No Replacement For Time
“Some fathering advocates would say that almost every social ill faced by America’s children is related to fatherlessness.”
The statistics reveal that over 20 million children in the U.S. are living in a fatherless home. The social ills referred to above are linked specifically to an increase in:
Poverty: 44% more likely to raise children living in poverty
Substance Abuse: 71% of all adolescent substance abusers come from a fatherless home
Physical and Emotional Health: 80% of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes. These children are 2x more likely to commit suicide. Educational Achievement: 9x more likely to drop out of school.
Crime: 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes. They are 11x more likely to have violent behavior and 20x more likely to be incarcerated.
Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy: 70% of teen pregnancies happen in fatherless homes. They are 9x more likely to be raped or sexually abused in a home without a biological father.
The numbers can become daunting when wondering if things will ever get better. We can shake our head at the news or try and protect our own families, but we cannot escape the reality that surrounds our very own community. What do we think about these numbers representing real lives?
Break Bread at Home to Increase Margin
Studies show that fathers devote significantly less time than mothers to child care including an average of seven hours per week for fathers, compared with 14 hours per week for mothers. Interestingly, both mothers and fathers feel a shared sentiment, they both feel rushed. Between work schedules, homework and after school activities who can blame? However, something as simple as eating dinner together as a family can make a significant difference. We’ve learned that eating as a family helps reduce stress, increase healthy family communication, increase the knowledge and consumption of healthier foods, help one monitor portion control, increase school performance, and significantly decrease the chance of substance abuse. As an important note, keep in mind that if the television is on, all bets are off. The Washington Post reported the need for dinner as a family despite the many changes in our culture, “In most industrialized countries, families don’t farm together, play musical instruments or stitch quilts on the porch. So dinner is the most reliable way for families to connect and find out what’s going on with each other.” In a survey, American teens were asked when they were most likely to talk with their parents and dinner was their top answer. Kids who eat dinner with their parents experience less stress and have a better relationship with them.”
There is No Replacement For Time
It’s not looks, likes, activities, or lavished gifts that increase our quality time together. I encourage you to use your time wisely and live in a way that when you come to the end of your life, you will not have regrets with the way you spent your time. Ann Landers has illustrated this well in her column with a reflective father, “Where Did the Years Go?”
“I remember talking to my friend a number of years about our children. Mine were five and seven then, just the ages when their daddy means everything to them. I wished that I could have spent more time with my kids but I was too busy working. After all, I wanted to give them all the things I never had when I was growing up... it’s amazing how fast kids grow. Before I knew it, they were nine and eleven. I missed seeing them in school plays. Everyone said they were terrific...those little kids are nineteen and twenty-one now and in college. I can't believe it. My job is less demanding and I finally have time for them. But they have their own interests and there is not time for me. To be perfectly honest, I’m a little hurt. It seems like yesterday that they were five and seven. I’d give anything to live those years over. You can bet your life I’d do it differently. But they are gone now, and so is my chance to be a real dad.”
Take the Time and Change the Cycle
I hope this information and the truth it presents is as awakening to you as it is to me. As I see it, you and I have been entrusted with two incredible gifts: time and the influence we have in the lives of others. Statistics are numbers and they do not define an individual. In my story I share about taking the time to work through the difficulty of growing up in a home without a father. Hope is defiant and we can change the cycle in our families and in our communities. Together we can increase our awareness, pour into our families one meal at a time and help to rewrite the story of fatherlessness!
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Josh Neuer is a Licensed Professional Counselor who speaks worldwide about how individuals, families, and businesses can rewrite their story and ignite tangible and lasting results. Josh is passionate about empowering change in communities. He is the founder of Joshua Neuer, LLC, a counseling and consulting business; a certified educator, husband, father, and is absolutely crazy about relationships. To learn more or see a list of services provided visit JoshNeuer.com.