June 11, 2014

Father's Day

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Since the very first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910, families across our nation have acknowledged and celebrated great dads, husbands, grandfathers, uncles, and American family men each year in June. Fathers are incredibly important in the lives of children, and their devotion to their sons and daughters is too often undervalued. Fathers provide their children with unconditional love, encouragement, and guidance. They are filled with pride when their sons and daughters succeed and help them stand up again when they fall short. I hope that this Sunday, we can all take the time to appreciate the special men in our lives who have inspired and supported us.

Over the past several years, fathers across the U.S. have become more present in the lives of their kids. The number of self-described stay-at-home fathers in the United States has more than doubled during the last decade; but keep in mind that even that number does not account for the men working at least part time who are also the primary caregivers for their children. In the United States, 35 percent of children are members of single-parent families, and 17 percent of those single parents are men.  A single parent has to work twice as hard.  Every devoted father deserves to be appreciated, but a special recognition goes out to the single fathers who have to play the roles of both dad and mom.  A father’s involvement in his children’s lives has a wide range of positive effects, including fewer behavioral problems and higher achievement scores.  Dads are extremely important in the growth and success of our country’s children.

While many fathers are becoming more involved in their children’s lives, fatherlessness continues to be a growing crisis across the country and is particularly prevalent in the African-American community.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in three children live in homes in which their biological fathers are absent.  That adds up to 24 million fatherless children.  President Obama acknowledged his frustration with the growing number of missing fathers who have abandoned their responsibilities, weakening the foundations our families and communities.  His fatherhood pledge recognizes the impact that adults can have on their community’s young people, emphasizing the importance of family.  The president’s fatherhood pledge can be found here: https://www.fatherhood.gov/pledge

I probably do not have to tell you that children raised without fathers are more likely to be impoverished than those raised by two parents. These children are more likely to be involved in criminal activities, and are less likely to succeed academically and emotionally.  It is for these reasons that we especially appreciate the single parents, working twice as hard to support their children and keep them on the right track.  I hope that all fathers in my district will actively take the time to be a positive influence in their children’s lives. None of us are perfect parents, and we all make our share of mistakes. But the biggest mistake would be leaving a child fatherless.  Don’t make that mistake – instead, be the loving and supportive dad that your child needs and deserves.

Fathers who are looking for ways to be more involved in their children’s lives can try activities such as helping with homework or reading a book together.  Simply engaging your child is a great way to start.  And for the dads that are already active members in their children’s lives, keep it up!  We congratulate you, and we appreciate the positive impact you’ve made.  I am confident that a year from now, we can look back and say that our fathers and families have become even stronger. Thank you and Happy Father’s Day!

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