Dad-Focused Ministries Foster Faithfulness Among Fathers
- Allie Martin and Jenni Parker Agape Press
- 2005 5 May
(AgapePress) - A Maryland-based organization is trying to reverse a nationwide trend toward absent fathers in the United States. The National Fatherhood Initiative was formed in 1994 to address the problem of far too many children growing up in homes without responsible, committed and actively involved dads.
Statistics show that nearly 75 percent of American kids growing up in single-parent homes will experience poverty before they reach the age of 11. Research indicates that children living in homes without dads are more likely to be suspended from school, drop out of school, or be treated for emotional or behavioral problems. And studies have shown that an overwhelming percentage of violent criminals are males who grew up without fathers.
Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), says the problem of absentee fathers is clearly one that affects all areas of society. "On average," he notes, "when kids grow up without involved fathers, they do worse across just about every measurement of child well-being. So we were formed to really try to address that issue in a broad-based way."
But sadly, Warren notes, the significance of fatherhood has been minimized in American culture and dads have been either downplayed or portrayed unfavorably by the mainstream media. "Over the last 30 years or so," he explains, "we really have had a notion that dads are superfluous. And then, when you look at media portrayals of dads, they're either dumb, dangerous, or defective."
When messages like this are continually poured out over a culture, the NFI spokesman observes, "particularly with the impact that media has on our culture, it certainly is not an environment that encourages and inspires boys to be good, involved, responsible and committed fathers." That, he points out, is what his organization -- and American fathers -- are up against.
NFI works to address this culture and media "image problem" by partnering with public, private, and faith-based organizations to underscore the message that fatherhood is important. The group also holds training institutes and workshops designed to help men become responsible fathers. So, even as it engages the culture about the problem of absentee dads, NFI is also working to help more men become a powerful, active, and influential presence in the lives of their kids.
Project Father's Day Equips Dads With Biblically Sound Books
Man in the Mirror is another group that is working to promote fatherhood and to reach out in encouragement to "at-risk dads" and others. David Delk, president of Man in the Mirror, observes that the role of fathers is changing in America as social pressures, temptations, waning commitment, and a host of other factors present dads with unprecedented challenges.
While a father's primary goal should be to "discipline the heart of his child to love God and others," Delk says, in many homes this is simply not happening. And the reason, he contends, is that many men "have lost touch with their hearts," which has had the effect of weakening their family units. That is why the Orlando, Florida-based Man in the Mirror ministry has for 15 years focused on offering fathers practical resources to bolster their faith and to focus their priorities and values.
For the past five years, Man in the Mirror has carried out this mission in part through its Project Father's Day effort. This successful annual campaign provides books to churches, individuals, and businesses for about $1 per book, and since 2000 the program has put more than five-million books into the hands and hearts of people throughout the U.S. Among the titles being offered this year are Chuck Colson's Loving God; Bob Buford's Halftime; Patrick Morley's Dad in the Mirror, The Man in the Mirror, and Devotions for the Man in the Mirror; Bob Reccord's Beneath the Surface; and Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World.
Delk points out that men can hardly be successful at mentoring and passing along godly direction to their sons and daughters if, as fathers, they are not spiritually in tune with God's Word and in touch with themselves. Man in the Mirror's president says the Project Father's Day campaign is providing dads and others with life-changing resources that have proven valuable in transforming the hearts and lives of men.
National Fatherhood Initiative (http://www.fatherhood.org)
Man in the Mirror (http://www.maninthemirror.org)
© 2005 Agape Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.