Fathers: Heroes to Kids and Taxpayers

My five-year-old introduced me to his Vacation Bible School teacher last week as “the best sports player in the world.”

Over the weekend, my three-year-old requested I build him a pirate ship in the backyard.

As a friend left our house not long ago, the five-year-old observed, “Dad, you’re stronger than Cliff.” And the last time we were on a full-length basketball court, he asked me to shoot a basket from one end to the other. A nothin’-but-net no-brainer to a kid whose dad can do anything.

God gives dads kids to build their egos. God gives kids dads to be their heroes. Without such heroes, kids are profoundly disadvantaged. So is society.

Last year, the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) studied the effects of fatherless-ness. Drs. Steven Nock at the University of Virginia and Christopher Einolf at DePaul University noted that:

• 34 percent of children live absent their biological fathers

• 23 percent of children live in single-mother families compared to 8 percent in 1960

• 40 percent of single-mother families live in poverty; less than 10 percent of father-present families do

• The federal government spends at least $99.8 billion per year supporting father-absent homes

The indirect costs of father absenteeism are less calculable but no less identifiable: stress and anger from divorce and abandonment; mental and behavioral health issues; higher likelihood of alcohol and drug use, teen pregnancy and criminal misconduct; gender identity confusion; lower educational attainment and wages; etc.

The obvious public policy position is to promote and strengthen child-bearing marriages. On balance, father-present families produce more net contributors to our country and its treasury.

Here are some ways to begin rebuilding the fatherhood foundation:

1. End value-free education. Don’t give kids a condom and an abstinence brochure and say, “happy choosing.” Articulate that their futures will be more stable, profitable and healthful if they choose a “mate” wisely and commit to him or her for life. Admit that venereal diseases expose the folly of indiscriminant sexuality.

2. Rescind the sexual revolution that skyrocketed divorce rates and disillusioned an innocent generation. Couples couldn’t simply flip the fidelity switch after engaging with multiple pre-marital partners. Sexual appetites do not make standards meaningless. Standards give meaning to those appetites.

3. Clean up the airwaves and sight waves. For example, let the FCC curb Letterman’s sexually explicit joking about Gov. Palin’s 14-year-old daughter. Calvin Klein’s billboard portraying young people in a sexually explicit act should hit similar decency code roadblocks.

Critics will say such ideas encroach on free speech. However, free speech that exploits the young and promotes sexual chaos is hardly free. As the NFI study reveals, it is actually quite costly.


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