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Fathers Day: we appreciate our men

Juliana D. Norwood | 6/15/2011, 5 p.m.

With Father's Day right around the corner, a multitude of special events honoring dads are marked on the calendars; retail stores are capitalizing on the opportunity to sell bundles of bowties and power tools; and even some awards are being given to make "Pops" feel appreciated for all that he does.

But with praise and recognition comes the criticism that we bestow on these men more credit than necessary, because they are only doing what should come natural to them in the first place.
Either way, each year the holiday sheds a light on how dire the problem is, especially in the African American community, where so many fathers are missing in action.

Studies have shown us how negatively households are affected, when a father isn't in the home.

Just to detail a few of the many statistics:

* 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bureau of the Census)
* 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. (HHS)
* 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
* 80 percent of rapists who are motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
* 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
* 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for All God's Children.)
* 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions (incarceration) come from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988)
* In a study of 700 adolescents, researchers found that "compared to families with two natural parents living in the home, adolescents from single-parent families have been found to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity."

Source: Carol W. Metzler, et al. "The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents," Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994)

It is evident that the presence of a father in the home is a necessary balance in a child's life, specifically in African American households, where the incidences of youth falling victim to violence and substance abuse are already higher than the average.

So yes, while much criticism is raised about the hype placed on these present fathers, the sad reality is that many Black households are missing the man of the house.

Adversely, although less common, there are some single fathers out there who are handling their responsibilities and more because of the absence of the mothers of their children.

Most recently NBA basketball star Dwayne Wade went through a rather embarrassing divorce, but fought for full custody of his two young boys and won, which isn't very common. When asked about having full custody in light of the upcoming Father's Day, Wade responded, "I can't say what we'll do for Father's Day, because since my sons came to live with me about two months ago, every day has been like Father's Day. I just want people--men and men of color in particular--to hear my story and know that their children need them and it's their responsibility to be there for them. We have to step up as men and do our part. There are no excuses."

Additionally, President Barack Obama, who has always stressed the importance of fatherhood--as is evident by his relationship with daughters Sasha and Malia--has appointed Wade to be a part of a special parenting program that encourages fathers to be more active parents.

Overall, a nod of appreciation is warranted for the men who fulfill their responsibility to their children, and two nods for the handful that do it all on their own. If no one else says it, you are appreciated, because through your care, thousands of children are given opportunities to live better, balanced lives.