The Tragedy Of Fatherless Homes

The single greatest factor contributing to the exploding rate of deviant behavior in our country is that of children being raised in fatherless homes. Violent crime, substance abuse, unwed mothers, chronic depression, and an abundance of other social ills, including poverty, can be traced back to children having an absent or abusive father. Children who grow up apart from their biological fathers are disadvantaged across the board. They are twice as likely to drop out of school, 2.5 times as likely for girls to become teen mothers, and as adults they end up having much higher rates of divorce. The great majority of our incarcerated criminals grew up either in a fatherless home or in a home where the father was abusive.

God warns us about casual neglect of the fatherless in the Book of Isaiah 1:16-17: "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; DEFEND THE FATHERLESS, plead for the widow..."

Stephen Baskerville, a professor of political science at Howard University, has stated that, “Virtually every major personal and social pathology can be traced to fatherlessness more than to any other single factor.” He continues, “fatherlessness far surpasses both poverty and race as a predictor of social deviance.” The great misconception today is that poverty is the main incubator of the criminal class. This is a widely embraced distortion of the truth. The criminal element in America is predominately a direct consequence of the fatherless home, not poverty.

Crime And Poverty Link

Cold statistics inform us that 40 percent of our nation's children are living in homes without their own father. Within the next seven to ten years that number will reach upwards of 50 percent. In our inner cities only one in five children live with their father. The repercussions of a Fatherless America are staggering: Statistics reveal that 80% of rapists come from a fatherless home; 85% of youths sitting in prison come from fatherless homes; and 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from homes absent a father. What is most disturbing is that fatherless children are much more likely to be sexually molested, simply because there is no father in the home to protect them against child predators who are often relatives or so called family “friends”.

Children in fatherless families are six times as likely to be poor. They are also likely to stay poor longer. Study after study affirms the tragic truth that the number one factor contributing to poverty is women raising children without the presence of a father at home. The United States Censes Bureau reports that the most effective program for lifting Americans out of poverty is marriage! Divorce is the number one cause of women falling into the “poverty” category. Children of poverty grow up in neighborhoods that are unsafe and unsupervised: they fall prey to drug dealers and sexual deviates who take advantage of the poor and undefended. . Children desperately need to be protected from evil by loving parents whose cardinal responsibility is to shield the family from evil people.

The Children Of Divorce

In America nearly 22 million children live in a home without a father to guide and protect them. Why so many fatherless homes? Without question the biggest contributing factor to the fatherless home is divorce. Divorce usually means the father moves out of the house. What follows of course is that children of divorce see far less of their fathers than children who grow up in two parent families. With relentless frequency divorce is almost expected to occur since one in every two marriages are dissolved. Divorce was once stigmatized. Now it is accepted as commonplace. The millions of divorces in our nation numb us to the fact that divorce means devastation of the family. Children  the most vulnerable in our society – have the most to lose in a divorce.

Many confused spouses think that divorce will solve their marital unhappiness. But what the unhappy, divorce-determined spouse does not realize is that when he or she walks into a divorce attorney’s office they are placing that fragile family (especially the children) into the hands of a hostile court system. Divorce often leads to the children becoming de facto wards of the state. As spouses battle in court , family issues such as visitation rights are decided by strangers. Marital assets are divided according to the court’s decision. There is no better way to bring chaos and instability into a child’s life than divorce. In her book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, Judith Wallerstein writes:

"From the viewpoint of the children, and counter to what happens to their parents, divorce is a cumulative experience. Its impact over time rises to a crescendo in adulthood. At each developmental stage divorce is experienced anew in different ways. In adulthood it affects personality, the ability to trust, expectations about relationships, and ability to cope with change."

She continues, "But it’s in adulthood that children of divorce suffer the most. The impact of divorce hits them most cruelly as they go in search of love, sexual intimacy, and commitment. Their lack of inner images of a man and a woman in a stable relationship and their memories of their parents' failure to sustain the marriage badly hobbles their search, leading them to heartbreak and even despair."

Adultery’s Impact Upon Children

Some experts now say that nearly 70 percent of married men 45 years of age and younger will end up committing adultery at least once during their marriage. A father who abandons his wife and his children to pursue some silly “love affair” injures his sons and daughters. When a father does not remain loyal and protective of that child’s mother, that child learns that disloyalty and selfishness are acceptable behaviors. Children seldom overcome the sting of betrayal when a parent commits adultery. They often take this pain into adulthood. It is also a known fact that children who learn of a parent’s adultery will be much more likely to commit adultery themselves when they marry. We humans are very vulnerable to the examples we see when growing up. The modeling of parents can strengthen our character or destroy it.

The fatherless home places an enormous burden on the mother. Not only has she lost a mate, she has lost a protector, a provider, a spiritual leader and a friend. The single mother has to work long hours to provide for and protect her children  her plate is more than full. The single mom is the exhausted mom. In such circumstances there is little time for teaching her children the important values in life. She is just barely able to survive and provide for her children. She has little spare time to give her children the individual attention they crave. The single mom cannot do it all. The children pay a terrible price for Dad not being at home.

To Good Fathers Not At Home…

             We know that many fathers who are divorced and can no longer live with their children yearn to be good fathers. Unfortunately, in our troubled world good fathers are often thrust from their own homes through no fault of their own.  If you are such a father, don’t lose heart.  Continue to visit your children as often as possible and provide them with the love and moral guidance they deeply crave.  Strive to be very consistent in your visitations. Your children need your consistent influence, love and discipline.

