As Father’s Day approaches, I remember an article published in Psychology Today entitled, “The decline of fatherhood and the male identity crisis” by Ray Williams. In it he states, “America is rapidly becoming a fatherless society, or perhaps more accurately, an absentee father society. The importance and influence of fathers in families has been in significant decline since the Industrial Revolution and is now reaching critical proportions.”
He quotes the research of David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America, and chair of the National Fatherhood Initiative, along with research conducted by Popenoe and other researchers, who state that fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance and teen pregnancy. Also, lack of a father often makes it more likely the family will live below the poverty line.
My dad died when I was fifteen and my sister was thirteen. It was a very tough time for my mom and us. I remember one day someone called me “fatherless”. I grew cold inside and wanted to cry. This shattered the feelings I had that somehow my dad was still with me, even though I could not see him. This made me feel so alone and rather unloved.
There are many avenues to look for help in life – advisors, books, friends, and social media. Christian Science teaches that when you need help, you can always turn to the Bible for advice. I did that. Jesus talked a lot about God as Father. Since he was literally the Son of God, that makes sense. But when he taught us how to pray, he said, “Our Father….” To me that meant God is the Father of all of us.
This made an impact on me. I loved my dad. He was a great dad, and taught me much during the fifteen years he was with me. Now I understood that I had a Father that would always be with me. That Father was God. He would love me unconditionally, guide my life and protect me. This was proved time and time again. I felt I could confide in God when I made mistakes, and feel his joy when I succeeded.
This is true for every child, teen and adult. There is a heavenly Father that loves you and gives you every idea you need to live a productive life. His peace silences anger, distrust, fear and anxiety. It strengthens each of us, giving us the mental poise we need. Our mental health is not dependent on the presence or absence of a human father. While it is great to have that human contact with someone who loves us, if that is not possible, the divine Father is here for all of us.
None of us needs to be a statistic of the effects of being “fatherless”. God provides everything we need. There is a poem that I have memorized and remembered during very trying times. I thought I would share it with any readers who may be struggling with feeling “fatherless”:
“I look to Thee in every need, and never look in vain;
I feel Thy touch, eternal Love, and all is well again:
The thought of Thee is mightier far than sin and pain and sorrow are.
“Thy calmness bends serene above, My restlessness to still;
Around me flows Thy quickening life to nerve my faltering will:
Thy presence fills my solitude; Thy providence turns all to good.
“Embosomed deep in Thy dear love, held in Thy law I stand:
Thy hand in all things I behold, and all things in Thy hand.
Thou leadest me by unsought ways, Thou turn’st my mourning into praise.”