Happy Father’s Day message from Larry

This month we celebrate the fathers in our lives.  It is the one day of the year that is dedicated to celebrating the invaluable role our fathers play in our lives. It’s a special time to thank all of the fathers and remind them how much we appreciate and love them. 

My father was of the great generation: those men and women who fought for our liberties during World War II.  I remember the day we took him down to the railroad station to leave.  I was just 4 years old.  And while I didn’t understand the full impact of what was to happen, I do remember my mother sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of my father never returning home again.

Three years later, on a snowy January night my father walked in the door of our rural home in Indiana to stay for good.  That was a great evening and I remember it vividly.  My mother could not control her emotions again as she cried for sheer joy and delight. I recall those three long years without a dad.  That’s the closest I have ever been to feeling what 1 out of 4 children face today in America: an absent father.

Why are dads so important and what do statistics tell us about the importance of fathers? 
Here is some data collected by a federal commission on fatherhood:

Nearly 40% more likely to earn mostly A’s in school.

45% less likely to repeat a grade.

60% less likely to be expelled or suspended from class.

80% less likely to spend time in jail.

75% less likely to have a teen birth. 

85% of youth who are currently in prison grew up in a fatherless home. (Texas Department of Corrections)

— 7 out of every 10 youth who are housed in state-operated correctional facilities, including detention and residential treatment, come from a fatherless home. (U.S. Department of Justice)

— 39% of students in the United States, from the first grade to their senior year of high school, do not have a father at home. 

— Children without a father are 4 times more likely to be living in poverty than children with a father. (National Public Radio)

— Children from fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out from school before graduating than children who have a father in their lives.

While these are frightening statistics regarding the future of our nation, research also shows that children absorb the moral values from how they see their fathers’ engaging in the world.  

When good dads are engaged, their kids are more flexible and accepting of differences, and possess greater emotional self-control. A good dad exhibits pro-social behavior and instills a reliable “Golden” compass in his children.   

I’m referring to the compass of EMPATHY, CIVILITY, KINDNESS and RESPECT to guide one’s actions.  The compass is foundational in the  Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences (AGREE) program, provided for Arizona schools.  Whether a dad is present or is absent, the AGREE program is invaluable to our community in providing a model for our children to engage in.  For more information on the AGREE program you can go to: azGoldenRule.org

To fathers everywhere, may you be blessed for the important role you fill in the success of families and our nation.  Sometimes it is not possible for fathers to remain at home but what is possible is that they can still maintain a relationship with their children and provide that most important role model so needed for our children’s future. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Arizona Interfaith Movement StaffRev. Larry Fultz, Executive Director

P.S. May we “Live the Golden Rule” – our AZ license plate is a beautiful reminder and available at www.servicearizona.com