Fathers and Freedom Are Irrevocably Linked
The Fatherless Factor
“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families. … In vain are schools, academies, and universities instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years.” –John Adams (1778)
Annually, on the third Sunday in June, millions of Americans of all ages are reminded that they grew up in homes without fathers. Many also recognize that this absence has had a significant influence on every day of their lives.
For much of history, it was not uncommon for children to have one parent — having lost the other to disease, war or occupations that took them far away from the home. Unfortunately, the United States today ranks high among nations with children growing up in single-parent homes. In the vast majority of these cases, the single parent is the mother, and the absent parent is the biological father who elected to abandon them.
This elective rejection by fathers, the result of birth to absentee “baby daddies” or divorce, is epidemic. And the consequence of this epidemic for families, and the future of Liberty, is dire.
The vital role of fathers has been extolled throughout history and in virtually every religion and culture. In 295 B.C., Mencius wrote, “The root of the kingdom is in the state. The root of the state is in the family. The root of the family is in the person of its head.”
When I think of the word “father,” it first invokes my relationship with the person who irrevocably shaped my own life. Dad was always there for my siblings and me, and he was always a devoted husband to my mom. He was a real man, in every sense of the word, a type “A” fighter pilot — and of the most aggressive breed, a naval aviator. He was a competitive entrepreneur in business and a fierce competitor in sports.
Since he passed along that same “A” gene, we butted heads for most of my formative years. When recalling my early trials with my father, I’m reminded of a great quote attributed to that sagacious humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain): “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Like Twain, it took me a few years to figure out that my old man was a good father and a good mentor to boot. Today, I’m so grateful for the steadfast example he set and the love we share for each other.
“Father” also evokes thoughts about my relationship with our children, and that is precious beyond words — a greater gift I could not imagine. But having failed my own children in some ways, I hope in due time by grace that they will grant their old man forgiveness for those errors.
“Father” also invokes gratitude for all that is provided by our heavenly Father, as it does the heritage bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers.
These four contexts for “father” — God the Father, my own earthly father, my role as father to my children, and the legacy of our forefathers — combine to create a rich and abiding sense of what fatherhood really means, how it should look and feel in heart and practice.
But for tens of millions of American children growing up in fatherless homes, the consequences of that void are enormous. How enormous?
Considering the wide range of data associated with the fatherless factor, Twain also offered this erudite insight: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
So when evaluating data from the last two decades associated with the consequences of fatherless homes, I have been careful to rely on only the most reputable professional journals, national research organizations and polling firms.
Here is accurate data on the consequences for American children without fathers in their homes: About 43% of children live without a father — more than 20 million children — and millions more have fathers who may be physically present but emotionally absent. Forty-four percent of children living in poverty are fatherless. Eighty-five percent have behavior problems, often “diagnosed” as ADHD (or, as I refer to it, PDHD — “Parental Deficit in the Home Disorder”). Children from fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of all homeless and runaways, 70% of youths in state-operated institutions, 71% of high school dropouts, 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers and 85% of all youths in prison. Of course, women without husbands and children without fathers are at much greater risk of being victimized.
Most notably, however, 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father, which is to say they are perpetuating the misery – and tragically, 72% of black children are born out of wedlock.
Did I mention that the overwhelming majority of violent criminal offenders and most of the sociopaths involved in mass murders across the nation in the last ten years, did not have fathers in their homes?
The vast majority of social problems confronting our nation today originate in homes without fathers, which would include those without functioning or effective fathers.
While most fatherless homes are the result of men putting their own interests ahead of their marriage and family, an increasing number of fatherless homes are the result of mothers who separate from fathers because they are unable to establish a healthy marriage bond. In many such cases, the broken trust between a daughter and her father is directly related to the inability of that daughter to, later in life, form a trusting bond necessary for a healthy marriage with her husband.
Notably, there are plenty of young people who were raised by a single parent, or in critically dysfunctional homes, but who overcame those obstacles. In most cases they were either blessed with a parent who, against almost insurmountable odds, instilled in their children the values and virtues of good citizenship or, somewhere along the way, those children were lifted out of their misery by the grace of God — often in the form of a significant male mentor who modeled individual responsibility and character. As lawyer and social observer Larry Elder writes, growing up black without a father is not a death sentence.
As a result, they have been empowered to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices and behavior.
However, the vast majority of those from homes without fathers externalize responsibility for problems and solutions, holding others to blame for their ills, and bestowing upon the state the duty of providing basic needs and, ultimately, of arbitrating proper conduct.
The failure of fatherhood is more than just a social problem; it is a menacing national security threat. The collective social pathology of the fatherless has dire consequences for the future of Liberty, free enterprise and the survival of our Republic.
One may rightly conclude that most “liberalism” is rooted in pathology that runs much deeper than topical ideological indoctrination. Indeed, psychopathology dictates and frames worldview, and worldview is manifested in such expressions as political affiliation.
This pathology manifests in mental rigidity, fear, anger, aggression and insecurity. These characteristics are the result of low self-esteem and arrested emotional development associated, predominantly, with fatherless households or critically dysfunctional families in which children were not adequately affirmed. Such individuals harbor contempt for those who are self-sufficient. They believe that conforming to a code of non-conformity is a sign of individualism, when it is nothing more than an extreme form of conformism for those who are truly insecure. Though they feign concern for the less fortunate and the primacy of individual liberty, they are ardent statists.
