October 23, 2006

The Role of a Strong Father

Dads Really Count!

For over nine years I have been visiting prisons. With a few exceptions they have been prisons for men. An interesting thing has jumped out at me as I meet more and more prison inmates... almost all of them did NOT have a father present in the home while they were growing up!
As I have looked more deeply into this phenomenon, I have found that if there was a father present in the home of some inmates, his role was not that of a Strong Father Figure!

Having a Strong Father Really Counts

I definitely seems to me that the role of a strong father cannot be downplayed. Children need BOTH; a mother and a father! The part of that equation that is missing for most men in prisons is the father half of the equation. I always try to not speak outside of my experience and I rarely put much stock in statistics because they can be distorted in many ways but in this case my personal observation is supported by the statistics! Prison officials show me statistics that show that as many as 80% of the inmates do not have a father figure in their home!
Now, I doubt that many of you who are reading this column are going to raise children that will wind up in prison... but, that does not mean that the role of the father in the lives of your children will be any less important. Now, I do not have my head in the sand; I read about the number marriages that end in divorce. I know that the statistics say that about half of all marriages in America end in divorce. So be it, but that does not mean,in any way, that the importance of the father in raising those children of divorce decreases. The father must still be a strong father to those children; even though the father may not be present in the home on a daily basis.
I believe that both parents must be present and strong in the lives of their children. Stepparents are a reality of life but they cannot completely replace the father and the mother of the children. Please do not misinterpret anything that I am saying here. Many "blended families" really work well. In some cases it may not be possible for both the father and mother tp be present in a child’s life. Tragedy happens and a child may lose a parent to early death. At other times one of the parents may not live in a close enough proximity to a child to be in active daily contact with the child and there must be some concessions made. A child who has lost a parent ought to be enrolled in a Big Brothers or Big Sisters Program, or something similar, so that they have the experience of having two strong parent figures. If a divorce has separated the parents, they must both make every effort to make certain that two strong parents are present in the child’s life.

Kids Need Two Strong and Involved Parents

Now, I hate it when people only talk about the half of the marriages that end in divorce, so I am not going to do that here. Let’s talk about what this topic says to those of us who are NOT divorced. I believe that it says the same thing to all of us too! Kids need the influence of both parents! Both parents must be strong in their role of raising their children. A strong mother is important. A strong father is important. Kids need both as they are growing up.

Further Help

(For further advice about what both parents can do to fill a huge role in the lives of their children please visit our website: parentingwithdignity.com and order our DVD curriculum or one of my books.)

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