When I think about the 24 million children in the United States who live apart from their biological father (that's 34 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau) I wonder what kind of profound emotional effect that has on children being raised by single mothers. The fact that there are 5.6 million men in prison throughout the United States -- 78 percent of whom grew up in fatherless households -- speaks volumes about the cycle of emotional distress that continually contributes to psychological dysfunction of many troubled youths today.
Yet when a child is born to parents who are not married to each other the mother gets custody of the child unless the father goes to court for a different arrangement. Needless to say, millions of children are growing up in this country without their fathers. However, single fathers who want to be in their children's lives are often not given a chance to be there for many reasons, including parental alienation and parental interference.
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Through the years single fathers portrayed on popular television shows like "My Three Sons," "Full House," "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" and "The Andy Griffith Show" have always shown us that while it may be difficult for men to rise kids alone, it's not impossible -- as long as they have help. But the reality is most single fathers don't have help and have done a great job raising their kids despite the odds. Single fathers are increasingly taking a more active parental role in their children lives, resulting in fathers bonding more to their children.
This Father's Day, thank God that you don't have to be one of the "best dads in television history" to be a great dad to your children.
William J. Booker
Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood