I always look forward to Fathers Day in anticipation of enjoying the generosity of my two beautiful daughters. My appetite was whetted by an article entitled ‘Possible Fathers Day Gifts’ by Jolyon Attwooll in yesterdays Telegraph. From Jolyon’s extensive list, my top two gifts would be:
· A tour of the Bernabeu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid, where I could walk down the players’ tunnel and out on to the pitch, visit the Presidential Box and have a look at all those trophies up close.
· A day long whisky course at the Scotch Whisky Training School in Edinburgh, including talks on the history of the Scotch whisky industry and the art of blending and a 90-minute tutored tasting session.
Back to reality.......the most precious gift for me is just to be able to spend time with the girls. Sadly for many families, the mere presence of a father is a gift to be wished for. Indeed in a survey of 2000 children aged 4 to 12 about popular items requested from Santa, the tenth most popular Christmas wish on the list was a "Dad".
It is clear that family life in Britain is changing and not for the better. Figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that the types of families with children “changed significantly” between 2001 and 2011, with 62 per cent of children now living with married parents, 14 per cent with cohabiting couples and 24 per cent with a single parent.
Worryingly, the number of lone parents bringing up children on their own has risen “steadily but significantly” from 1.7m to 1.96m, rounded up to 2m by the ONS. Almost all (92 per cent) of these single parents were women: “Women are more likely to take the main caring responsibilities for any children when relationships break down, and therefore become lone parents.”
Commenting on the figures from the ONS, former director of the Centre for Policy Studies Jill Kirby makes the point that: ‘children need input from both parents in order to thrive. Research shows children growing up in fatherless homes are much less likely to do well at school and are at twice the risk of getting into problems with drink or drugs, or involved in crime.’
Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice was even more forthright arguing that, “this ‘breakdown’ of traditional family life shows that ‘society has a death wish’. Marriage is the best foundation on which to raise children, with all the evidence proving that time and time again. Successive governments have failed to support marriage as an institution.”
I know that most lone parents do an excellent job in rearing children. They deserve our support and prayers. Christians should also be praying fervently for the missing dads. The Bible teaches us that fathers have a vital role in the family as providers, nurturers, protectors and consistent role models, particularly for boys.
Without the presence of a father in the home, boys will look to role models elsewhere and there is a whole raft of popular but morally bankrupt individuals in pop music and football waiting in the wings shouting ‘look at me !!!’