Another Side of Father’s Day

I am reposting my post from Father’s Day 2011.  Still meaningful today…and still who and what I think of every Father’s Day.


This week, as Father’s Day approaches, Louis works on his sermon, and I see/hear ads that encourage us to buy cards, ties, power tools, dinners, etc. for our Dads.  It’s quite inescapable and has me thinking….

Before proceeding, please know that I am NOT judging, and judgmental comments won’t be allowed. Let’s keep it respectful.

I am fully aware that Father’s Day isn’t always a joyful, loving, memorable, ‘Hallmark’ holiday for all fathers, mothers or children.  Often times…a father doesn’t have an opportunity to interact with their children on a frequent, regular basis.  This may be because the Dad may be away in the military or travel a lot for their job, may have died an untimely death, may be emotionally absent, or may be abusive.  It could also be a father who is currently incarcerated or chooses to be unengaged with their children….at any and all ages.  In addition, you have kids who were born to single moms – some with and without Dad involved…

64% of all births in Richmond occurring to women who are single at the time of birth. This is not just a teen pregnancy issue. 75% of these non-marital births are to women 20 years of age or older. Non-marital births are up from 10% in 1950, 20% in 1965, to 63% in 2007. See chart on page 3.

The Richmond Family & Fatherhood Initiative examines these costs and offers solutions in the document entitled “Cost & Solutions to Family Fragmentation & Father Absence in Richmond, VA”

There are many reasons why Father’s Day can be a tough day for many people.  Louis’s dad passed away when he and his sister were 12 and 14, respectively.  Some of my friends don’t have fond memories of their fathers due to neglect, addictions, and abuse.  Some of the kids I know and hang out with were born to single moms, and their dad’s aren’t active at all in their lives. Some Dads I know are wanting to reconcile with their families after being estranged for quite some time, yet the pain is so deep…they aren’t allowed back in….YET.

Churches across the nation celebrate and honor fathers on Father’s Day…and celebrate we should!  Fathers make a huge impact on their family when they are lovingly engaged with their wives and children.  In a recently published book, The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony DeBenedet states that fathers have a unique contribution to their kids, that nurturing mom’s can’t necessarily fill.  (You can hear more about the book on this video.)  Something as simple as rambunctious play makes a difference!  For many, many reasons children need their dads.  (Additional impacts can be found in the document link above.)

How can we, as the church, play a positive, supportive role in engaging fathers with their families, fill in the gap for fathers who aren’t able to spend time with their kids, encourage single moms and dads, etc?  This is a very complex situation in our city and nation.  There is not an easy answer.  If it were, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

So…this Father’s Day, let’s take time to honor and encourage biological and spiritual fathers.  Go buy the cake, the tie, the golf club, the dinner.  Have the special service and prayer at church.  But, let’s also remember and encourage the single moms and others who play the father role.  Let’s remember the fatherless and the orphans.  Let’s remember those who may find this day painful or just plain over-commercialized.  In addition, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the remembering the pain of the childless, wanna-be fathers.

My simple prayer, this Father’s Day weekend….

Abba Father, turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. (Malachi 4:6)

In the name of Jesus, your son and my brother, I pray.  Amen.

The 1% Solution

Revised…6/22 – Provided the report. Click the image below to be taken to the full report.

I was invited to attend the Second Annual Family and Fatherhood Forum at the Crown Plaza on Friday, June 18 at the Crown Plaza here in Richmond sponsored by First Things First, Richmond Healthy Start, Virginia Department of Social Services, Richmond City Health District, and the Virginia Department of Health. It was a well-attended follow-up to the meeting held at the same time last year….the Friday before Father’s Day!

Click for access to the full report.

We were welcomed by Byron Marshall, CAO for Mayor Jones. Brian Gullins, Family and Fatherhood Initiative Coordinator for the Richmond City Health District, reviewed the results of a Study called the Cost and Solutions to Family Fragmentation and Father Absence in Richmond, VA.  There was a panel discussing alternatives to incarceration consisting of Michael Herring, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney, CT Woody, Sheriff – Richmond City, and Philip White, Fatherhood Program, Henrico County.

The keynote speaker, Roland Warren, President National Fatherhood Initiative, spoke about the Pillars of Culture that impacts our view of Fatherhood….Business, Entertainment/Pop Culture and Government. We were charged with finding ways to connect kids with more than their father’s wallet. Once you get to the heart, the wallet is a short reach from there.

The moral, social, economic, and spiritual costs are outstanding FOR US ALL! If you sit in the suburbs, don’t think this doesn’t impact you! If you are white and saying it’s a “black” thing…think again! If you sit in Windsor Farms, the Fan or the county, this too impacts you! Although this report was about the City itself, its impacts are far reaching. I’d dare say that it was a problem in the counties as well, or Henrico wouldn’t have Fatherhood program of its own. Family Fragmentation and Father Absence is rampant throughout the Metro Richmond area.

This report was calculated based on the work and methodology of native Richmonder Benjamin Scafidi, PhD. From the Georgia Family Councel. It states…“The link between poverty and family fragmentation has been well researched and is widely accepted. Family fragmentation and father absence has caused an increase in taxpayer cost to antipoverty programs, justice system costs (courts, police, prisons, jails) present the most likely source for redirecting funds into preventative, alternative and reentry programs as those presented in the Solutions portion of this report.”

Looking at just one aspect of the study – Percent of Non-Marital Births around Richmond City, VA Residents, the percentage hovered around 10% from 1917 with slight increases in the 50’s. Then, HUGE increases over the years until we landed at nearly 65% in 2007.

• 64% to women who are single at time of birth
• 75% of those non-marital births are to women 20 years or older (leaving 25% as teenage pregnancies)

The report goes on to say…“Based on this methodology we estimate that family fragmentation in Richmond costs taxpayers at least $205 million each year or over a billion every 5 years.” However, with slight decreases come large increases! The report also states that with just 1% reduction in family fragmentation would save US taxpayers $1.1 billion each year, bringing nearly $2million savings in Richmond each and every year.

So…how can we not think that this doesn’t deserve our attention? that SOMETHING must be done? that these statistics aren’t startling? 1% isn’t that much! We CAN do this! But, how?

The report went on to summarize the 1% Solution with action items under each of the following solutions.

• Community Mobilization
• Social Marketing
• Resource Development
• Policy Development
• Workforce Development
• Alternatives to Incarceration and Re-Entry

I hope this gets you…


and pondering…

and praying….

how can I get involved?

And…as the church….what is our role?  how and where should WE get involved?