A Father’s Day message from guest contributor Derek Oaks:

In 2009, over 4 million babies were born, of which 41 percent were to unwed mothers. Roughly 1.6 million youth were born into the country never to really know what Fathers’ Day is all about. They will never buy their dad a new tie, will never make him breakfast in bed, and will never go to Ponderosa or some cheesy buffet for Sunday Brunch.
Even worse, over 40 percent of children born in America today will never experience the joy of having their fathers come home from work. They will never revel in a fishing trip with their dads. They will never sneak away to the store to get ice cream and soda with their dads, ‘never to tell mom.’

Over half of those in poverty in the U.S. are from a single-mother family, with barely over 50 percent of single mothers able to work. And of those who do, a scant few hold down full time jobs that are able to keep their families above the poverty level, never mind help their kids climb out of poverty through education and other opportunities. Even more daunting is the fact that 70 percent of all crimes are committed by young men who have no father present in their homes. Interestingly, single fathers are about only fractionally as likely to live below the poverty line and have as many problems with supporting their families.
We often shy away from these facts because it either puts struggling mothers in a bad light or does not seem to address the problem of ‘deadbeat dads’. But facts are facts, and any sociologist withhonesty has a hard time arguing against the destructive effects of a child never having a father to answer to, to guide them, and to provide for them.
I grew up in a very sheltered home. My father worked 60 hours a week, and he was often absent from our daily activities, but I never doubted his love for us. I look back now and think he was crazy to take five young children off into the middle of the mountains to fish for trout, or to think he could get any work out of our Saturday chore details, or that he could keep us happy while we all split McDonald’s meals and convinced us that it was a treat.
My father was never one to just sit and talk, and I look back and wonder if he really understood me in my youth. But in reality, he didn’t have to. I understood him. He was a man of integrity, of hard work, and of passion for what he believed in. I knew he had no tolerance for laziness, for excuses, and for disrespect for our mother. I knew my father was a man. He didn’t need to share with me his inner feelings, or tell me he cared, because those concerns never crossed my mind. I needed to know where my dad stood, what he would tolerate, what team he would cheer for, and what would bring down his wrath. I needed to know he was a man of faith, for whom doing what was right was the only option. I needed my dad to teach me by example what I should be when I grew up.
Now that I am a father, my previously-reserved father shares more with me than he ever did when I was a kid. We share a common profession, and live through each other’s experiences. He shares his previous frustrations with raising my siblings and I as I ask for his advice, and he helps me sort through my own answers. I see more of his weaknesses because I have now lived many of them, while I appreciate even more of his strengths.
We have many celebrities and pundits who tell us single parenting is a fact of life, just another family choice, and that the man does not always make a difference. I beg to differ. The numbers are on my side, but that really doesn’t matter on this day. Happy Fathers’ Day is where we give thanks for our fathers, and when I genuinely feel sorry for the literally millions of youth for whom this day means nothing. Thank you Dad for making Fathers’ Day mean so much to me. I love you.

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