Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Who Blesses The Fatherless Child?

Them thats got shall get
Them thats not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news

Billie Holiday/Arthur Herzog Jr.

I recently read a piece that said 70% of black children are living with single-mothers. [1] This is outrageous and even more outrageous is the lack of discussion in the black community that it gets. Let me give you some statistics before I go on:

* Children from fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor, and ten times more likely to be extremely poor.
* Seventy percent of juveniles in reform school and long term prison inmates come from fatherless homes.
* Children from fatherless homes are twice as likely to be high school drop outs.
* Fatherless children have more emotional and behavioral problems.
* Girls from fatherless homes are three times as likely to be unwed teenage mothers. Adolescents in mother-only families are more likely to be sexually active, and daughters are more likely to become single-parent mothers.
* Boys from fatherless homes have a higher incidence of unemployment, incarceration, and noninvolvement with their own children.
* Ninety percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
* Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
* Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
* Eighty percent of rapists come from fatherless homes.

These statistics are horrific and should be frightening to all of us. This is not an essay to denigrate or in any way to belittle the single mothers in our community nor is this an essay to espouse any religious viewpoint. This isn’t about morality or social norms; it is about the self-destruction taking place in our communities. The numbers don’t lie, as more and more of our children are being raised in the single mother environment it is proving detrimental to us as a people and as a nation.

Why is it that whenever this subject is breached we bristle at its fundamental conclusions and become defensive, wanting to change the subject. Until we come to grips with this as a people, even if we do overcome all of the external pressures coming against us, we will still remain entrenched in poverty and violence. Our communities are broken, because so many of our homes are broken. As the number of single mother households has increased so has the degradation of our neighborhoods, schools, and social fiber. Do the math; there is a correlation in the rise in crime, the level of violence, and the gang mentality and the rise in single mother households. Are we to conclude that these results are from happenstance? It is this attitude of denial that has allowed this epidemic to go unchecked.

This is not a slam at women. The last time I checked making babies required both a male and a female under natural conditions. There are those who claim that the importance of the father in the home is overstated, I completely disagree and believe the research bears me out. In 13 studies conducted on children from single mother homes, 11 of the studies reported negative results. It is difficult to discuss an issue this personal, but the consequences of these decisions affect us all.

We must begin to demonstrate to our children the benefits of waiting to have children. We must convince our young men and women that it is in their best interest as well as in the interest of their future children to wait. We need to show them the consequences of not waiting and how it will negatively impact their lives. We must begin to stress the importance of education and personal responsibility in the growth of their lives. We cannot expect others to do what we are not willing to do for ourselves. There is a host of issues that our children face that are external, but in the end these won’t matter if we continue to send them out into the world unprepared for the world that awaits them. We must stop teaching about how the world should be and start preparing them for the world that is.

The raising of children requires both a man and a woman involved in the child’s life. I don’t care how many women I have been with, I don’t know what it takes to be a woman. I may know what I like about women, but I don’t know what it is to be a woman. I could not raise my daughter to be a complete woman because I don’t know, not because I don’t want to. We cannot continue to keep this circle of unwed mothers, children in poverty, and angry young men unbroken. Somehow we have to break the cycle or racism will be the least of our worries.


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