According to the 2010 Census, of the 168,000 children living in Memphis, nearly 67,000 — about 4 in 10 — are living in a family with a female householder and NO FATHER PRESENT.
Later this month, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will host the Second Annual Memphis Training Camp for Dads. (Wharton is writing a guest column about the issue that will run with your response.)
From your perspective, how big is this problem? How do you see if effecting your congregation, your community, the culture at large? What can/should be done about it?
The phenomenon of fatherlessness is both absence and passivity. Absence is more rampantly obvious. Passivity is a present father who abdicates teaching his kids or requiring responsibility from them. He may be feeding and clothing children but he is not raising them. That dad also is “missing” in that he is derelict or negligent in shaping his kids’ character.
I applaud most any effort to, in Malachi’s words, “turn the hearts of fathers to their children” (Mal. 4:6). The benefits of dads respectably well-engaged with their children demonstratively ripple out from home to neighborhood to community. Years ago, our titled men’s ministry at First Evan was an assertion by acronym: M.A.N. (Men Are Necessary). It wasn’t meant to be chest-thumping braggadocio. It was meant to remind men that we aren’t optional to the roles we take upon ourselves, fatherhood being one of the most vital.
While writing this just now a friend in my church called me to share the news that his family is adopting a child later this summer. They met the birth-mother today, a teenage pregnancy. As have many others in our church my friend is doing the ultimate thing about fatherlessness in our own community: He is becoming Dad to one who would not know those arms around him otherwise. May his tribe increase.