Those of us blessed with a father who participated in our upbringing should consider ourselves fortunate. If you were to boil down the problems of society today, I believe one of the leading causes of concern is the lack of paternal guidance in far too many homes. And it strikes home especially on Father's Day.
I don't pretend to be a social scientist but I do pay attention to common threads in society. Topping the list of causes for social concern is poverty.
The lack of a strong male role model in the home is a close second. And if you think about it, poverty is often tied to the absence of a male bread winner in the family so the issue of a fatherless home plays the pivotal role in the breakdown and decay we witness on the streets.
A majority of low-income and minority households here are headed by a single parent, much more often than not a female head of household. That puts an unbelievable burden and responsibility on a female to be both mother and father as well as bread winner. Too often, that task is simply unmanageable and we see the results in the newspaper daily.
Some trace the origin of fatherhood's erosion to the point where women began to enter the workforce in large numbers. Others trace the change to the period 40 years ago when personal responsibility and the traditional family structure became less important for some reason. I know not the origin - but I do know that the lack of a father in a household is a key indicator of potential problems for society. To actually put a price on the debt to society would be a herculean task.
Those who deal with juvenile issues will tell you the leading common component is the lack of a father in the house. Much more important than drugs or poverty, a home without a father greatly increases the chances that society will someday pay a hefty price. And the price is much more than added taxes or social services.
There is a difference between "my baby's daddy" and a father. And those of us who had the advantage of an active, participating father know exactly what that difference is. But we all know you cannot legislate personal responsibility. And thus, in some quarters, the cycle of a fatherless home will continue generation after generation. In fact, it already has.
I often dream of that ideal world where everyone recognizes right from wrong and behaves accordingly. But that is just a dream. The reality is much more cruel and frightening.
Children in a home without a father pay the ultimate price. But rest assured, the price for society as a whole is a substantial one as well.
There are groups in our community- funded by your tax dollars - whose goal is to promote fatherhood. We sincerely wish them well. But until cultural changes occur, no amount of conferences and speakers and motivational jingles will alter the reality.