I grew up with a Father who I love. I have a son who I love. I grew up knowing about and learning about God the Father, who is also very real to me, and who I love. In a sense that means I can’t relate to the pain of the ‘Fatherless Generation”. But it also means that my heart breaks for those are growing up without a father.
This is a book that should never have had to be written, but as societal values change, the role of the family has changed also, and in the process we have lost a lot of what we used to call ‘family values’.
John Sowers book Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) paints a heart-wrenching picture of one of the problems of today’s society: the pain of the children of ‘invisible dads’. Men who refuse to accept their responsibility and leave as soon as they find out that the girl friend is pregnant. Men who leave when things get tough at home. Men in mid-life crises who leave home for the fancy car and much younger trophy wife. In other words, males who are men by virtue of age and testosterone, but still just little boys when it comes to accepting adult responsibilities. And that doesn’t take into account the children who are left as orphans when dad goes off to war, has a fatal accident, or is struck with a senseless terminal disease.
Fatherless Generation tells of the pain of girls and boys, (25 million if Sowers’ facts are correct) who are looking for their Dad. Boys and girls who think the divorce is their fault; who wonder what they did that was so bad that Daddy doesn't love them anymore. Girls and boys who are disappointed time after time when Dad doesn't show as promised for the birthday, holiday, or other ‘important event’ celebration. All dressed up with no place to go when Daddy doesn't show up for the visit, dinner, ball game, piano or dance recital, school play or graduation. Kids’ whose hearts are eventually hardened, they no longer care, but often carry around the guilty feeling of not caring.
And what happens to these kids with hardened hearts. Some survive; some go into therapy, some turn to other places to find the love they don’t get from Dad: gangs, drugs, prostitution. And some find positive role models through their church or school, with a Big Brother or a Big Sister, or a mentor associated with Sowers’ organization “The Mentoring Project”.
Fatherless Generation is more than just a stark picture of boys and girls growing up without someone to teach them how to be men and women. It’s a wake-up call for our communities. It’s a call to action for those who are tired of reading about another senseless murder or robbery or drug deal gone sour.
The book describes a problem but also offers a solution. Sowers describes way that men and women can get involved and make a difference in the lives of young people growing up as part of the Fatherless Generation. I was reminded of the prophet Jeremiah who spoke to the God's people: Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (Jer 29:7, NIV). Mentoring young people, being the adult role model, is a way to put those prayers into action.
Sowers writes from his perspective of being part of the fatherlessness epidemic. Friends, acquaintances and anonymous responders to his blog as quoted throughout the book. And whether they’re well known or anonymous, they are real people who know what it’s like to grow up without a dad.
Have the box of tissues handy.