When I was a kid, Republican Vice President Dan Quayle decried the glamorization of single-parent families on popular television shows such as “Murphy Brown,” and he was mocked, on air, by Murphy Brown herself.
Well, today, a lot more people are listening, and a lot fewer are mocking. The statistics are just too clear.
In large parts of America, we have two or three generations of boys raised without their dads. In fact, 15 million kids in America live apart from their biological fathers—or one in three American children. A whopping 44 percent of children in mother-only households live in poverty, compared with just 12 percent living in intact homes. Further, 85 percent of prisoners have no relationship with their dads, while 63 percent of teen suicides come out of situations in which father is not at home.
It’s no wonder, then, that 92 percent of those polled by the National Center for Fathering say that dads make a “unique contribution” in their children’s lives, and that 70 percent see absentee dads as the biggest family or social problem in America. So what do we do about it?
Well, Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, answers that question on this week’s installment of BreakPoint This Week. He says the answer to societal breakdown begins at home. Jim, who’s been on the program before, has written the outstanding new book, “The Good Dad: Being the Father You Were Meant to Be.” Now note that Daly wants to help us become good dads, not perfect ones. In “The Good Dad,” Jim talks about his own struggles, both as a son and as a father.
Jim was abandoned not by one dad, but by three. He writes, “When my stepfather walked out of our life forever, he told us he couldn’t deal with it. That, to me, is the antithesis of fatherhood. God calls us as men to deal with discomforting situations such as the ones fatherhood can put us in.”
And yet Jim wasn’t condemned to a life of crime or poverty, which is very good news for those dads who fall short, as well as for their children. How in the world did Jim not only survive the experience, but end up thriving? You’ll find out in our interview. So come to BreakPoint.org to tune in.
Jim also impressed me by his hopeful, yet thoroughly honest approach to being a dad. He said fathers have three basic roles—leadership, provision, and protection—but they must be undergirded by commitment.
In the book Jim tells the story of Todd, a youth pastor and father who had just finished rappelling with his junior high group and was headed out the door of his home for another church activity. Todd stopped, knelt in front of his four-year-old daughter, and asked her to pray for him to share Jesus with teenagers. And her innocent response stopped him in his tracks: “Oh, good, Daddy!” she said. “When are you going to stay home and share Jesus with me?” It was a wake-up call for Todd, who felt called to quit “the ministry” for a position with GM that allowed him to spend more time with his family. That’s being a good dad!
And how do we fathers begin to “share Jesus” with our families? In the interview, Jim gives us some battle-tested advice on connecting with the heart of our children. We can start by sitting down and speaking with our kids about what we’re doing well and what we’re doing poorly. Honesty is better than so-called “perfection.”
And we need to be willing to carefully evaluate how we invest our time. For example, as Jim says, if we spend our Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday nights watching football, our kids will likely conclude that football is more important than they are. Can you blame them?
But back to the good news. As Jim says on BreakPoint This Week, you don’t have to be perfect to start “sharing Jesus” with your children. It can feel clumsy and uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, what your children want and need, is you. And our Heavenly Father stands ready to help.
Come to our website to listen to the interview with Jim Daly
, and we’ll tell you also how to get a copy of "The Good Dad."
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.