Sometimes my imagination is all too vivid. The other day I saw a tall lanky guy crossing the street with his just-learning-to-walk young son. My brain flashed back to a time decades earlier when I was holding a little hand of my own. They grow so quickly.
I had the same thought as my grandson hopped out of the car and strolled to the schoolhouse door. Hes getting so big, I thought. I flash-backed again to when I first held him at the Medical Center 13 years ago.
Being a father is one of the toughest jobs on earth. It is also one of the most rewarding. Its the tough part that gets most of the attention. Its all too common to read headlines about single-parent families -- mostly headed by women.
So where are the fathers? Do they just disappear? Seems so. I would like to believe most arent mindless sperm donors (although some are) hopping from bed to bed impregnating any woman they can.
I would like to think that most are just scared and simply not mature enough to accept the awesome responsibility of being a dad -- one who supports his children and the women who have them.
They dont realize, yet, that walking away from their children is the supreme act of selfishness. They dont understand that in the blink of an eye, that same little bundle of joy they helped bring into the world, will be a grown man or woman looking at him -- not as a father -- but as a wretch.
Thats why watching the lanky guy cross the street with his young son gives me a glimmer of hope. Maybe its not so bad. But a report out last week from the Urban Institute and Fathers Incorporated, The Moynihan Report Revisited, sends me back into the funk of reality.
You may not remember Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but in 1965, before being elected senator from New York, he was assistant secretary of labor. While there, he released a study, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. He caught hell.
Are things any brighter 48 years later. The quick answer is no.
Here are some of the findings according to a news release from the authors of the study.
The statistics that so alarmed Moynihan have only grown worse, not only for blacks, but for whites and Hispanics as well....
In 1960, 20 percent of black children lived with their mothers but not their fathers; by 2010, 53 percent of all black children lived in such families. The share of white children living with their mothers but not their fathers climbed to 20 percent in 2010, up from 6 percent in 1960.
There has been a marked retreat from marriage. In 1960, just over one-half of all black women were married and living with their husbands, compared with over two-thirds of white and Hispanic women. By 2010, only one-quarter of black women, two-fifths of Hispanic women, and one-half of white women lived with their spouses.
The full report can be found at http://www.urban.org/publications/412839.html
What does all that mean? It means this Fathers Day, real dads have a lot of work to do. Not only for their children but for the neighbors child down the street. Fathers have to realize they are being observed all the time. Children are unconsciously picking up clues about how a man is supposed to act -- for good or ill.
Dads, if we go about acting like idiots, the children modeling us will act like idiots, too. If we love our children and our wives, they will pick up on that, too.
Thats what makes this new report so damning. While I can speak for the rest of the world, I can see whats going on in Middle Georgia. We have too many idiots. The lanky guy crossing the street with his young son, unfortunately, is the exception, not the rule.
I pray that hell still be around to tell his grown son about crossing the street -- hand-in-hand -- father and son.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet@crichard1020.