Embracing the Fatherless on Father’s Day

By Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich

This Father’s Day, we celebrate dads across America who encourage, support, and guide their children. 

As we give thanks for these indispensable men, we should also remember the nearly 18.3 million children– about 1-in-4 – in the United States who are growing up without a father in their home. 

The United States has the highest rate of children being raised in single-parent households in the world, with 80 percent of single parent households being led by single mothers. 

Research compiled by the America First Policy Institute makes clear that fatherless children tragically face many challenges in their development. 

For instance, mental and behavioral struggles are two times more likely in children from single-parent households than in children with married parents. According to the National Center for Fathering, fatherless children are 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.

Additionally, success in school and academic achievement is also less likely for children without fathers in the home. Data from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse found that children without engaged fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school. Another report by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 71 percent of high school dropouts were raised in fatherless homes.

Further, delinquency and fatherlessness are closely connected as children that grow up in fatherless homes are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated. 

Thankfully, there are many organizations that are working to provide mentorship and support for children and young adults without active fathers in their lives.

Consider the Jack Brewer Foundation, which leads numerous initiatives for fatherless youth as well as programs to encourage fathers to be positive role models for their children. The Foundation offers various sports and community programs in addition to an after school and summer mentorship program for at-risk fatherless youth. 

For example, the Foundation’s sports teams and music programs offer at-risk and developing children the opportunity to learn discipline, character, and teamwork from coaches, mentors, and role models. According to the Foundation, “The goal of our Heroes Sports Academy is to give all demographics of young men the opportunity to be trained as servant fathers… Our program prepares men to mentor youth, while giving fatherless kids the chance to embrace and learn from strong father figures that they otherwise may have never had.”

Additionally, the Heroes 2nd Chance Fatherhood Program works to break the cycle of fatherlessness by offering critical rehabilitative resources to incarcerated men, many of whom grew up without fathers. 

Out of the approximately 2 million individuals in prison in the United States, more than 800,000 are parents. Ninety-two percent of parents in prison are fathers and, there are approximately 2.7 million children with at least one incarcerated parent.

As part of this program, incarcerated men participate in a 12 to 36 month program that “combines principles of self-governance, productivity, management, service and leadership, with proven active parenting, etiquette, life skills, substance and mental health programs, GED preparation classes, and vocational certificates to help fathers grow into dependable pillars in their families.” 

Moreover, the Fatherhood Foundation of Virginia offers new fathers the support and guidance they need through the New Dad Basics program, which is taught by experienced fathers.

Further, the Fatherhood Foundation of Virginia’s Inside/Out Dad program works with incarcerated fathers to help them overcome the challenges of their past and work toward a better future with their children. As one participant said, “This class helped me take steps to improve myself and I learned how to connect with my children to make sure that they never end up in a place like this.”

In addition, the Florida-based No Longer Fatherless organization recruits, trains, and matches mentors with fatherless men ages 6 to 19 years old. Participants take part in weekly mentoring sessions, life skill classes, and group activities. Lasting memories are created through the organization’s programs, as mentors teach mentees how to fish, grill, dress, and share experiences such as attending football games, engaging in community service projects, and playing sports.    

As we celebrate dads this Father’s Day, let us recognize the organizations that are working to alleviate the tragic fatherlessness crisis in America.