August 5 – Families: Fatherlessness

An American Tragedy 

Vital Sign Religious Freedom

You are blessed if you live in a happy family—or at least know both of your parents.  Millions of children across America have never called anyone “dad.”  The statistics are tragic. 

When was the last time you watched a group of children file into a school classroom? According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 19.7 million children this year are living without a father. That’s more than one in four! 

Most (84 percent in a recent survey) believe that a strong family is foundational to a strong America. Sixty-seven percent of those polled believe that the decline of the family is harmful to American growth and prosperity, and 65 percent think that children who grow up fatherless are at a significant disadvantage in life. Most believe that parents should carry the responsibility for the rearing of their children while 11 percent would make it a community responsibility. 

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the United States has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households of any nation in the world, and about 80 percent of those are headed by single mothers. By comparison, the number of children raised by one parent is 3 percent for China and 4 percent for India. 

Children raised in single-parent homes are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems as those who live with two parents. These children are at five times the risk of developing mood disorders.

It is not surprising, then, to find that 90 percent of homeless and runaway children, 63 percent of teen suicides, and 85 percent of children and teens with behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. A child in a fatherless home is more likely to go to prison, commit a crime, face abuse or neglect, or abuse drugs and alcohol. A child without an active father is also 4 times more likely to experience poverty, 2 times more likely to drop out of high school, and the likelihood of teenage pregnancy increases by 7 times. 

The Family Research Council has called fatherlessness one of the most important, albeit ignored, social issues of our time. And a Freedom Center article from June 2020 concludes, “When the family unit is in shambles, society often follows. The value of the family is more than a political talking point or policy issue. Because the family is a cornerstone of society, it must be protected. Civilization cannot prosper without its backbone.” 

Throughout the Word of God, you are admonished to care for the fatherless, the orphan, and the widow. God’s heart is tender toward them, and He desires that yours be also. In Malachi 4:6, God has promised there will come a time when “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.” 

How then should we pray? 

  • For single-parent families and the challenges that they face. 
  • For Christian men in communities across the land to find a child to mentor or show tenderness to, with consistency and truth. 
  • That America’s young men would be taught from an early age how to be a father, for many do not have role models at home. 
  • That, according to His will for you, God would show you a way to be involved in the life of a fatherless family or child, bringing them God’s love and promises. 

See previous Pray 7 daily featured readings.

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