The Problem-There is a father absence crisis in America.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children, more than 1 in 4, live without a father in the home. Consequently, there is a father factor in nearly all social ills facing America today. (2017. U.S. Census Bureau. Data represent children living without a biological, step, or adoptive father.)
The Cause-Most research focuses on two major causes for the growth in fatherlessness since the early 1960’s: divorce and out-of-wedlock births.
What is Missing-Dads...love their children “more dangerously.” That’s because they play “rougher” and are more likely to encourage risk-taking. They provide kids with a broader diversity of social experiences. They also introduce them to a wider variety of methods of dealing with life. They tend to stress rules, justice, fairness, and duty in discipline, which give children a sense of security.
"I was one of those men. When faced with a pregnant girlfriend, I pressured her to abort our child. When this wonderful young woman and our baby needed me to be a man, I was anything but a man. I sacrificed my own baby for the sake of my image, my convenience, and my destructive ego. With no one to turn to, either before or after the abortion, I wallowed alone in my sickness and shame. Ulcers threatened my life as the effects of guilt came to bear on me. I had made a move in haste, just to get it all out of the way, but it has never moved out of the way. I think of that decision almost every day."
Leo-The Braveheart "Leo loved Ashley. Most days, you could find them studying together or hanging out. They had been dating for a while and things were great. He loved how she made him feel and he tried to spend every moment with her. They both had their lives ahead of them and they believed they would be together forever. It all felt so right. Then Ashley showed him a positive pregnancy test. A baby was not part of their plans. What would their parents say? How could she stay in school? While she cried, Leo felt helpless. He had no idea what say, so he repeated the line he’d heard Planned Parenthood tell men to say: “I will support you, whatever you decide.” Assuming she would want an abortion, Leo found the number for a local Pregnancy Center on accident. He called to spoke with a coach on Ashley’s behalf.
As the coach listened to their story, he realized that Leo was conflicted about abortion. When he asked what HE wanted, the question freed him to speak for the first time about his feelings for their baby. He confessed that he didn’t want Ashley to have an abortion. He knew they were young, and it would be difficult, but he wanted to step up to support her and be a father to their baby. The more they spoke, the more Leo realized that he needed to tell Ashley how he felt. He needed to promise her that he would support her and their baby. He would not abandon them. Leo asked if his girlfriend could call and speak with a coach. Leo believed the information the coach gave him was important for Ashley to hear before making her decision. Thanks to community support, that coach could be there for Ashley and Leo. Because of you, a young man discovered the courage to be a dad."
Victor- The Refuge Fatherhood Coach Being a Father has been among the greatest blessings in my life. It has challenged and shaped me in ways no other role in life could. I have also been challenged in similar ways participating in the Fatherhood program at The Refuge Center. I have been amazed at how there is just a natural connection around being a father or an expecting father. I am presently a grandfather and most of the young men I meet are less than half my age. I have been concerned often and anxious over connecting with them. It has not been the slightest bit uncomfortable or awkward. I have found that their concerns over what to expect bring back memories of my own anxious concerns. Our conversations just seem to flow with ease around this awesome opportunity of being a father. I have been blessed by their openness and honesty as well as their instinctive insights. We have discussed everything from prebirth practices to prepare and help, holding the child, comforting them, relating to them, directing, and teaching them, to life pursuits that help us provide for them. We have discussed our own experiences being raised, and how that has shaped our perspectives. I believe that this program helps us all be better fathers and encourages us for the powerful role we have in the lives of our children. It is one the most rewarding things I have ever done.
The Solution- Most people assume that the plague of absent fathers is one that is too big for any one person to affect. Nothing could be further from the truth. At Refuge, we are eating this elephant one bite at a time. We approach it one family at a time. You can have a great impact for families…for fathers. Please consider a small commitment of your time, or financial resources. It is through actions of caring and loving people in our community that The Refuge Center will continue to encourage, educate and lift up the value of fathers for many years to come.
1. https://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics 2. http://fathers.com/statistics-and-research/contributors-to-fatherlessness 3. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/family-qa/the-significance-of-a-fathers-influence/ 4. “Fatherhood Aborted” Author Guy Condon and David Hazard 5. https://www.care-net.org/abundant-life-blog 6. Victor Hurst is the lead fatherhood coach at The Refuge Center.