks about those special times, I often think about how precious few children have those kinds of memories about their dads. I read not long ago that the average American father spends just a few minutes a week engaged with his child or children.
Dads – or even father figures – are in short supply. The numbers of children being raised in a single-parent home — primarily by mothers – are staggering. Before the states stepped in their mothers or grandmothers were raising most of the teens I encounter in foster care. Rarely does anyone even mention Dad, and if a father does come up in conversation, it’s usually not in a positive way.
I am concerned, because an entire generation is growing up without a concept of what a caring father looks like. Look at the fathers portrayed on television – they are buffoons, jerks, incompetents or molesters. Even in commercials, the dad is invariably portrayed as a lazy dolt – usually overweight and out of touch – waiting for his wife to tell him what to do. I cringe when I see those commercials.
When I survey the volunteer world working with kids in foster care and homeless youth, I primarily see women. Don’t get me wrong — kids need all the caring adults they can get in their lives. I just wish that more men would take the time to invest in our children. All kids – and especially boys and young men – need father figures to teach them how real men, worthy of respect, navigate life.
Here’s how Sam Bracken, with whom I co-authored My Orange Duffel Bag and co-founded Orange Duffel Bag Foundation (www.ODBF.org), went about finding the father figures in his life: http://blog.beliefnet.com/