A Welcome Message

It's a great big world we live in. And yet-it's a small world (after all). There are so many different cultures and opinions and theories and beliefs, but there is one thing that exists among them all, and that is FAMILY.

I firmly believe that "the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

On this blog, I'll share information from my classes, experiences from my own life, thoughts and feelings from my heart-all on the subject of FAMILY.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fatherhood Forever

I had to write a paper for class this week and I'd like to use it as my post. I used the article, Life Without Father by David Popenoe and I found it fascinating. It's not too long of a read, though it was adapted from his book, Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society. You can get the book on Amazon for about 3 cents (like 4 or 5 bucks after shipping)!

Satan’s attack on the family has society rather confused on the subject. Everything about the traditional family is being questioned, including the importance of a father’s influence.

Lessons from Life Without Father, by David Popenoe  - A paper adapted from his book of the same title.
In his paper, Professor David Popenoe explains the absence of fathers in the home and the impact their absence has on society. The first point Popenoe discussed was the difference between the reasons for and attitudes towards fatherlessness in modern times compared to earlier years. He said, “There was a time in the past when fatherlessness was far more common than it is today, but death was to blame, not divorce and out-of-wedlock births… Almost all of today’s fatherless children have fathers who are alive, well, and perfectly capable of shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood.” Fathers are simply choosing not to fulfill their roles, rather than being unable to do so because of death or sickness. “The children of divorce and never-married mothers are less successful in life by almost every measure than the children of widowed mothers. The replacement of death by divorce as the prime cause of fatherlessness, then, is a monumental setback in the history of childhood.”
The absence of fathers in the home has powerfully negative affects on children, women, and yes-even the men themselves. In speaking of children, Popenoe said, “In my many years as a sociologist, I have found few other bodies of evidence that lean so much in one direction as this one: On the whole, two parents—a father and a mother—are better for a child than one parent.” Popenoe also explains that even though there are always exceptions, “such exceptions do not invalidate the rule any more than the fact that some three-pack-a-day smokers live to a ripe old age casts doubt on the dangers of cigarettes.” A father’s role is more than merely acting as a second adult in the home, though that is certainly one benefit. Fathers and mothers naturally have different strengths and when there is one of each in the home, they “offset each other's deficiencies and build on each other's strengths.” A father’s “unique qualities” are typically different from those of a mother, making their contributions-along with hers-vital to the success of complete family wellbeing. “What fathers do—their special parenting style—is not only highly complementary to what mothers do but is by all indications important in its own right for optimum childbearing.”
Women have endured many hardships due to the trending absence of fathers in the home. Aside from the obvious financial and emotional stresses of raising children alone, many women also face physical danger as a result of fatherlessness.
More than two-thirds of violence (assault, robbery and rape) against women is committed by unrelated acquaintances or strangers. As the number of unattached males in the population goes up, so does the incidence of violence toward women.
Or consider the fact that, of the violence toward women that is committed by intimates and other relatives, only 29 percent involves a current spouse, whereas 42 percent involves a close friend or partner and another 12 percent an ex-spouse.' As current spouses are replaced by nonspouses and exes, violence toward women increases.
In fact, marriage appears to be a strong safety factor for women. A satisfactory marriage between sexually faithful partners, especially when they are raising their own children, engenders fewer risks for violence than probably any other circumstance in which a woman could find herself. Recent surveys of violent-crime victimization have found that only 12.6 of every 1,000 married women fall victim to violence, compared with 43.9 of every 1,000 never-married women and 66.5 of every 1,000 divorced or separated women.
It may be surprising to some that it is not just women and children who suffer from fatherlessness. Popenoe says, “The world over, young and unattached young males have always been a cause for social concern. They can be a danger to themselves and to society. Young unattached men tend to be more aggressive, violent, promiscuous, and prone to substance abuse; they are also more likely to die prematurely through disease, accidents, or self-neglect. They make up the majority of deviants, delinquents, criminals, killers, drug users, vice lords, and miscreants of every kind.” He continues, “Family life--marriage and childrearing--is an extremely important civilizing force for men. It encourages them to develop those habits of character--including prudence, cooperativeness, honesty, trust and self-sacrifice--that can lead to achievement as an economic provider. Marriage also focuses male sexual energy. Having children typically impresses on men the importance of setting a good example.”
