Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A thought for Fathers

We are reminded daily of the need for fatherhood in our society by the headlines that frequent our daily newspapers.  Headlines ranging from "Deadly night in Chicago- 14 shot, five killed" or "Five men charged with brutal rape of 14 year old girl" or even "Newtown shooter shoots mother and 26 more".  While dramatic, they do illustrate the need for Fathers        Being present in their children's lives. 

When I look back at the blessings of not only having had a great Dad and role model, but also having had my Grandfather and Uncles to lean back on- it really highlights how far our society seems to have changed.  We live in this hyper connected, self-absorbed world where one day leads into another and it seems so hard to stop and catch a breath for at least a moment.   It seems so easy to pull back and worry about one's self or the " things that matter most" - but in the end are we? 

If all we do is worry about what corresponds to us, how far have we really come?  I remember the days when families and neighbors all looked out for one another's kids.  I harken back to my days on Dobson street in Cottage Grove heights.  The community of middle-class families that all worked hard and wanted the same- a better life for their children.   "Better" ,meant different things to some .  Those who had migrated to Chicago from Southern states of Alabama or Mississippi to seek a better life in the well paying manufacturing jobs of the Midwest.  Perhaps they left family members behind in countries like Poland, Mexico or Ireland for the dirty steel mills of Chicago.   They brought with them their old world values of work ethic, personal responsibility,  Family first, and faith. 

It mattered not where you came from- rather what you made of yourself in this new country.   Fathers were the ones that served as the balance in the household.  I saw it growing up. 

As our communities have marginalized fatherhood- we have now started to see the impact across various cross sections of American Culture.  It didn't just happen overnight, it's crept up over a few decades.  The increase numbers of divorce, high percentage of children born out of wedlock,deadbeat dads, rise of single parent households.  The symptoms are everywhere.  All the while- society weeps at the outcome.   Increase in gang recruitment in cities like Chicago, increase in poverty among single parent households- while not solely attributable to the lack of presence of fathers- it makes you wonder.   

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