Jim Higley has some thoughts about the epidemic of absent fathers and what can be done about it.
Like Oprah, I have a list of favorite things.
One of my favorite things I received this week was a Post-It note on a package. You see, there was a pre-printed message on the Post-It note that made me smile:
“Good dads are like post-its…they stick around!”
Unfortunately, it was a message that also lead me to some pretty staggering facts.
The package was from a new friend, David Hirsch, founder of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. The IFI is the first statewide non-profit group in our country whose mission is to promote responsible fathering and help equip men with tools to become better fathers or father figures.
Sounds good, right?
It also is necessary. Actually, it’s also a crisis.
Did you know that one in three kids in our country lives apart from their biological father? That’s something like 24 million kids! More staggering is the fact that the dads we’re talking about have little contact with their own children:
- One-third of those dads say they have less than one contact per month with their children.
- Over 25% of those dads haven’t had contact with their children in over a year.
The price? Well, it’s paid by our children. Research shows that kids who have no father or father-figure in their life have higher rates of suicide, running away, drug and alcohol problems, and a spectrum of behavioral problems.
So that Post-It note message took on a very humbling meaning to me once I jumped in and started to learn.
That’s why I’m grateful for groups like the IFI. Raising awareness is certainly the first step to tackling this issue.
One of the coolest things they do to promote the importance of fathering is sponsor a statewide “Father-of-the-Year” Essay Contest. It’s open to any kid in the state from the little ones in kindergarten to the graduating seniors. It gives these young folks a chance to tell the world about the important men in their life. All participants get a complimentary pair of tickets to see the Chicago White Sox and—thanks to hundreds of amazing volunteers—a handful of these kids and the men in their life get honored at a pretty impressive banquet.
It’s a step in the right direction to remind us all of the importance of dads and dad-figures. You can learn more at their website if your school is not participating.
And don’t forget—even us dads who have the privilege and joy of a house full of kids might benefit from asking ourselves how involved we really are in our own kids’ lives. Being “absent” can come in many forms.
Yep, good dads really are like Post-Its. And our reward for that comes in the form of healthy, happy kids.
Ones who, if we’re lucky, just might want to stick around with us in return.
photo by 3oheme / flickr