“Anyone can have a child and call themselves a “Parent”. A real parent is someone who puts that child above their own selfish needs and wants.” -Anonymous
Too true. Anyone who has looked at statistics of un-involved fathers to the youth of every generation since 2000 in the U.S. would agree. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of every three — live in biological father-absent homes. Nine in ten American parents agree this is a “crisis.”
We, as an American culture, are very quick to assume laziness or bad judgement on the mother or partner’s side if the biological father is absent from the complexities and daily work required to raise a person of good character. While in some cases this may be true, a greater question to pose is what a man, non-biological mother or partner needs to thoroughly examine and understand what fatherhood/non-biological motherhood is; what children, both girls and boys, need from a father or paternal/mother figure to develop into healthy, well balanced, individuals.
As David Blankenhorn states in his book “Fatherless America“:
Fatherhood, much more than motherhood, is a cultural invention. It’s meaning for the individual man is shaped less by biology than by a cultural script or story – a societal code that guides, and at times pressures, him into certain ways of acting and of understanding himself as a man.
Like motherhood, fatherhood is made up of both a biological and social dimension. Yet in societies across the world, mothers are far more successful than fathers at fusing these two dimensions into a coherent parental identity. Is the nursing mother playing a biological or social role? Is she feeding or bonding? We can hardly separate the two, so seamlessly they are woven together.
But fatherhood is a different matter. A father makes his sole biological contribution at the moment of conception. Because social paternity is only indirectly linked to biological paternity, the connection between the two cannot be assumed.
With this great of a biological disconnection, fathers and partners alike face the challenge of fulfilling their responsibilities of balancing their children’s development. They “…must be attached yet remain detached.” states Michael Gurian, in his book, The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters. He goes on to say that, “We are a culture that has experimented with turning away from nature as its base of operation. We have neglected to focus attention on the natural part fathering plays…and we’ve done so with grave results.”
In order to bring about any sort of change in the world of athletics, we must focus on strengths and work relentlessly on our weaknesses. The same mentality is needed when it comes to helping solve this social dilemma. Enter the constantly working Culture-Made Super Hero.
Focusing on the Positive Impacts of Father Involvement where in a study examining father [non-biological paternal or maternal] involvement with 134 children of adolescent mothers over the first 10 years of life, researchers found that father-child contact was associated with better socio-emotional and academic functioning. The results indicated that children with more involved fathers [paternal/maternal figures] experienced fewer behavioral problems and scored higher on reading achievement. This study showed the significance of the role of fathers in the lives of at-risk children, even in case of nonresident fathers.
With these statistics and studies, it’s hard to argue that father/non-biological maternal involvement is a rarity in American culture.
So, this Father’s Day, we’d like to thank you dads, paternal figures and non-maternal moms that DO put in the effort to be a healthy part of their child/children’s life. We thank and appreciate the extra effort you put in to be there for your child/children. Thank you for realizing that your part in our youth’s development is essential to balanced, independent individuals. Thank you for your love, support and dedication to standing out and fighting for balance and prosperity in our youth’s future! You truly are a super hero and we can’t thank you enough!