by Dr. Yvonne Lewis
This wasn’t a part of my plan. The plan was for my son to go to Dallas to accompany my father back here to southern Illinois. Instead, I was standing at my Dad’s hospital bedside, looking at his frail body. Although he recognized me, he was going in and out of awareness of my presence.
While I stood there, I thought about the importance of having a father in the home. How I appreciate the fact that I’ve had a father to provide for me, counsel me, laugh with me, and pray for me. But what about those who don’t? Many of our children in the inner cities don’t have any idea of what a father does.
The statistics are disheartening, and the problem seems to be systemic. A staggering 40 percent of our nation’s children are living in homes without their fathers, and within the next seven to ten years that number will reach upwards of 50 percent. Additionally, in our inner cities, only one in five children live with their father.
The repercussions of the absent father in America are mind-boggling: Statistics reveal that 80 percent of rapists, 85 percent of youths sitting in prison, and 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
According to Cynthia R. Daniels in Lost Fathers: The Politics of Fatherlessness in America: “The decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague America: crime and juvenile delinquency; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse, and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty… .”
Our God cares about the fatherless! In Isaiah 1:16–17 He says, “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow…” (emphasis supplied).
What can we do to make a difference?
Mentoring is critical. I remember watching a program in which comedian Steve Harvey was talking about the camp he had for inner city boys. As I listened, tears came to my eyes as I heard him say that these young boys needed someone to teach them basic things like how to tie a necktie. Urban boys and girls need to know what a real man is like. Teenage boys that become fathers need to know what a father does. What is his role and responsibility in the home? Or, if not living with the baby, what is his job as a parent?
Spiritual guidance is key. Our young men and women need to have godly role models to emulate. If you are part of an intact family, consider offering to assist in the raising of some of the fatherless children in your church. Take them on outings with your children, pray with them, and encourage them to pursue God, the ultimate Father.
As I stood there looking at my ailing father I was ever so thankful that I’d had him in my life! I pray that our inner city children will find the spiritual guidance and love they so desperately need, and 3ABN’s Dare to Dream Network is here to help.