This past month, we celebrated Father’s Day. Yet, we do not pause enough to discuss how critical the role of a healthy, emotionally engaged father, or father figure, is in the life of a young person. The reality is that the number of young people living without their fathers is on the rise. A Pew Research Center study of 130 countries and territories indicated that the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. Almost a quarter of U.S. children under the age of 18 live with one parent and no other adults (23%), more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%). These statistics have significant implications for Generation Z (b. 1996-2010) and Generation Alpha (b. 2011-).
In their book, The Importance of Fathers in Healthy Development of Children, authors Rosenberg and Wilcox explain that involved fatherhood is linked to better outcomes on nearly every measure of child wellbeing, from cognitive development and educational achievement to self-esteem and pro-social behavior. Children who grow up with involved fathers are: 39% more likely to earn mostly A's in school, 45% less likely to repeat a grade, 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school, twice as likely to go to college and find stable employment after high school, 75% less likely to have a teen birth, and 80% less likely to spend time in jail. Fathers matter.
As we consider the challenges facing young people today, they desperately need fathers who are actively and emotionally engaged in their lives. We also need men who provide encouragement and mentoring to young people who do not have fathers in their lives. For those growing up without fathers, finding positive role models and mentors is important, as is pursuing a life of faith. In this month’s episode of The Leading Tomorrow podcast, I discuss this in more detail with my guest, Jesse Chukwemeka Umeh.
Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy, author, speaker, college instructor and coffee drinker who is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders for effective service!