They fear loss because most have suffered significant loss. They often come from socially or economically deprived single-parent homes, though inheritance-welfare trust dependents (see Gore, Kerry, the Kennedys, et al.) manifest similar insecurities, though they are dependent on inheritance rather than the state. They reject individual and social responsibility because such principles were not modeled for them as children — and the generational implications for Liberty are ominous.
Some of the fatherless (or those with ineffectual fathers) seek to compensate for the resulting insecurities through overachievement and are case studies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Mark Twain even had an applicable insight on the subject of political narcissists: “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
Nowhere is that pathology more evident than when fatherless children, in their relentless pursuit of approval never provided by their own fathers, ascend to positions of power. The pages of 20th century history are rife with the tragic results of those who were raised with ineffectual or no fathers. The short list includes Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Castro, Pol Pot, Saddam and bin Laden.
Among those who have ascended from broken homes to positions of political influence in our own nation, there is a distinctive pathology associated with their insatiable quest for approval and power and their resulting advocacy for a platform of statism upon which to build their throne.
The most notable recent examples are Bill Clinton, Al Gore and, of course, Barack Obama, who is a textbook case study of the threat posed to Liberty by such individuals in positions of power. The political, social, cultural and economic damage that these men have done in their warped search for power is considerable.
It’s no coincidence that Obama’s most loyal constituencies are the product of the social, cultural and economic blight he leverages on urban poverty plantations.
In his first campaign for president, Obama proclaimed, “What Washington needs is adult supervision.” Unfortunately, young Barack never received any such supervision after having been abandoned by his own father. He is, consequently, in no position to provide it to anyone else, much less an entire nation. To be sure, all good-hearted Americans should possess a measure of compassion for Obama, whose bizarre formative years were marked by complete familial disintegration — none of which he is responsible for or deserved.
I would suggest that the most revealing and honest remark Obama has uttered since his election was this: “[Fathers Day] reminds me of the countless children whose fathers aren’t showing up for the most important job they’ll ever have. As a man who grew up without a father, this is personal for me.”
In his 1834 “Commentaries on the Conflict,” Justice Joseph Story wrote, “Marriage is in its origin a contract of natural law. It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic.” Indeed, marriage and family are a critical pillar of Liberty.
So, what are Obama and his Democrat Party leaders doing to restore marriages and families across our nation?
Nothing. And in fact they are overtly hostile toward these vital foundational institutions.
Democrats are not only responsible for the so-called “Great Society” policies that have been instrumental in destroying families; they are advancing that destruction in every way possible.
Their most successful assault on marriage and family since Obama took office has been the “progressive” homosexual agenda.
Though only 3.4% of Americans self-identify as “gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered,” the pernicious advancement of their agenda is very well funded, coordinated and executed. Consequently, almost half of adult Americans believe that 20-25% of Americans are LBGT. Part of the misconception might be that the highest percentage of LBGT are among the high-profile entertainment and Beltway media elite.
Notably, it is women, youth and those with lower education who buy into the big percentage myth, which is why Democrats depend on their emotive voter strategy for election and re-election.
Having declared June as “LGBT Pride Month,” Obama, who tweeted accolades about how courageous “Caitlyn” Jenner is, announced the first appointment of a “transgendered woman” to a senior government post, and invited Army Gen. Randy Taylor to introduce his “husband Lucas” at a “Pentagon Gay Pride” event this month. (For the record, there is no such thing a “transgendered,” and the word itself constitutes an egregious deception. A gender disoriented person may “identify” as the other gender, but they will always be the same gender they were at conception. The notion of so-called “gender reassignment” is equally fallacious.)
In addition to the Democrats’ state-by-state assault on marriage, so-called “gay advocacy” organizations are targeting institutions that have strong family traditions, such as the church, our military service branches and even the Boy Scouts of America.
Now, for the record, I’m a borderline Libertarian when it comes to personal Liberty, and as such I believe it’s up to individuals to determine with whom they want to be “intimate.” But Obama’s “gay” agenda has nothing to do with individual freedom and everything to do with undermining Liberty and empowering the state.
So where to go from here?
The fate of the fatherless is, at best, a broken heart. At worst, it is the root cause of the social entropy we observe in contemporary American culture.
On this Father’s Day Centennial, we should pay tribute to the irreplaceable institutions of marriage and fatherhood — and the importance of a father’s love, discipline, support and protection for his children. Every day, those of us who are fathers should encourage other fathers to be accountable for their marriages and their children.
There is much that can be done for the fatherless — mentoring, coaching little-league sports, tutoring and volunteering to work with high-risk kids through an inner-city ministry, to name just a few. We, as American Patriots, must bridge the gap for these kids.
With this in mind, I encourage you to support these good marriage and family advocacy organizations:
Tony Dungy, the former professional football player who coached the Indianapolis Colts to their 2007 Super Bowl victory, has devoted much of his post-football years to coaching fathers. His All Pro Dad fatherhood mentoring organization produces an outstanding resource, a daily email for dads called the “Play of the Day.” If you’re a father of young children, I highly recommend you click here for this great resource and spread the word to other fathers. It’s a quick read, and I guarantee fathers will find something in every edition that will improve their relationships with their children and their wives.
Also visit First Things First, an outstanding organization under the leadership of my friend Julie Baumgardner. There are other fine national fathering resources at the National Center for Fathering and the National Fatherhood Initiative, Focus on the Family and James Dobson’s great resources, American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Art of Manliness, and my colleague Jim Lee’s Living Free Ministries.