Dads, your children need you. Here are two reasons why divorced dads must stay engaged in the lives of their children: God and secular statistics tell us we must.
Since the beginning of time, God has commanded man to be the head of the family. The headship command is an issue of order not of who is better or more important. In divorce, man loses headship over his wife while maintaining it with his children. The father has the responsibility of leading his family to a closer relationship with the Lord. God will require it of the father on the day when all our deeds are judged by him. In Deuteronomy 5: 9-10, God tells us, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (NIV).
Barna research conducted a study to learn which family member has the most influence in leading other family members to attend church. The research determined that when a church reaches out to a father, 93% of the family becomes part of the church; by reaching out to the mother, only 17% of the family will become part of the church; and by reaching out to a child, only 7% of the family will become part of the church. God knew what he was doing when he made man the head of the family.
Does God know about the problems of a fatherless society? He commands us to care for the fatherless. In fact, the word fatherless comes up 43 times in the Bible. Unequivocally, God commands us to reach out to every child without a father, but today many loving fathers have had their children taken from them after a divorce.
Whether they walked away from their children or had their children taken from them, there are some frightening statistics that demonstrate how important it is for the biological father to be involved and engaged with his children.
Fatherless homes are found in…
Sixty-three percent of youth suicides (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
Ninety percent of all homeless and runaway children (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
Eighty-five percent of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders (Center for Disease Control).
Eighty percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger ( Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-428, 1978).
Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).
Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers (Rainbows for all God’s Children).
Seventy percent of all juveniles in state-operated institutions (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988).
Eighty-five percent of all youths in prison (Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992).
Seventy-on percent of pregnant teenagers (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
Removal of fathers
Walk-away fathers and their children are in need of prayer, counseling and strong spiritual and accountable role models. But what about the fathers who have their children taken away from them after divorce? Dads who only get to spend six days per month with their children have had their children taken away. Imagine for a minute what kind of relationship you would have with Jesus, or for that matter your spouse, if you only spent six days a month with them.
Loving, committed, sacrificial, and responsible fathers who want to be more than part-time dads are not given their God-ordained authority to lead their children because of unjust legislation, impartial judges, strong female lobbying groups and embittered ex-spouses.
These are the fathers that the church needs to help. God commands us to speak up for unborn babies and for marriage between a man and a woman, but legislation says otherwise. God commands the father, including divorced fathers, to be the spiritual leader of the family, but legislation says otherwise. The man is given headship over his children by God, and this command does not change even in cases of divorce. Engaging these loving, committed, sacrificial and responsible fathers is the missing link to a healthier, stronger church and society.
Church, reach out to divorced dads. Make a plea for fathers to come back to their children. Seek them out, reach out to them, love them. Make this a high priority. The church is always under attack by Satan. One of his most subtle attacks is to separate loving fathers from their children. This has lead to the demise of our society and is a contributing factor in the demise of the church.
Divorced dads, fight for your children. Nehemiah tells us, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives, and your family” (Nehemiah 4:14 NIV).
Children who live absent their biological fathers face tremendous obstacles. Yet we live in a society that thinks a divorced father is not important to the social, emotional, academic, physical and spiritual well-being of his children. Consequently, there is a “father factor” in nearly all of the social issues facing America and the church today.
You do not have to be a perfect father to be a loving and godly man. We’ve all made mistakes that we regret. Jesus paid the debt for all of our sins, but there are still consequences. The good thing is that there is nothing in this world that God cannot restore. He has power over all.
Dads, pick up the phone or, better yet, hold your children in your arms and tell them you love them and are proud of them. Do it today, and do it every day. Thereafter, get connected at a church and start fellowshipping with other godly men. In Philippians 4:13, we are told that, “We can do all things through Jesus.” If you are afraid or not sure if you can do it, contact me. We’ll do it together.
George Martos, a broken, blessed man and single father of three beautiful, precious children for the last 12 years. You can contact him at [email protected].