E-pistle June 18

Good Dads Spotted
(Scroll down for your homework assignment)
Have you noticed those good dads out there? You know, they still outnumber the deadbeats. But the number of deadbeats has been rising and the number of good dads has been sinking. The signs aren’t good.
Cumulative effects are tricky things. One Big Mac once in awhile won’t hurt you. Neither will two. But the cumulative effect of too many Big Macs may be clogged arteries and a national epidemic of obesity. Not doing your homework once in the semester may not hurt you. Twice may change your grade and not doing it ever probably means a failed course.
The community can handle one dad checking out on his family. In fact, we managed when about 10% of our families were “father absent.” The inevitability of death, divorce and abandonment means that there will always be father absent homes. The Bible is adamant in its demand for justice for the widow and the orphan, those in father absent homes. Father absence is a reality in our LPC family and we do not condemn, Lord make us ready and willing to “defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow.”
But we’re living now with the cumulative effects of father absence. Nationally over 23%, about 1 in four, children live in father-absent homes and the number exceeds 50% in some parts of the country. To cite just one government report:

Children from father-absent homes are five times more likely to live in poverty, 3 times more likely to fail in school, two to three times more likely to develop emotional and behavioral problems, and three times more likely to commit suicide. 

Father absence is not the result of a single catastrophic event. The numbers have been oozing upward for fifty years, and like the frog in kettle, we’re getting used to the warm water.  But it is a national disaster. The cumulative effects are and will be devastating.
Okay, but the point is not to ruin your Father’s Day weekend. The fact of the matter is that cumulative effects go both ways. One walk around the block probably won’t do you much good. Neither will two. But the cumulative effect of walking two and then three and then four blocks every day are nothing less than wonderful. 
The cumulative effects of good fathering are likewise nothing less than wonderful. And if those of us who are fathers – fathers with children at home and fathers with adult children – all just got a little better at it we might even stem the tide that’s bringing the muck onto the beaches.
One of the things Becky and I find ourselves doing from time to time is noticing good dads.  Last evening we were walking through Tyler State Park and we spotted several good dads. One was skipping stones across the water with his eight or nine year old son. Another was fishing with his teenage son. A third was cuddling his infant daughter.
When you see daddies patiently teaching their little girls to ride a bike or willingly doing diaper duty, when you see a father reading to his kids or teaching in the Sunday School, you’re witnessing something wonderful, something that just may change the world.
Have you seen any good dads lately? Would you let me know what you see? If you’ve got a story to tell, just use this contact form. It will come back to my box and I will collect the stories and share them with all of you.
And this summer when you’re out and about and you see a good dad – in a restaurant or on an airplane, at the park or in pew in front of you – if you have chance why not tell him you noticed. He just might appreciate knowing that he’s changing the world.