John R. Hawkins III
One of my favorite days of observation is Father’s Day. No, it is not because I am a father and grandfather, and I get to do anything my heart desires. I think Father’s Day is so important to me because it recognizes the single most important duty and concern of any man able to father or adopt a child. From my foxhole, that is the requirement to be a dad.
Now ladies, my hat is off to you and gentlemen let us be mindful, that but for the existence of mothers, there would be no fathers and history tells us that is true for the existence of the Father’s Day observance as well. The establishment of Mother’s Day, dating back to the late 1860s and eventually codified by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 as the second Sunday in May, led to the feeling that such an observance should exist for fathers. It seems however, that the creation of Father’s Day would not happen as easily as Mother’s Day.
Although the nation’s first recorded event explicitly in honor of fathers was held at a West Virginia church in 1908, it would be another 64 years before President Nixon would receive and sign a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday. Today it is estimated that over $1 billion is spent each year on Father’s Day celebrations and gifts.
I am not here to argue if economic interest created Father’s Day or not; however, I am interested in how such an occasion can provide us with the reason to pause and reflect on just how important fatherhood and being a Dad is to our society. Without men performing acts of fatherhood, bad things happen in our society.
According to statistics gathered by The 100 Fathers, a non-profit organization, something called Absent Daddy Syndrome (ADS) is one of the causes of the bad statistics among our youth. It is credited with producing: (1) 80% of all rapists; (2) 70% of long term prison inmates; (3) 85% of youth in prisons (4) 70% of juveniles in state-run facilities; (5) 71% of High School drop-outs; (6) 72% of adolescents in alcohol and other substance abuse programs; (7) 63% of youth suicides; (8) 90% of homeless and run-away children; and (9) 92% of absent fathers’ daughters are more likely to experience divorce in their marriages.
No, this is not limited to Blacks. The CDC and other government and non-governmental agencies have statistically proven that while there are more Black single mom homes with children than other races in the US, Black father involvement in their lives is greater than that of other races. For instance, it estimates that 67% of Black fathers who don’t live with their kids see them at least once a month, compared to 59% of White fathers and just 32% of Hispanic fathers. Impressive for Black fathers in comparison but, from my foxhole, it’s nothing to brag about.
Fatherhood, just like anything else, will only reap what you sow. If you are part-time about it, the results at best are iffy. As fathers across this nation of every, race, color religion and national origin get busy doing whatever one does now that Father’s Day has passed, let us commit to be full-time fathers. Let us practice fatherhood as best we can. Let fathers of today commit to do those things we know we should, no must do, to save our youth and allow them to witness the goodness we can and must bring to the table. As the 100 Black Men of America like to say in their mentoring program: “…they will be what they see.” Spending time, showing love and setting an example by acting the way you want them to act is not much to ask to save your child’s life.
Maj Gen US Army (ret) John R. Hawkins III, JD, MPA is President and CEO of Hawkins Solutions Intl., a government relations and lobby company. His last military assignment as a “two star” was Dir., Human Resources Directorate for the Army world-wide and prior to that Deputy Chief Public Affairs for the Army, world-wide.