It’s no wonder then, that modern research continues to find more and more evidence that many of the social problems we face in the United States today leads back to the absence of fathers in the home. Why? “The latest and most authoritative review of the research concluded that children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle--out of school and out of work--as children who grow up with both parents.” Popenoe provides numerous examples and data in his paper to support the idea that fatherlessness is a major cause of social problems in the U.S. He says, “Having a father at home is no guarantee that a youngster won’t commit a crime, but it appears to be an excellent form of protection. Sixty percent of America’s rapists, 72 percent of its adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of its long-term prison inmates come from fatherless homes.”
So, what can be done? Popenoe gives a range of suggestions for employers, religious leaders, family scholars and educators, counselors, legislators, and entertainers. He suggests a two-tier system for divorce that separates cases without minor children and marriages with children-the latter having stricter guidelines. Lastly, he states, “If we are to make progress toward a more just and humane society, we must reverse the tide that is pulling fathers apart from their families. Nothing is more important for our children or for our future as a nation.”
My Own Experience
                  I remember times growing up where interactions with my father brought me great comfort or taught me important lessons. When I was rather young, my family had to move from the house we were renting. I was told the owner was going to tear it down to build a new house. In my young mind, I pictured a wrecking ball knocking down the walls on top of us and feared we wouldn’t be moved out in time. I remember asking my dad if they would do that to us and he stopped what he was doing, squatted down to my level and pulled me into his arms before explaining that we were safe and no such thing would happen.
It’s impressive to me that even though my father had to work a lot to support our large family, his influence on me was just as great as my mother’s, and sometimes greater, even though I spent much less time with him. Once I was late for curfew and I returned home to a note on my bed explaining his disappointment in not having me there for family prayer and not knowing I was safe at home before he had to retire for bed-he worked very early in the morning and couldn’t wait up for me. His simple concern and obvious love for me had a huge impact on me and turned my selfish teenage attitude outward to think of more than just myself.
My father’s good character always stuck out to me. He was a man I admired from a young age. My mother was a wonderful. Her influence is irreplaceable and I cherish and appreciate the things she taught me pertaining to the gospel and every day life lessons, but somehow, there was something about my dad that made his opinions, input, advice and time with me weigh so very much and I believe it’s the divine gift that fathers have to be a role model for their children. Again, when I was young, my father and I had run an errand and when we returned to the car to go home, we found that it wouldn’t start. My dad tried a few different things but nothing worked, including prayer. We walked to a nearby food place to use the phone and then walked back to the car to wait for someone to come. As we were walking back, I had the thought that we should try starting the car again. After all my dad’s efforts, I was expecting him to disregard my suggestion. I was a child, after all. But my dad didn’t even hesitate before saying, “if you feel that we should, we will.” Even though the car still did not magically start from that attempt, I learned from that small experience that my dad valued and trusted me, and I could trust him with anything.
Fatherhood in My Future
Not only was I blessed to have a wonderful father growing up, I have married an incredible man whose own father is another great example and influence. So far, my husband and I have four young children and we have witnessed the power of his influence in their lives. There have been times when he’s been home less due to work schedules and I’ve seen the void that my children feel when he’s gone. One of the first things they ask him each day is, “Do you come home dark or bright?” With his ever-changing work schedule, they have grown accustomed to him being gone either in the mornings or evenings. To them, his coming home “bright” is more desirable as it seems that they get to spend more time with him then. On the nights when he’s at work, the last thing they always ask when I tuck them into bed is, “Will you tell dad to give us a kiss when he gets home?” They know they’ll be asleep, but just the comfort of knowing he’ll check in on them is real.
We have tried to follow the examples we had growing up of having regular family home evenings, family scripture study and prayer, and lots of family time together either in the garden, running errands, camping, fishing, working, serving, and playing. There is nothing so wonderful as when I find my children wrestling their dad or playing silly games with him. President Harold B. Lee said, “The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, Chapter 14). My husband and I are not perfect parents, but we are continually learning and trying to be better, more like our Father in Heaven who is the ultimate example of perfect parenting. I know that the righteous and worthy influence of my husband is vital to the wellbeing of my children. I know that the same can be said for every father. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released… and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity” (To the Fathers in Israel, October 1987).

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