There is a crisis in America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America—one out of three—live without their biological dad in the home. Whatever the cause, whether it be divorce, work, military service or prison it is having a negative effect on our children. The Department of Justice most recent survey states that one in five prison inmates had a father in prison. These results are staggering! In 2014 in the State of Alabama there were 29,345 men who were incarcerated. Most of these men have children, children that are growing up today without their biological father in their home. Just like themselves, their children are left abandoned and the possibility of incarceration. Some of these children may never have met their father; in fact some may not even know he exists. Others go monthly to the prison during a visitation weekend just to spend a couple hours with him hoping to learn from him in some way. Sadly most of these fathers though they may regret not being there for their children, still don’t put any effort in these relationships. It is hopeless state that these families are in!
Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the societal issues facing America today. Research shows when a child grows up in a father-absent home, he or she is four times more likely to live in poverty and also more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems. The Journal of Youth and Adolescences study of juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency and that teens without fathers are twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant as an adolescent. All because of father absent homes! Children living with a single parent who has a live-in partner had more than 8 times the rate of maltreatment overall, over 10 times the rate of abuse and more than 6 times the rate of neglect. These youth are also more at risk of first substance use without a highly involved father and two times more likely to drop out of high school. Friends I could go on and on about how this is damaging families across America but if I did I wouldn’t have space in this blog post to share what we are doing about this crisis at the prison that I serve at.
At the prison that I serve at, we continue to assist these incarcerated men in developing skills to become more involved and supportive fathers. A father that fills the paternal role by providing emotional and physical support, affectionate care, counsel, and protection. We promote responsible fatherhood through our weekly Fatherhood Classes by empowering them to assume emotional, moral, spiritual, psychological and financial accountability for their children, both during and upon release from incarceration. We seek to impact the social, mental, and spiritual development of the fathers and the children by promoting character building, objective thinking, and emotional maturity. We want to see this cycle of hopelessness, stop. Friends we want to see fathers that are involved in their children’s lives. Fathers that maintain a certain level of regularity both in their personal characteristics and in their fathering habits. Fathers that are aware, know and understand their children and the world that surrounds them. Fathers that spend time nurturing their relationships with their children, comforting, encouraging, and affirming them. Ultimately fathers that will set aside the world and its temptations and make Christ and their families first!
Please remember our Fatherhood Ministry in your prayers!