From Father Knows Best to Father Doesn't Matter

In America, roughly 39,000 suicides take place each year – 30,000 of which are committed by men. Ironically, most suicide literature will usually have a woman depicted on front with little attention paid to the mental health and wellness of men. This is because women overwhelmingly attempt suicide (a cry for help) while men overwhelmingly follow-through (an act of frustration and despair). Such feelings of despair and frustration are now being felt elsewhere in our society as well.

The number of American males valuing marriage is plummeting. According to Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike, approximately one-third of American men do not value marriage. Even college-degreed men, whom usually marry at a rate of over 80%, are beginning to no longer value marriage even as the number of women valuing marriage is skyrocketing. When men get married, research is proving that their connections and support groups dwindle – thus isolating them socially and emotionally. This is evident with the popular "man cave" as it is representative of how society and families now treat men. In prior decades, the man was "king of the castle" and adored for his hard work and sage advice. Today, men have become the butt of family jokes as they get the worst parts of the house where they have to carve out a nook to get a little relief and control. And, should a divorce happen, men following the Christian ideals of family life usually get hurt the most financially, emotionally, and with the loss of their own children.

Socially, men are looked down upon more than at any other time in history. Men are seen more as criminals than social pillars. Dennis Prager, a syndicated radio talk show host, recently noted that in a single generation, "We have gone from father knows best to father doesn't matter." Mr. Prager describes a world that has gone on the decline as subversive policies and agendas have belittled the importance and impact of moral men in our society.

Verily, the greatest impact on men boycotting society has involved the future well-being of our nation's children. It is well known that fatherless children are more likely to grow up impoverished and victims of neglect, abuse, and sexual molestation at significantly higher rates. However, the true impact of fatherless homes isn't understood until the data is reviewed in greater detail.

The U.S. Department of Health notes that 63% of youth suicides come from fatherless homes – five times the normal average. The Center for Disease Control notes that 85% of all children who have mental or behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the normal average. The Journal of Family and Culture once noted an over 100% increase in juvenile self-identification as "homosexual" once a father leaves the home. Pediatrics journal noted in 2011 that homosexual teens are five times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual teens. Fatherless teenage girls are 711% more likely to have children as a teen, 53% more likely to marry as a teen, and 92% more likely to get divorced. Over 50% of women in prison came from fatherless homes. Over two-thirds of teens in chemical dependence programs come from fatherless homes. And, according to the National Principals Association, some 71% of high school drop-outs come from fatherless homes.

As men become frustrated and full of despair, so does our society and the children of this nation. Despite a 93% chance of being killed on the streets, teens still decide it best to run away from home than to stay in their present living conditions – 90% of these teens are fatherless. The over 6% of the juvenile population is incarcerated each year – many tried as adults on felony and misdemeanor charges.

If this country is ever to change, our youth are ever to regain their hope, and the church is ever to grow, we must take a stance on the importance of men in society and their duty to society. Pastors and priests cannot, and should not, belittle man's role in family and society anymore – even if done in jest. It cannot be suggested that man should take a passive role in society or in their families. Strong male role models should be used to help children more effectively cope and grow. And, most importantly, the church must start a public and male-centric dialogue on the problems facing men, fears of men, the needs of men in contemporary society, the importance of men in family and social structures, the Biblical role of men, and how America's hatred of men is killing our youth and our nation's future.

Ken Johnson is a Collaborative Justice writer with certification from the Florida Supreme Court as a County Court Mediator and training in Restorative Justice from the University of West Florida

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