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The Catholic Defender: The Importance of Fathers

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family* in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

The greatest testimony for any father is to reflect the glory of God the Father in his life. This profoundly affects positively to his wife and children. The attributes of God to be center in our lives. Consider St. Joseph, he is the worlds greatest dad who took care of the Holy Family. Not only was St. Joseph a hard worker, his faith was so strong that he was able to save his family taking long journeys as far as Egypt when chased by an evil king.

Focus on the Family posted the following important findings about the importance of fathers:

82% of studies on father involvement and child well-being published since 1980 found “significant associations between positive father involvement and offspring well-being…” Paul R. Amato and Fernando Rivera, “Paternal Involvement and Children’s Behavior Problems,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (1999): 375-384.

In an analysis of over 100 studies on parent-child relationships, it was found that having a loving and nurturing father was as important for a child’s happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother. Some studies even indicated father-love was a stronger contributor to some important positive child well-being outcomes. Ronald P. Rohner and A. Veneziano, “The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence,” Review of General Psychology 5.4 (2001): 382-405.

According to child psychiatrist Kyle Pruett, a father’s more active play style and comparatively slower response to a toddler or infant experiencing frustration serve to promote problem-solving competencies and independence in the child. Kyle D. Pruett, Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, (New York: The Free Press, 2000), p. 41-42.

In the words of Dr. Pruett, “positive father care is associated with more pro-social and positive moral behavior in boys and girls.” Pruett, 2000, p. 52. This is borne out by research from the University of Pennsylvania which indicates that children who feel a closeness and warmth with their father are twice as likely to enter college, 75 percent less likely to have a child in their teen years, 80 percent less likely to be incarcerated and half as likely to show various signs of depression. Frank Furstenberg and Kathleen Harris, “When and Why Fathers Matter: Impacts of Father Involvement on Children of Adolescent Mothers,” in Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies, R. Lerman and T. Ooms, eds. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993).

In a 26-year-long study, researchers found that the number one factor in developing empathy in children was father involvement. Fathers spending regular time alone with their children translated into children who became compassionate adults. Richard Koestner, et al., “The Family Origins of Empathic Concern: A Twenty-Six Year Longitudinal Study,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58 (1990): 709-717.

Dr. David Popenoe, Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University and Co-Director of the National Marriage Project, states, "Fathers are far more than just “second adults” in the home. Involved fathers – especially biological fathers – bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. They provide protection and economic support and male role models. They have a parenting style that is significantly different from that of a mother and that difference is important in healthy child development." David Popenoe, Life Without Father, (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 163.

When fathers are leading their families in the faith, their children have a better than 80 - 90% success rate that they will take the Paton holding onto the faith. When it falls on the mother the rate falls drastically down to the 30's and even the teens in percentage.

Lets take a look at the reverse, when fathers are not in the picture, what are some of the results.

The divorce rate has had a dramatic impact on the American Family. Let us pray for the return of God in our Country, that He will restore common sense and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). The following Statistics come from "Teens and Toddlers: children without fathers":

- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) –5 times the average.

- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.

- 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)

- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes --14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)

- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)

- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes10 times the average. (Rainbows for All God’s Children)

- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)

- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)

Hosea 4:6 states, "My people are ruined for lack of knowledge! Since you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest; Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children."

When fathers are out of the picture, it hurts the children in so many ways. When the fathers are not practicing their faith, if they have one, hurts children in so many ways. When fathers are addicted to drugs and alcohol, this hurts children in so many ways. When fathers abuse their wife and children, this hurts children in so many ways. If you place children in same sex homes, that also hurts children in so many ways.

If fathers are not trying to be whom God created them to be, they can have a negative image of God the Father leading their children down a dangerous road. Sons may have a poor example teaching them to not have respect for women. Daughters might never be interested in men because of what they witnessed in their fathers.

If Father taught their sons to be men, maybe they would grow up being good leaders. 1 Kings 2:1-4 states, "When the time of David’s death drew near, he gave these instructions to Solomon his son: “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong and be a man! Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, and wherever you turn, and that the LORD may fulfill the word he spoke concerning me: If your sons so conduct themselves that they walk before me in faithfulness with their whole heart and soul, there shall never be wanting someone of your line on the throne of Israel."

To be a man who can break the chain of destructive patterns in their families history to break the violence and abuse, they can change their future taking King David's advice. We must place God's statutes, His commands, His ordinances, His decrees, His Word in our hearts. That is why our Catholic Faith is so important. Even at this time in human history when we see so much rebellion. Men of courage must answer the call to lead our families to life everlasting making the Sacraments of God central in our family. Especially the Eucharist.


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