Understanding broken families and their impact on youth, schools, workplaces, communities, and the criminal justice system is critical to America.
Due to the prevalence of divorce, America has essentially become a nation of one-parent families, usually the mother. There are too many children who tragically do not have any relationship whatsoever with their fathers. This heartbreaking reality is a national crisis.
Changes to the inner mechanism of the family have serious consequences on society.
In no way do I wish to judge any individual who has experienced divorce but only to shed light on the extraordinary volume of divorces. This has been learned from my own experiences with divorce and my presentations nationwide on issues critical to America.
Fatherless Homes: Alarming Concerns
Divorced or not, youth need the love and presence of both parents. According to various sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Justice, fatherless homes account for 63 percent of youth suicides, 90 percent of homeless/runaway children, 85 percent of children with behavior problems, 71 percent of high school dropouts, 85 percent of youths in prison, and well over 50 percent of teen mothers. Over 24 million children, 34 percent, live apart from their fathers.
In too many cases, children are discouraged from developing a strong relationship with the noncustodial parent, usually the father. If the custodial parent suffers from a lack of emotional character, the child can be used as a weapon against the other parent, and it is the child who is torn apart by venomous vindictiveness, deceit, and manipulation.
This lack of a father’s influence in the family contributes to the deterioration of values in society and can lead to violence in the family, school, and community. This escalation must be understood not only in the context of major school violence tragedies, but in daily incidents of anger, harassment, aggression, crime, and bullying.
Children Need Both Parents
The best interest of the child must be the highest priority throughout any separation and divorce process. While the courts may pay lip service to this statement, in my personal experience, the reality is that the current legal system sets up a contentious environment between the litigants where the only winners are the lawyers.
Even more tragically, America has a crisis of character and too often, dishonesty is rewarded by the courts and incompetent therapists who rush to the next case without the wisdom to unravel the truth.
Each of us can make a profound contribution to our community by making sure that our children’s emotional well-being is first. America’s parents must always be respectful, honest, and dignified. When they fall from grace, they must seek forgiveness from all, especially the child.
Children need both parents. A good mother provides emotional strength, insight, encouragement, intercession, and guidance.
A good father provides discipline, understanding, counsel, fortitude, and direction. A child needs the qualities of each parent, and the absence of either can have a negative effect on the emotional life of the child.
These reflections assume that each parent is responsible and emotionally well grounded. Destructive influences, abuse, or inappropriate behavior by any parent is not acceptable, and every human effort must be made to remedy harmful negative influences.
For some individuals, a transition to another family, especially when one escapes an environment of hostility, despair, or abuse can be an opportunity for a new life. Yet, for too many of our nation’s youth, shattered families can lead to discouragement, disillusionment, and even violent rage.
Family: Critical to Community
The family is first and foremost the primary source of education for all of society and is critical to a community’s health. Each and every human being enters the world through a family and every human being is communal by nature.
If a family setting is destructive, dishonest, or shattered, a child can be prone to tension, anguish, and even hostility.
Although there are different types of families deserving respect, the family, understood as a loving community of a father, mother, and children must never be trivialized.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com