Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when fathers are active in the lives of their offspring. Children and teens need the influence of their father in their lives in order to develop properly. Boys, in particular, need their fathers to teach them how to become men and how to treat women.
There are many statistics that show the importance of fathers in the home. Matt Walsh shares some of them in his article, “3 Things A Father Must Teach His Son So That His Son Doesn’t End Up Dead Or In Prison.” There is much power in the above title and much wisdom in his article. However, I want to share the statistics that he quotes at the beginning of the article.
Over 60% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. Over 80% of youths in prison are from fatherless homes. Over 70% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes. Over 70% of kids in drug abuse treatment centers are from fatherless homes. The fatherless home epidemic is a verified national emergency, and should be treated as such.
But the fatherless factor is just one part of the equation. The other part is that nearly all of the kids who fall into these statistics are boys. Pretty much every mass shooter in American history, with very rare exception, has been male. 93% of the inmates in federal prison are men. 90% of murders are committed by men. The vast majority of rapists and child molesters are male. Men are three times more likely to kill themselves.
The statistics quoted above are quite daunting. In fact, they are terrifying. If I were a single mom, I would be scared out of my wits for the futures of my sons. These statistics show that each boy needs a real man in his life. Walsh has a solution to the problem in the nation. “The solution brings us back to the beginning: fathers. Boys need to be taught how to be boys, and they need fathers to do the teaching.”
Every boy needs a father who is a part of his life. He needs more than a roof over his head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. He needs a father who will teach him what a man does. Fathers bring toughness to their children, just as mothers bring softness to them. Children need both mother and father – or a valuable substitute. In an emergency, this could be a loving step-parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even someone from the Church or school – but a biological parent is the best for the child.
Walsh does not throw girls to the side and says that they need guidance also. He explains that girls have lots of role models. Most homes today have a mother in them. If not, there are lots of women ready to “mother” another woman’s daughter. Society tends to build girls up while at the same time undermining boys. Walsh reminds us of a “simple truth: women want to make a home, and men want to go into the woods and hunt. The only question is what exactly they will hunt, and how.” Boys need dads to show them what to hunt and how to do it. Walsh explains how fathers can help their sons.
1) We need to teach them to take healthy risks. Boys will take risks…. This is why the generally cautious voice of the mother needs to be balanced by a father who knows that a scraped knee and a busted lip can do a young man a lot of good. A boy needs his dad to say: “Go climb that tree.” “Go hit that ball.” “It’s just a scratch.” “It’s okay to punch back.” …
These are the risks of early boyhood. But as a boy grows, he needs his dad there to teach him how to take different kinds of risks, fraught with a different kind of peril….
2) We need to teach them to protect the weak. Boys are fascinated by violence. There’s no use fighting it. The idea of a man using his physical strength to defeat and conquer another man is innately appealing to most every boy….
A father must be there to say, “It’s good to be strong. It’s good to fight for the right reason. But if you want to be a cool, strong man like me, you should only use your strength to protect people who are weaker than you – never to hurt them.” …
3) We need to teach them to worship God. There are two things that every boy needs to see his father do: show affection to his wife, and pray. There are few images more powerful, more formational, for a young boy that the image of his father kneeling with his hands clasped. From the boy’s perspective, his father spends all day telling people what to do, running the show, doling out discipline, and leading with firmness and purpose. But now here he is, on his knees, humbling himself, submitting himself, reaching out to some greater force; a force he even calls “Father.” …
I am grateful for sons who are active in the lives of their children. They teach their sons how to take healthy risks, while I am standing back saying, “Be careful.” They teach their sons the appropriate way to treat their mothers, sisters, and other girls and women. They teach their children about God by studying the scriptures and kneeling in prayer with them.
I appreciate the way that my sons collect all of the grandsons and wrestle with them on the floor or play a rough game in the yard. My grandsons have five surrogate fathers as well as their biological father. These surrogate fathers teach, correct, and love all the boys as their own, and the entire family is stronger because there are fathers engaging in the lives of boys and girls. Fathers can strengthen families, communities, and nations by coming home and rearing their children as only fathers can.