There’s an epidemic in the United States that’s politically incorrect to talk about. On Father’s Day, I’m compelled to avoid writing another blog post about good dads. Don’t get me wrong – good dads are foundational to the family, society, faith and community. But one in three homes in the United States don’t have dads. Did you know that?
I have a tender spot in my heart for kids without dads. I work with these kids in public schools. A common phrase I hear from kids is “I don’t have a dad.” In reality, the child has a dad, but the child may have never met them, the father may be in jail, or just absent from the child’s life.
There’s something that happens inside a fatherless child on Father’s Day – the hole inside their heart that longs for their father grows bigger. The questions of why their dad doesn’t care enough to be in their life gets louder. The shame of not having a dad in their life grows deeper.
Though a child may not have a dad in their life, male-figures are still important for their sense of belonging, emotional health and development. In churches and communities across the country, good dads abound – and fatherless children do, too. Kids need positive male role models in their lives when fathers are absent, especially boys. It might be risky to say this in a world where child predators and abusers are rampant in the news, but I have to call good men in our churches and communities to be mentors or positive figures in the lives of a fatherless children. Here are five ways you can be a dad to the fatherless (even if you’re a woman).
- Affirm the child’s gifts and strengths. If you have a child without a father in your sphere of influence, make a conscious effort to give positive affirmations to the child. He or she needs to know they have strengths and they need to hear affirmations from other adults.
- Reach out to a child. If there’s a fatherless child in your life, reach out to them. Ask about their interests, go to their ballgames, take them out to a special event with your family or for ice cream. Any time you have to pour into a child is worthwhile.
- Don’t put their father down. Whether their father is in jail, with another woman, a drug addict or simply never been known by the child, don’t talk negatively about him. The child still loves that father and has to come to their judgments about him on their own. Give them the space to reconcile their thoughts and feelings on their own.
- Tell the child it’s not their fault. A child feels that somehow they’ve done something wrong to drive their father (or mother) away or that there’s something wrong with them that caused their father not to want them. Let the child know this isn’t true.
- Volunteer with organizations in your community that cater to fatherless children, like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a local school, or mentoring ministries. There are waiting lists for children who need these supports. Give your time and bless children in your community.
How have father-figures blessed your life or impacted you as a child or adult? Would you share your story with us in the comment section?
It’d love to share Ingrid Lochamire’s memoir about her father with one of you! I’m giving her new book, “A Man’s Work” to one of my readers. Leave a comment on the blog and I’ll enter your name in the giveaway!