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“My dad wasn’t there to teach me how to be a man, so I looked to my friends,” he said. “I didn’t have no one to look up to. I had to teach myself everything.” – a 30 year old father, convicted felon.

We, as a society, condemn the fatherless around us, saying they should be men, but who was there to teach them? I do not believe that a boy can grow up to be a man by himself. A man must teach a boy to be a man! Boys learn from their environment, their peers, and adults in their lives such as coaches, teachers, pastors, etc.

Deseret News (Salt Lake City) reports that “one-third of American children in America are growing up without their biological father, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” Let me say thank you to step fathers, coaches, teachers, pastors, and male family members for stepping in when Dad is absent! There are many men today that are healthy and stable because of these men that filled the gap. But we cannot ignore the facts of fatherlessness in America:

  • According to www.fathersunite.org children from fatherless homes are:
    • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
    • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
    • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Source: Center for Disease Control).
    • 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Source: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).
    • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (Source: National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).
    • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. (Source: Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections, 1992).
    • These statistics translate to mean that children from fatherless homes are:
      • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
      • 32 times more likely to run away
      • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
      • 14 times more likely to commit rape
      • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
      • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

I remember a time when a young man, about 18-20 years old, became disrespectful and aggressive towards me. I had told him, in a calm manner, that he was breaking the rules. He became angry, calling me an old man and told me that we could go outside to the alley to handle it! For some reason it made me laugh, which just made matters worse! He finally left, talking at me the whole time.

Within a short amount of time, I began to ask myself about who this young man’s father was or if a father was even around. Where did he learn this way of responding to male authority? The young man came back to Sox Place a couple of weeks later, and I was able to apologize to him for my response toward him, for I became angry because of the way he came at me. I told him that he broke the rules, but I was wrong in the way that I responded to him, and that I should not have laughed. He was very apologetic, saying it was he that owed me an apology! We shook hands, and I won a friend.

So next time you look at a young man who looks or acts as if he doesn’t know how to be a real man, consider his upbringing or the “role models” he grew up with.  Don’t have a judgmental attitude; think about where his father is. Maybe he had to learn about being a man from a gang or a drug dealer or one their peers who didn’t know how to be real man himself. More than once a street kid has come to me with tears, asking me to teach him how to be a man. They said they were jealous of my sons and wanted me to give them the same that I had given them.

The vast majority of street kids who have come through Sox Place and my life are good kids, just some really bad things have happened to them. So I will continue to “bring the Father’s heart (love) to the fatherless!”


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