Written By – Richard Taylor, LCFS Foster Care Case Manager
“Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.” -Dr. David Popenoe, Sociologist
Father’s Day falls on June 16 this year, a time to gather for dinner, give dad the routine neck tie gift, and honor his contributions to fatherhood. But for many families it will just be another day of the week. Unfortunately, many of homes today are absent of fathers, giving no reason for celebration on a day to honor dads. As Father’s Day approaches, I want to reflect on the importance of two-parent households and how the role of fatherhood impacts a child – particularly through my experiences in the foster care system.
My experiences in child welfare, as a parent, and in life have shown me that children with both parents that are actively and positively involved in their lives are provided with a greater opportunity to be healthier and happier children and adults. Because we don’t live in a perfect world and things aren’t always the way we hoped they would be, often we have to improvise and make the best of what life offers us. Improvising is a life skill many single parent families have learned to perfect. Even if a particular single parent can be compared to super-mom or super-dad, the child may still be missing out on important contributions that only the other parent could offer.
Respected sociologist and renown author Dr. David Popenoe says children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies also suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities.
I find that since I am a father, the role of a child advocate comes easy to me. I have two daughters – Morgan (age 15) and Simone (age 8) – and they often serve as a reminder that fatherhood is both a privilege and a responsibility. I am also an advocate for fathers, as an agent for change in the child welfare system. I have been working in Lutheran Children and Family Service’s (LCFS) foster care department for more than ten years. In my experience, most of our foster homes are absent of fathers. Currently on my caseload, I have three foster homes where men are serving as foster fathers for the children in their care. I wish I was working with more foster fathers.
Foster care allows a child to reside in a safe and stable environment and have their needs met. State and agency guidelines say that a child can live in a safe and stable environment, and meet the needs of a child…without a father being present. This also is also true for homes outside of the child welfare system. Although that I have seen many children live happy and healthy lives in a single parent home, involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.
If more of our homes and foster homes had fathers who were willing and able to be positive contributors in the life of a child, the children in our society would benefit exponentially. I believe it is imperative that we get fathers more involved in the process of raising our children. Foster care allows a child to have the void of an absent father filled. Stepfathers allow the void of an absent father to be filled. Uncles allow the voids of an absent father to be filled. Any man, who is willing to be a father to child, can fill the void of an absent father.
On June 16, I hope we can have a new appreciation for the importance of fathers in the lives of children, and their presence in the home. On a day to honor fathers and men who position themselves to be a father to a child; let’s honor, encourage, and uplift these men. Their roles in our families are surely worthy of acknowledgement. Happy Father’s Day, “Daddy”.