I just watched the film “Courageous” with my son yesterday and while it was hard not to hold back the cynical humor that he and I share about “the cheese factor” that movies have, (and this one had so much cheese they should sell it at Pizza Hut) the film did have a central component that I thought was vital; namely what happens to children when they grow up in fatherless homes. It prompted me to do some statistical research that I found alarming and should give any father pause. Here’s some things I’ve found that only begin to scratch the surface :
- Incarceration Rates - Young men who grow up in homes without fathers double the odds of being incarcerated even when other factors such as race, income, parent education were held constant.
- Suicide - 63% of suicides are from fatherless homes.
- Behavioral Disorders - 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.
- High School Dropouts - 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
- Aggression - Some research has found greater levels of aggression in boys from mother only households than from boys in mother-father households
All men long to have a relationship with their fathers and while some guys have an incredibly strong bond with their dads, more often the story goes something like this :
- “We were never really close”
- “He worked so hard I rarely ever saw him”
- “My dad left when I was young”
In light of overwhelming evidence and with no disrespect to any “Maverick Moms” out there, here are three things I think every son needs from his father :
They need you to stay close
Every teenager withdraws. It’s a natural part of growing up. Like most fathers (myself included) we end up making the same critical mistake: we withdraw too. Find out what their interests are and take them fishing, to a football game-whatever. Just do something!! Don’t withdraw even though they withdraw.
They need someone to believe in them
Austin's always asking me the question, “Dad do you think I have what it takes?” to whatever pops in his head on any particular week. Some of those ideas are good and some just make me cringe. Last week he told me that he was able to share some of his learned experiences this past year with some friends based on the fact that his parents love him no matter what. Keep your criticisms constructive and believe the best.
They need an example
The word of the day folks is authentic. With phrases like “real talk”, “true that” or “for real”, kids nowadays have a much more refined built-in lie detector than we ever did. If your life is communicating something different than the life you’re asking your kids to live, then your counsel means little. How I treat my wife, how I treat others, how I handle (or don’t handle) my emotions, etc..will set the standard for them. Be consistent and give them someone worth looking up to.