Let's get the obvious out of the way -- Happy Father's Day to my Dad and the other fathers in our area. This one day is set aside to honor and recognize the importance of their roles in the family and in society.
But at the same time -- it seems that each year I write a very similar column on this special day. And unfortunately, the narrative remains largely the same.
In some segments of society, the father is woefully absent. You need look no farther than our own community to recognize the large number of single parent families.
Let me be clear. Some single-parent households function just fine. But in so many of those cases, the lack of a male role model brings an unfortunate outcome.
Statistics don't lie. Well at least in most cases.
But the numbers are clear on academic performance and instances of poor social behavior in those families where the father is absent. In short, there is no substitute for a strong father figure in a household.
This need does not diminish the role of the mother in the household. To their great credit, strong women provide the foundation for a family and there are countless cases where the fatherless family is strong and supportive and productive.
But the numbers are equally clear on the other side of the ledger. Absent fathers often pose major obstacles for struggling families. Society more often than not pays the ultimate price.
You can't wave a magic wand and mandate all households include two parents. And you can never mandate personal responsibility. But yes, you can dream of an improved society where two-parent households are increasing, not decreasing.
All fathers are not hands-on dads. But the presence of a male role model in a family structure assures a much greater success for the children and for society as a whole.
Count your lucky stars if you are the product of a family with a father and a mother.
Fathers don't always have to coach Little League or attend every PTA meeting to be a positive influence in their children's lives. They simply have to provide a living road map on how to respect others, to be responsible and to show some level of pride in their children and interest in their lives.
It seems simple on paper. But as we all know, it's not the norm in all cultures.
And in the end, it's the children who pay the price.