For those who are fathers but have ignored their children or even abandoned them, go to God ask for forgiveness and then seek to make amends and become the father your children never had. God will help you and bless you if you are sincere in changing. There is always hope when God is involved. Do what you can to reverse this national stain of child neglect that is so easily tolerated by the adults in our nation.

God sees what adultery does to children and how it cripples a nation by depriving children of fathers. He reminds us that the fatherless child is particularly special to Him. God will not ignore the sins of child abuse or child abandonment. Exodus 22:22-23 states: “You shall not afflict any widow or the FATHERLESS child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword…” Punishment may not be executed immediately but God does not casually overlook such injury to the helpless. Those who abuse or abandon children will reap what they have sown, if not in this life then surely in the resurrection of the dead (John 5:28-29).

Father Hunger and Eating Disorders

A girl may have a physical father present in the home, but she is in fact fatherless if he abuses her or ignores her. In our present generation fatherless girls suffer disproportionately  in massive numbers  from an emotional illness that has devastated our young teens that is called ‘Father Hunger’. This emotional disconnect from a father figure results in a variety of eating disorders. Fathers play a prominent role in influencing their daughters’ acceptance or rejection of their own body image.

When a girl does not receive the affection, love, and attention she deserves from her father, she may cope with this inner insecurity by eating to fill herself up or by starving herself because she does not believe she deserves to be “full”. Daughters often misinterpret their father’s emotional distance or complete physical absence as a sign of something lacking in them. They subliminally reason: why does my dad not want to be with me? Or why does my dad never visit me? Or why does my dad always find fault with me? What is wrong with me?

The pain of the fatherless child may be expressed through a broad spectrum of behaviors. There is not always a simple explanation as to why teens and mature women use food as a means of control. Some girls eat constantly  such eating serves as a type of pain anesthetic  food is pleasurable so they eat often to escape feelings of worthlessness and isolation. Others may Binge or Purge in an effort to punish themselves, to express anger, or to attempt to “measure up” because of being abused, constantly criticized, or ignored by a father.

Sexual molestation is much more prevalent in fatherless homes because the fathers are not present to protect children from male predators. Young teen girls blame themselves for sexual molestation, believing they did something to deserve it. Some girls associate physical maturity with previously experienced sexual abuse. To avoid these feelings of shame they may starve themselves hoping to maintain a little girl physique. In their minds when they were little girls no one bothered them  they reason that adult female development only invites sexual abuse, so they reason if I am thin like a child I will not be abused. If it is the biological father who sexually preys upon his daughter, this is especially damaging.

The Explosion of Male & Female Gangs

It is not just girls who are damaged by not having a father present in the home. The explosion of our youth-gang culture is a testimony to the craving of boys for a strong masculine figure in their lives. Gangs are mainly made up of boys who hunger for a male role model. The pull to bond with an older male is so strong they will even gravitate to a man who is vicious. Fatherless children growing up in inner city neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to joining gangs. These kids are usually angry, confused and lonely. They long to belong. Gang life usually results in doing some prison time. Prison life is considered a rite of male passage. Prison only serves to harden these young men. Statistics tell us 70 percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in homes with no father present. The vicious cycle of fatherlessness repeats itself. Gang members are notorious for being abusive, absent fathers.

The increase in female gang membership is shocking. The common denominator that drives many young women to join gangs is that they have been victimized by step-fathers or live-in boyfriends of their mothers. The available research consistently confirms that a large proportion of female gang members have experienced sexual abuse at home from men who are not their biological fathers. And, of course, their biological fathers are not at home to protect them from predatory males.

One study found that almost two-thirds of female gang members interviewed in Hawaii had been sexually abused at home. Among the chief reasons these girls join gangs is to escape male abuse within their homes. Joining a female gang often involves enduring violent initiation rites, but at least they escape the sexual abuse that is often meted out casually at home.

God’s Judgment

There is so much more that can be said about the suffering and vulnerability of the fatherless. Books have been written on this great American tragedy but few read them. As a people we have chosen to ignore God’s laws concerning marriage and adult obligations like teaching children what is good character  modeling right character by the way we behave.

Our people do not want to experience the shame of our sins, so we conveniently ignore our promiscuous behavior  actions that lead to divorce and children without fathers. Instead, as a nation we deceive ourselves, issuing fictitious statements as to why we have so much crime and poverty in our wealthy nation. God is going to deal with our stubborn refusal to bear our responsibilities in the not too distant future. National punishment awaits us. Only after much suffering will our hearts be softened, only then will we seek forgiveness.

In the Bible we are told God punished ancient Israel for her abuse of the fatherless and the widow. God has not changed (Malachi 3:6). He will punish this “Christian” nation for abandoning and abusing its children. In the book of Isaiah God writes his warning to us today:

Isaiah 10:1-3 – "Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of My people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. What will you do in the day of punishment, and in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory?"

What can you do? Unless there is abuse or deviant behavior playing out in your marriage, strive to stay married. Your children need a father and mother both under the same roof. Rather than running from your problems, strive to learn how to make your marriage work. Respect God’s word regarding the sanctity of marriage; as parents and grandparents live up to your duty to develop wholesome character in your children and grandchildren.

Put the responsible father back in the home, and most of our societal ills will disappear. Becoming a mother or father is a great gift  AND RESPONSIBILITY  from God. Remember God’s admonition: “To whom much is given, much is expected”—Luke 12:48. God holds all of us responsible for our actions!