June 16, 2012 11:05 AM
Dads: Who needs them?
My column from the St. Francis de Sales bulletin for Father's Day 2010:
Dads - Who Needs Them?
One might well ask, what with Hollywood hotties making headlines adopting on their own. Or when 4 out of 10 US babies are born to single moms.
Or when schools, in an effort to make everyone "comfortable," level the playing field by downplaying the ideal of growing up with mom and dad.
As faithful Catholics we need to take great care of the fatherless among us. But we also need to defend fatherhood.
The National Center for Health Statistics has found that children living with divorced mothers are four times more likely to need professional treatment for emotional or behavioral problems, twice as likely to repeat a grade at school, and more likely to suffer chronic asthma, frequent headaches, bedwetting, stammering or speech defects, anxiety, depression or hyperactivity.
Children growing up without dads, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, are more likely to be delinquent and twice as likely to end up in prison.
How ironic then, that in our zeal for lifestyle validation, we have, in the words of author Cathy Young, "Proclaim[ed] the fatherless household to be just another wonderful addition to the mosaic of diversity."
Growing up with divorced parents I felt ashamed and embarrassed, but I'm glad no social engineers thought to "rescue" me by pretending it was normal. Glad that I would eventually discover what was missing was something that didn't have to go missing for my own kids. Glad for classmates who brought me home after school, where I wouldn't be lonely while my mother was at work, and where I could see and hear and feel that magic moment when their own daddys came home.
The world doesn't do fatherless kids any favors by trying to convince them there's nothing missing from their lives. It just sets up another generation of dysfunctional relationships. How much better it would be if kids were taught that no matter what their growing up years were like, they can still aim for God's best.
As Catholics, we are blessed with the knowledge of God's intentions for marriage - a plan which puts the world's notions of diversity to shame.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Even more insidious is the fact that this devaluation of fathers as optional, expendable, even more trouble than their worth - has carried over into the more vigilant atheism. So from the "Dads, who needs them?" has evolved the inevitable "God, who needs him?"
Blessed are those who know we need them both. And blessed are those who defend fatherhood - on earth as a reflection of heaven.
If like me, you do not have a dad, thank the person who has stood in his place - an uncle, a priest, a grandfather.
But if you are blessed with a dad, hold him a little longer and tighter today. Look in his eyes long enough that you both feel embarrassed. Do something extravagant and surprising for him: write him a poem or a song. Acknowledge his sacrifice and love.
And let us all thank God for faithful fathers everywhere!