I dare you to Google this: Statistics Fatherlessness
Let me save you some pain…
- 43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census]
- 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Centre for Disease Control) I could fill this whole page with other jaw droppers…
I don’t imagine it’s a whole lot different in Australia either…
The brutal facts would appear, that fatherlessness, or more specifically, the effects of fatherlessness are at pandemic levels across society, and it’s delivering a whole stack of pain.
If these and other statistics surprise you, just like they surprised me, then Houston, we have a problem!
Why don’t we know this?
Why won’t this be on tonight’s news?
What makes me most curious is why we’re not more curious about this.
Maybe when it comes to major global issues like this, it’s just plain easier to pull the emotional plug and disconnect? To keep your head in the sand? To leave the issue in the too hard basket where it belongs & get on with life?
However, the collective absence of awareness and curiosity certainly isn’t gonna make this issue go away, so as long as we live with our heads in the sand, our posture creates a vulnerability similar to the prisoner who just dropped the soap in the shower – and you know how that plays out! We’ve gotta stand up.
If anyone should be more aware of and curious about the fallout of fatherlessness it’s me.
My Dad abandoned fatherhood when I was very young. He had his own demons, and found comfort in the bottle, but by the time I was 18 the bottle was singing its victory song, and I was permanently fatherless.
To cut a very long story short, Dad’s life didn’t turn out the way it could have, and I’m sure he didn’t grow up hoping to one day be an alcoholic abusive father, succumbing to an early death. Nobody does.
Regardless of how and why fathers abandon their posts as fathers, we must survey the damage it’s causing, and face the brutal facts. (Google those statistics)
In recent years I’ve had to face the reality of the impact of fatherlessness in my own life.
By taking my head out of the sand, (a change of posture) and allowing myself to engage with and get curious about what I’d been in denial from for so many years, it seems I’ve poked a sleeping bear.
And this bear is NOT happy!
My reality was that not poking this bear was causing more pain than poking it, so i’ve had to choose my pain.
And as I run for my life frantically through the woods, I’m discovering the depth of destruction that fatherlessness has brought me. Independence, control, fear, addiction, rebellion, aloneness, disconnection, denial, self protection and self promotion have all taken their toll regarding how I see myself, and how I behave.
At times it’s felt hopeless, and I’ve just wanted to put my head back in the sand and let that bear fall asleep again…
However, there’s another part of me that’s drawn, almost called if you will, to stay put, stand my ground, & face this ‘Goliath’ of an issue that has affected myself and all of us so deeply.
I know I’m in for an arse kicking if I continue, but I don’t want to be just another victim, another statistic any longer.
So let’s be realistic… We can’t stop fatherlessness from happening. The Horse has bolted on this one.
Sure, we can reach out and offer help to struggling fathers out there who are on the edge, working towards prevention, but I reckon our best bet is to address cure for now.
However, it will take the collective effort of society to engage with this challenge if we hope to make a dent at all.
We need to start a global conversation about fatherlessness.
I believe there’s a place within all of us just ready to get caught up in a cause that’s bigger than ourselves, and bigger than the pain of selfless engagement.
If we’re willing to enter the battle that comes with doing something about fatherlessness, we will get our arses kicked for sure, but maybe this is a battlefield worth dying on?
So where the hell do we start? How do we engage?
There’s a million different answers to this question, but I am going to offer only one.
Call it a starting point…
Surely you already know someone who grew up without their father, (or mother for that matter) regardless of how old they are? Age makes no difference.
What if you offered that person one hour of your time to sit down & listen to their entire life story, asking insightful questions, and letting them speak, without offering advice?
We all feel loved when we feel known, and when you offer someone your time in order to know them, they will feel loved. This addresses the central narrative that comes with fatherlessness: “I’m not loved.”
There’s such freedom that can come from simply telling your life story, but we rarely get the chance to do it. How often have you had the chance to tell yours?
By telling our stories we get clarity, and then we begin to connect the dots between what we believe about ourselves, and how we act. It’s a simple but powerful process. When we listen deeply to people, we can change their inner narrative from; “Nobody cares about me” to “Somebody cares about me”.
You don’t have to be a psychologist or even a parent yourself to do this. Anyone can do it.
Trust me, once you’ve heard someone’s life story, you’ll know what to do next.
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