Are Dads Expendable?

by Charles Colson

Sociologists and feminists have said that fathers are obsolete: scientists, after all, can start life in a petri dish. And single moms are doing just fine, thank you—no man needed. But can society do without fathers? Are dads really expendable? It's a good question as we celebrate Father's Day.

Fathers have always had a protective role in the family. The words "duty" and "sacrifice" come to mind. Dads have fought wars for us: the "war to end all wars"; a war to save the world from the iron will of Hitler; the Korean War, sometimes called the "forgotten war," but from 1950 to 53, almost 34,000 American men died there. And then there was Vietnam, where many served bravely, only to return home to derision; then it was the Persian Gulf; Somalia, Kosovo, [and now Afghanistan and Iraq].

Many fathers came home from war to embrace their children, only to be greeted as strangers. Others kissed tearful children goodbye and returned with large chunks of their lives missing. And some of those relationships were never healed. In all of these places, American men filled a father's role for the children of the world. Thank you, dads, for your sacrifices, your blood, and your very lives, given to keep unborn generations of children from harm.

And thank you, dads, for getting up every day and slogging away at sometimes boring and even dangerous jobs, to put food on the table. You built our schools and hospitals, cut our roads out of solid rock, transformed our wilderness, because there were little mouths at home to feed.

There is something comforting and secure for children who know that Daddy's around. Dad provides a solid foundation for their lives. Even Dad's snoring can be reassuring, because all's well in the house—Dad's home.

But Dad's not home in the 40 percent of American homes where children live without their biological fathers. And two and a half million kids will become fatherless this year.

Does it matter? Pediatricians are seeing huge increases in the number of emotional problems, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disabilities, and depression among America's kids. New research has linked such problems with the increases in single-parenting (meaning "no father") and the resulting poverty.

The absentee-father problem is fraying our social fabric. If you're one of them, pick up the phone today and call your kids. Write them a note, and tell them you love them and want to be part of their lives. Let your children know it wasn't their fault you left.

If you are still at home, great. Put down that remote, turn off that computer, and honor your children with your full attention. Listen to them, enjoy them, and take them on errands with you. Your son can learn manly things, and your daughter needs your interest and approval, as well, so she won't have to search for it in less worthy men.

And don't forget, as we celebrate Father's Day, your role as the spiritual leader of the family. Teach your kids about God and prayer and morals, and let them see your example. Be the kind of father you always wanted.

God could have had any role He wanted, but He chose to be our heavenly Father. Fatherhood was once an honored position, and we need to make it so again today.

Are dads expendable? No way.

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