The Rising Concern of Absentee Fathers

The Rising Concern of Absentee Fathers

Rachel Allison

Every year Father’s Day gives occasion to reflect on the influence and role our dads have played in our lives. My dad certainly wasn’t perfect, but my memories for the most part are positive and endearing. With 10 mouths to feed I can’t say that my father was able to give his four daughters a lot of time…but my four brothers worked side by side with him in the family business. They knew him best, and for this reason it was his sons who spoke at his funeral.  And what sweet memories they highlighted. We all laughed and cried at the recollections.

Because my dad played such an important roll in my life, I can never judge those whose fathers were absent.  Whether because of death, divorce, selfishness, or apathy the problems caused by absentee fathers are being headlined.

“According to a 1996 Gallup poll, 79.1 percent of Americans feel “The most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home. This number is up from 69.0 percent in 1992.”

“Not even discussing the emotional, spiritual, and physical ramifications of such concerns, the financial statistics reveal that the estimated cost of absentee fathers to the federal government is $100 billion.”

English writer G.K. Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936)  called the family ‘the original department of health, education and welfare.” Something is tragically wrong with our society when it is fast becoming a norm for fathers to turn their family responsibilities over to the federal government.   I know that compassion dictates that someone pick up the pieces of broken lives and homes, but the federal government?   What would happen if no one had responded? What if, instead, social pressure demanded that fathers remained responsibly involved in their children’s lives? What if instead of handing over a welfare check fathers were given classes on the “importance of being dads” and “how to” courses that teach them their responsibilities….Is their even a remote chance that dead-beat dads would step up and accept their roll as head of their home?

The roll of father needs a “face-lift.” This needs to be an “in-your-face” campaign that spreads coast to coast.  Television “sit coms” need to change their “mindless, useless father humor.” Hollywood needs to make more and more and more movies that stress the importance of fathers staying with their families through thick and thin. Churches should stress every Sunday just how important is the roll of father. And if the government wants to get in the act and REALLY make a difference “fathering courses” can and should be mandatory before any financial aid is given.

I don’t know if it would work, but in my humble opinion, it’s certainly a better suggestion than just handing out a monthly check to a struggling family whose needs are much broader than lack of money.

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