“Recognizing that fatherhood is a sacred thing” published in AZCentral

Recognizing that fatherhood is a sacred thing

Albert Celoza

Special to The Republic

Women predominantly carry the burden of single parenting. This might not come as a surprise. It is, however, notable that in a study of 130 countries, the United States has the highest rate of single-parent households, while children in China, Nigeria and India have no more than 5% of the population in single-parent households. In the U.S., almost 1 in 4 live with just one parent. More striking is that in 2022, there were about 15.78 million children living with a single mother in the United States, and about 3.44 million children living with a single father, according to www.statista.com.

In his book ‘Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It,’ public policy expert Richard Reeves describes that modern men as well as boys are struggling with substance abuse, despair, suicide and increasing gaps in education and employment. Men and boys have not been able to adapt to the demands of structural economic changes with the decline of manufacturing jobs and the increase in the service sector. A cultural trend called ‘toxic masculinity’ has exacerbated this problem. This can be traced to emotional suppression (‘boys don’t cry’) and pressures toward aggressive and dominant behavior, social isolation (‘going it alone’), and the reluctance to seek care.

In a sermon I delivered on Father’s Day 2023, I asked the question, ‘Where have all the fathers gone?’. This question has driven my ongoing search for answers and reflection about current challenges in society. I was enlightened to know that there are deliberate efforts to educate parents and families with the fundamental idea that fatherhood and motherhood are sacred. It was my Golden Rule moment to learn about Native American Fatherhood and Families Association (NAFFA).

While my own parents did not have to have training to raise their children, we however live in a different society, perhaps more stressed with multiple conflicting demands. The word ‘parenting’ came about after 1945 and in the past few decades has been more frequently used. Since 2002, NAFFA has created educational curriculum and training programs for parents across the United States and Canada. NAFFA’s mission is to strengthen, keep, and reunite families by responsibly involving fathers and mothers in the lives of their children, families, and communities. In the process, it has created a real passion in parents to take a leadership role in keeping families together and growing healthy children.

The Arizona Interfaith Movement (AZIFM) has established the Golden Rule Award to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations that have exemplified the Golden Rule. On November 9, AZIFM will honor NAFFA together with other nonprofit organizations like Catholic Charities and Childhelp for their purposeful social impact. It will also recognize ASU President Michael Crow and the 11-year-old founder of the Loving Library, Anaik Sachdev, as individuals who have made a difference toward the common good.

Join AZIFM at the awards banquet for Golden Rule stories and examples that are inspiring and impactful. Please go to https://tinyurl.com/GoldenRuleBanquet for more information on the banquet. May we all live the Golden Rule!

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